The Renaissance Man: A$AP Rocky reflects on life at 30

Our September cover star shares his thoughts on the creative process, meeting aliens, and making history

Rocky walks through the door, and the first thing he says kills any tension in the flash of cherubic smile. “I haven’t slept man, but I gotta tell you — I’m really happy to be here”.

By the end of the day, I believe him on both counts. With A$AP Rocky, even the small talk is worth recording

The Renaissance Man: A$AP Rocky reflects on life at 30

On Sleep...

From the first, Rocky floats around on a cloud of charisma and natural energy (and other things, perhaps, but we might come to that later) and squeezes every pixel on the camera sensor for everything it’s worth.

When I ask him how he’s feeling six hours later, as the shoot winds down, he says: “It’s been a long night, long day, long few years, man. But that’s the way I like it.”

On Success...

Many people claim that they love what they do. But the difference with Rocky is that he only does what he loves.  “All my business endeavours, and all my musical endeavours, all my artistic endeavours — it all comes natural.” he tells me later on.

“I’m a renaissance man. I just do my thing. It’s some gnarly radical shit, but we get this shit going.”

On turning thirty...

In many ways, Rocky didn’t think he’d even make it this far. “My whole time being 27, everyone was like, ‘you’re gonna be part of the 27 club,” he said in an interview with Forbes in 2016. “I thought I was gonna die.

That’s some real conceited shit to say, but I really thought I was special enough to end. I was kind of upset when I turned 28, like, ‘I’m supposed to be up there in heaven right now.’”

"I really thought I was special enough to end. I was kind of upset when I turned 28..."

“Sometimes I contemplate whether I should act differently when I get there” he tells me, in a mirror-bulbed dressing room deep below the Box stage. “But then I think that when you live a crazy lifestyle you get accustomed to it, and it’s just the norm,” he says.

“Obviously I wasn’t born privileged or with success in easy reach. So I had to develop into the man that I’ve become and the man that I’m becoming.”

The Renaissance Man: A$AP Rocky reflects on life at 30

On social media...

“Social media is different strokes for different folks.” he says. “It’s been like this for quite some time now. Everything repeats and comes full circle, it’s just different ways of getting it out there. What’s important is what you want to say,” he tells me.

“And regardless of whether you think it comes out whack or lit, I don’t mind — I just want people to know that that is truly how I feel at that moment.”

On AWGE...

“What I love about AWGE is that there are different genres of talent within it,” Rocky says. “I mean, sometimes I sit back, and maybe you can blame it on the weed and shit, but I think this generation will be the one that could discover extraterrestrial life.”

"If aliens want a definitive statement of human life, I’d just say take a look at me"

I ask him what he’d say if he did encounter aliens. “I would ask so many questions.” he says. “But if aliens want a definitive statement of human life, I’d just say take a look at me — I’m quite the motherfucker, I must say.”

The Renaissance Man: A$AP Rocky reflects on life at 30

On the creative process...

This is A$AP Rocky exactly as you’d hope to find him. Rapturous, free wheeling, honest; grinning slyly so you never know quite when he’s playing with you or not. It’s the same pose he strikes on TESTING, the cosmic, hallucinogenic, deeply unconventional album, released earlier this summer.

In that creative process, Rocky tells me he microdosed on LSD under the laboratory conditions of a neuroscientist, specifically to produce the song Praise the Lord with Skepta.

“This scientist wanted to see the conditions of our brains when we were writing these song on LSD,” he tells me. “It was a wild new way to do things” — testing in every sense of the word.

The Renaissance Man: A$AP Rocky reflects on life at 30

On Entrepreneurship...

“People need to be dynamic nowadays, and weird and different is in,” he says. “Kids understand that. That’s the new world, the new economy. Don’t be derivative.”

Before we go, I ask him if he has any advice for those young entrepreneurs. “I don’t know what to tell anybody out there because it’ll sound like some corny motivational shit. But all I can do is be me the most, and hope they do the same. I got a goofy side, I got a cool side, I got a handsome side, I got a nerdy side, I got a ghetto side, I got an elegant side, I got an eloquent side, I speak in ebonics…” he pauses.

"I got a goofy side, I got a cool side, I got a handsome side, I got a nerdy side, I got a ghetto side, I got an elegant side, I got an eloquent side"

“There’s so many factors that make me as a whole, but I’m not afraid to express all the parts that make me who I am. So, in other words, be your fucking self, and the rest is pretty easy.”  

The Renaissance Man: A$AP Rocky reflects on life at 30

This article was taken from the September/October issue of Gentleman’s Journal. Subscribe to the magazine here…

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