A$AP Rocky made things both easier and harder for those following in his wake when he hit Number One on the Billboard 200 last month. Name one sidekick rapper who has gone on to surpass the leader of his crew – Snoop Dogg, maybe? Then again, maybe crossover pop success isn't the goal for the other members of Harlem's A$AP Mob. I ran into A$AP Ferg two weeks ago, sitting in an office chair, hovering over a keyboard while wearing camo and gold teeth. Following Hot 97's lead, MTV Jams had asked him for a cleaned-up version of his "Work" video, so he and director Shomi Patwary were in the process of making it more, uh, family-friendly. The shots that don't take place within a mountain of cocaine have any number of A$AP Mob members pretending to shoot off guns. Editing took a while. Things won't be easier for Ferg's next single, off his upcoming Trap Lord mixtape: It's called "I Fukked Yo Bitch."
A$AP Ferg stepped out in front of the crowd at SOB's last night for his debut solo concert in New York, draped in an open silver blazer with a silver vest and silver shirt underneath, each one size too tight. He sweated through all of it almost immediately. He's been on bigger stages in larger rooms, but in that moment, Ferg looked small. It could've been that no one shared the space with him, or maybe "100 Million Roses" is too quiet an entrance – but I imagine it was nerves, Ferg being a bit frazzled by the idea that people had bought tickets to see him and only him. Quickly, though, things clicked into place: The pigtailed Marty Baller and another A$AP member skulked out wearing bandito masks and "I FUKKED YO BITCH" hoodies, throwing petals into the air and then dropping back down in choreographed unison. It demanded your attention, whatever it was. Selena's "Dreaming of You" played over the PA, and Ferg asked the crowd to pay tribute.
As the stage filled, Ferg revealed himself to be a commanding presence, gold teeth and heavy shoulders rarely lost in the madness. When mashing his way through the hard-hitting "Persian Wine" and "Work," he used his neck like a hammer, the veins visible as he cocked his head back and broke off syllables like bottle caps. He muscled his songs to the ground, growling as he put them into chokeholds. Various A$AP members flew outwards, missile-like, breaking everything in sight. Ferg seemed unfazed by the chaos around him – a Magneto directing the winds, his eyes steady. When joined by A$AP Nast, he emptied a bottle of Champagne, tossing it out as if delivering a newspaper, saying, "Y'all look like sitting ducks. Turn the fuck up." The front rows – branded in Givenchy, Pyrex and 40 Oz., dressed up for a midnight showing of the A$AP Rocky Horror Picture Show – obliged. And yet, there were times when Ferg seemed removed, even eager to play the background.
Rocky himself showed up onstage soon enough. Right before "Work" started up, he told Ferg, "Yo, we should tuck our chains in for this one." Ferg nodded, and then Rocky nodded bigger, laughing. As they moved their gold inside their shirts, the two smiled like friends do – a moment rarely seen from offstage. Before the show last night, Ferg told me, "We were supposed to be A$AP RAD: Rocky and D. Ferg. 'Get High' was supposed to be the first song off our mixtape." Last night, one could see how things had changed in their dynamic. But more importantly, one could see how they hadn't.