Seven Things You Need to Know About A$AP Rocky and His Partnership With MTV Labs and Viacom Velocity
1. A$AP Rocky was rapping by the time he was 8 years old. Now, he’s one of Viacom Velocity’s “Creative Incubators.”
Viacom Velocity and MTV Labs have named A$AP Rocky as creative director. This is just the latest big move for someone who has done a lot in 28 years, a stretch that some might consider the essence of the American Dream. Homeless as a teenager, moving from shelter to shelter, he sold drugs to survive. Rapping was just a hobby.
By 23, the Harlem native refocused his energies and began to take rapping seriously. In August 2011 his first single, Peso, leaked online. Peso’s retro-inspired video broke the proverbial internet, and led to a $3 million contract with Polo Grounds Music/ RCA Records.
In an interview with MTV News, Twenty One Pilots’ front man Tyler Joseph said, “[Rocky is] someone who’s ahead of the game and knows where the next fad is going.” People like Rocky, said Joseph, can be their authentic selves because they don’t have to copy anyone else—they’re the trendsetters.
Today, Rocky is a bonafide renaissance man. He’s got his own Karmaloop clothing line. He made the cover of Forbes for its esteemed “30 under 30” edition, alongside Silicon Valley wunderkind Aaron Levie and two-time Olympian gold medalist Shaun White.
“[I always wanted] to be able to curate and manage my own business,” said Rocky in an interview with Forbes.
2. What’s up with the dollar sign?
Rocky’s moniker is a homage to his roots as a member of the A$AP Mob, the Harlem-based hip-hop group founded in 2006 by rappers A$AP Yams, A$AP Bari, and A$AP Illz. Eventually a slew of other A$APs joined the ranks, including Rocky.
They share a collective interest in style, fashion, and art, widely influenced by their neighborhood. In essence, the A$AP Mob is the millennial generation’s answer to the Harlem renaissance.
The name stands for “Always Strive And Prosper.” Net worth aside, the crew has certainly earned their title. Music critics are comparing A$AP Mob to iconic hip-hop families such as Biggie Smalls’ Junior M.A.F.I.A and Wu-Tang Clan.
“The crew, the movement, is starting to build in a very organic way,” said RCA Music Group president Tom Corson in an interview with Billboard. “There’s no hype there. We’re keeping it real and we’re expecting it to stay that way. Because that’s who Rocky is and that’s his brand.”
3. He hosted this year’s MTV Woodies back in March. Here’s his take on the event:
“I think it’s cool when people get together and guys don’t really know each other but support each other’s music off the basis of admiration.” – A$AP Rocky
4. The music and fashion mogul decided to partner with MTV and Viacom Velocity because he truly loves the brand.
“MTV is a name we grew up with – everyone knows them as innovators and champions of building artists’ careers. I’m honored to have this opportunity and can’t wait to show people what we have been working on.” –A$AP Rocky
Rocky promises to push the envelope of creativity and ingenuity, and bring his unique street style to the fast-paced world of network television.
5. What has he been working on?
As a kick-off event for Rocky’s partnership with Viacom Velocity and MTV Labs, Rocky performed a never-before-heard song live at MTV’s Times Square Studio called Crazy Brazy, one of the tracks from A$AP Mob’s forthcoming mix-tape Cozy Tapes Vol. 1.
Watch his interview with MTV News right before the performance:
6. Out of all the A$Aps, why Rocky?
Rocky is arguably one of the most influential rappers of our generation, yet what made him stand out as a game-changer?
According to Niels Schuurmans, executive vice president and chief creative officer at Viacom Velocity, “A$AP Rocky is a unique millennial artist whose influence as an innovator and disruptor spans music, film, art, and fashion. What was so compelling to us is his authentic love for fans and the MTV brand, along with his desire to collaborate with us and our marketing partners to develop ideas that drive real cultural impact.”
7. What can we expect from this collaboration?
MTV Labs and Viacom Velocity are leaving much to the imagination, but based off of this promo video, we can expect a fusion of hip-hop, old-school MTV culture, and low-key innovation. We can’t predict exactly how Rocky will impact Viacom, but he is sure to contribute to the bold, enigmatic energies of our brands.
As Rocky puts it, “Even when we chillin,’ we still keep the creative juices flowing.”
See for yourself here: