“I’m sweating my ass off out here in Miami, no doubt,” A$AP Ferg chats with me on a warm Miami day in October. He lets me know he’s waiting in the airport and I immediately picture him sitting cross-legged in a United Airlines VIP room somewhere, Henny in hand, phone propped up on the armrest on speaker. He’s probably wearing socks with those BAPE x Birkenstock collaboration sandals; travelling Trap Lords are all about the comfort life.
You’ve most likely had Ferg’s (born Darold Ferguson Jr.) chart topping single “Shabba” stuck in your head for weeks on end, and 2013 has been year of the Trap Lord. Born in Harlem, New York, he learned from a young age that creativity is his life-blood. Switching between fashion and music from a very early age, he’s no stranger to the world of art, in every sense of the word. “I was born to do art and fashion, it was in my blood as my Father did it before me. He didn’t just do fashion, it was logos and fragrances for Russell Simmons and Phat Farm; a real artist over all. I was inspired to do my own thing after that,” remembers Ferg, who lost his Father to kidney failure. “I could be like, ‘How am I ever going to fill my Pop’s shoes?’ But in my eyes, I’m becoming better than him, accomplishing things he didn’t get a chance to. He would want that,” the pain can be heard through the phone as he talks about his Father. “My pops was friends with a lot of the Bad Boy guys so I grew up with all that. Being in fashion and then making the transition to music wasn’t really gradual, I’ve loved both my whole life.”
Back in August, if you used the Internet at all during the dates 16th to the 19th, it was hard to miss the announcement that A$AP Ferg released his debut album Trap Lord to be streamed free off of his website. Trap Lord was originally going to be a mix-tape but Ferg wanted to put in as much work as he could, giving it enough push so that it would shake rap fans so hard they wouldn’t know what hit them. “I decided to make Trap Lord into an album versus a mix tape to get more muscle behind it. Usually when artists release a mix tape it’s like in and out, so fast. It’s like a fifteen second thing. I wanted to get the label and everything behind it to push it.”
The hard-hitting, in-your-face single “Work” has an infectious beat, one that knocks speakers and holds your attention, but Ferg gives us more of a softer side with “Hood Pope,” singing along to the flow instead of a constant barrage of rhymes. It’s a breath of fresh air, which is exactly what he was trying to achieve with this record. “I’m trying to give rap a style it’s never heard before and bring something new to music sonically. I wanted to do something innovative and I think that I’ve proven that by grabbing guys off Tumblr and Twitter, you know, random people,” speaks Ferg. “I usually set up an email where people could just send me their beats and I’d listen to all of them, like 100 beats in a day.” Working with young talent is something that Ferg couldn’t imagine not doing and there’s a romance in his voice when asked about it. “The best part is teaming up with these young rocket scientists that know what they’re doing. They’re rebels against anything that’s in cycle; the wanna go against the grain and make history. That’s all I’m about, making history.”
Canadians were lucky to have seen the A$AP Mob in action when they visited Toronto and Vancouver in 2012 during the Long Live A$AP Tour, and they can relive the moment when Trap Lord hits stages across our beautiful country. “I love Canada period, it’s just the energy that people give you out there. I always go over-time with my sets out there, just because I love y’all. You don’t get to see me as much out there and you go crazy for me, I love it.“
Suddenly there’s a screaming infant somewhere off in the distance and I’m brought back down to Earth. Ferg has given us more to see when we look at the A$AP mob, more than just a group of young men trying to be heard, more than just kids from Harlem rapping about what other kids from Harlem have rapped about for years. I bid farewell to the Trap Lord himself who defines what exactly that means for me: “A trap lord is basically the lord of the trap, and my trap is rap.” It’s hard not to be romantic about hip hop.
Catch A$AP Ferg at Fortune Sound Club Nov. 11, 8 p.m.
By Camille Vega