The untold truth of A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers after the legendary Rakim of musical duo Eric B. & Rakim (A$AP Rocky’s older sister’s name is too cute — Erika B.) first joined the A$AP crew — short for Always Strive and Prosper — in 2007. This collective of outcasts was known for their original music and fashion-forward looks that were opposite the traditional New York hip-hop scene. Born and raised in Harlem, the French-braid wearing, gold-teeth bearing, effortlessly cool A$AP Rocky fit right in with the rest of his A$AP brothers and quickly became the face of the group after his debut mixtape, LIVE.LOVE.A$AP, received fantastic critical reviews and skyrocketed his celebrity. 

Not content with only the music industry, A$AP Rocky has succeeded in numerous other endeavors. This multi-hyphenate who once told Dummy that he strives to be a “lifestyle icon” has absolutely lived up to the name by having his hands in the fashion, music, and art industries all at the same time.

As of this writing, however, A$AP Rocky is generating all the wrong kinds of headlines for an alleged assault that landed him in a Swedish detention center. The situation even blew up to the point where President Donald Trump personally got involved (but more on that in a moment). 

Let’s take a look at the man behind the bling and the braids as we explore the untold truth of A$AP Rocky.

He's an actor, but with a purpose

A$AP Rocky’s acting career happened purely “by chance.” As he recalled to Independent, he was helping his then-girlfriend, model Chanel Iman (above), prepare for her role the 2015 indie-film Dope. He became so interested in the project that he ended up auditioning, and earning his first role on the big screen. He loved the experience, according to W, but he desired something more challenging for future roles. “Maybe like a journalist or a brain surgeon,” he told the outlet, adding, “Test my intelligence.

Next came HBO’s Animals — a star-studded, animated series — where A$AP Rocky rapped alongside A$AP Ferg as a cartoon cat for one episode, giving him the amazing screen credit “Bodega Cat 2.” Combining his popularity in music and fashion, he also had cameos in feature films, like 2016’s Zoolander 2 and The Lonely Island’s cult classic Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

But in 2018, A$AP Rocky finally landed that juicy role he craved in the 2018 drama All Rise, which is about an inspiring young filmmaker in Harlem, who gets caught up in a violent robbery. Though he didn’t play the lead, the film’s theme resonated with the “Peso” rapper. “It challenged me to tap into, like, old ways — old personality traits that I had developed in the past, growing up as  teenager that … doesn’t necessarily represent me,” he told Collider, adding, “Not every person that makes a bad decision should be labeled as a monster.”  

A$AP Rocky: 'Lord of this fashion s**t'

Virgil Abloh (above), the fashion artistic director for Off-White and Louis Vuitton menswear who is one of the most popular figures in the fashion-world, actually met up with the A$AP Mob early in the designer’s career. And he may have the crew to thank for his label’s name. Speaking with interviewer Kerwin Frost, A$AP Rocky claimed group member and buddy A$AP Twelvyy actually came up with brand name Off-White, after the original name of Pyrex led to a copyright lawsuit. Abloh even designed the tour merchandise for A$AP Rocky’s first tour ever, in part because the rapper has been fashionable since before his career even got started.

Growing up in Harlem, A$AP Rocky was already tailoring jeans and going to Saks to shop for high-end fashion brands before this was popular in the hip-hop community. He also doesn’t just let the clothes do the talking, name-dropping fashion designers in songs, like in his 2011 breakout hit “Peso,” claiming “Raf Simons, Rick Owens, usually what I’m dressed in” or bragging in “Multiply:” “I’m the motherf**ing lord of this fashion s**t.”  

For his 2019 Injured Generation Tour, the dandified A$AP Rocky made his way around the world in custom gear from his “favorite brand,” Prada. “Everybody only knows about my love for Dior, my love for Loewe, my love for JW Anderson, … for Gucci, for Louis,” he told GQ, adding, “They don’t know — I’m really a Prada boy.”

A$AP Rocky's most iconic fashion look was actually an accident

When someone calls themselves “pretty” that person is either an expert at self-deprecation or in the case of A$AP Rocky, very self-aware of their beauty. That, plus being obsessed with all things fashion has led to A$AP Rocky modeling in various campaigns throughout the years for brands like Dior, DKNY, and Ferragamo. He’s also a super fan of Belgian designer Raf Simons, having posed in campaigns for the artistic designer’s eponymous label, and for Calvin Klein during Simons’ years as creative director. To become a foppish role-model however, A$AP Rocky had to develop a style all his own.

At the 2018 LACMA Art and Film Gala in Los Angeles, A$AP Rocky rolled in with his now famous LEWK, a silk babushka — which means “old woman” — wrapped around his head. He later dubiously claimed to GQ that the scarf was actually used to cover up a “big gash” from a razor scooter accident, before almost immediately changing his story, saying he was “inspired” by the 1994 film The Little Rascals in which character Alfalfa ties a towel around his face when pretending to have a toothache. He continued to rock a fashion babushka for most of the press tour for his third studio album Testing.

Wait, who has A$AP Rocky dated?

Back when he was just 15 years old, Rakim Mayers had a “little girlfriend” who grew up to be famous in her own right — the singer/dancer Teyana Taylor, with whom he shared a connection to then-upcoming Harlem rapper Azealia Banks, according to Dummy. Fast forward to 2011, when A$AP Rocky and Iggy Azalea began dating well before both had their breakout moments in the music industry. The two were so enamored that Azalea even got the words “LIVE,” “LOVE,” and “A.$.V.P” tattooed on her fingers, in tribute to her man’s celebrated mixtape. Their relationship ended (and Azalea eventually had the ink removed), but luckily both their careers were just getting started.

Next up for A$AP Rocky was dating model and actress Chanel Iman. The two made a huge splash together at the ritzy Met Gala in 2014, followed by an outrageously sexy Vogue photoshoot that they posed for after they split up, according to MTV. A few years later, various outlets (via ELLE) linked A$AP Rocky and Kendall Jenner after the pair made a rather amorous appearance at — where else? — the 2017 Met Gala. However, this fashionable couple didn’t last long, or actually, was never “really official,” if Us Weekly‘s anonymous sources are to be believed. 

At any rate, the Jenner break-up, or whatever it was, probably didn’t affect A$AP Rocky much, as the guy devotes a lot of his time to being single as a dollar bill.

He founded his own company (which does … what?)

AWGE, a creative agency founded by A$AP Rocky has two very specific rules. #1: Never reveal what AWGE means. #2: When in doubt always refer to rule #1. The brand launched in 2015 with a series of strange posts on A$AP Rocky’s Instagram that ended up losing him 100,000 followers, according to HIGHSNOBIETY. Although AWGE is mysterious on purpose, A$AP Rocky revealed to the Rap Radar podcast (via Complex) that it was inspired by the Vice Media model. “It’s a collective of young creatives from people who make music to people who draw, designers, all that,” Rocky elaborated to Complex in 2018, adding, “It’s just, for a lack of better words, a ghetto Google.” 

In keeping with A$AP Rocky’s desire to be “a creator of original ideas” (via Forbes), AWGE has done just about everything from clothing collaborations with GUESS and Under Armour to opening pop-up bodegas in London. Of course AWGE plays a big role in the music industry as well, like signing up-and-coming talent like Playboi Carti, A$AP Rocky’s fashion show buddy who also seemed to be getting very friendly with A$AP Rocky’s ex-girlfriend Iggy Azalea. AWGE has also produced music videos for the A$AP Mob, Playboi Carti, and Tyler, the Creator. If anyone can figure out what the group does next, that person will probably be inducted into the AWGE collective.

A$AP Rocky is not shy about his sex life

In the opening line of A$AP Rocky’s breakout single, 2011’s “Peso,” he proudly proclaims “I be that pretty motherf**er.” Look, this dude is a rich, famous model, who is naturally charming in interviews, so is anyone shocked by his bravado? Further tracks like “PMW (All I Really Need)” — you can search for the nsfw meaning — prove that A$AP Rocky is sexy and he knows it. And it’s not just in his lyrics. A common theme in A$AP Rocky’s interviews is discussing his sexual prowess, like when he told NME, “I think threesomes are normal now. … I might sleep with three girls at once but not every day.” He even bragged to Esquire about the gigantic bed he designed specifically to host orgies, many of which he has “photographed and documented.”

To his credit, and despite his sexual adventures, A$AP Rocky openly addressing issues like sexism and homophobia in the hip-hop community. Asked about his relationship with women, he told NME, “I don’t go around saying women are just h*s. Do I think they’re less of a person compared to a man and the human race? No.” Speaking with Interview, A$AP Rocky said his interest in fashion paved the way for his embrace of the LGBT community, and that “you can miss out on a lot by being so small-minded and stereotypical about people.”

He really misses his best friend

A$AP Yams, real name Steven Rodriguez, who got his start running a hip-hop blog before founding A$AP Mob, sadly passed away in 2015 at age 26 due to an accidental drug overdose. According to The New York Times, A$AP Rocky owes his career to the late producer for the promotion of his first single “Purple Swag” on A$AP Yams’ “popular Tumblr blog.” Naturally devastated over the death of his friend and collaborator, A$AP Rocky had to cut a performance short at the 2015 Sundance festival, telling Billboard that he only agreed to go onstage in the first place “to stop [himself] from crying.”

Since then, A$AP Rocky constantly talks about and remembers his bestie who died through tragic circumstances. In 2015 A$AP Rocky released his sophomore album At.Long.Last.A$AP to great critical reception, with Yams listed alongside Danger Mouse as an executive producer. Not content in letting anyone forget about his mentor, A$AP Rocky started Yams Day in 2016, an epic concert held every year in NYC to pay tribute to his late friend. According to GQ, The 2019 version had Soulja Boy as a throwback guest and a wrestling ring in the venue to pay homage to Yams’ love of the WWE. It’s amazing how A$AP Rocky keeps A$AP Yams’ legacy in everyone’s minds.

There is a very clear reason for A$AP Rocky's 'very trippy' art

Most people like to keep their illicit drug use away from the legal eye and others, but this has rarely been the case in the hip-hop community — and for A$AP Rocky. Since his first single “Purple Swag” which is about all things purple, “purple drink, purple weed,” A$AP Rocky has openly referenced his drug use during interviews. “Harmony, love, drugs and peace is all we need,” he raps on “Dreams (Interlude),” but he’s not into the “hard” stuff. Speaking with Independent, he said he prefers “magic mushrooms” and “marijuana,” which he believes “brings people together” like the hippies of the 1960s. In one of A$AP Rocky’s finest quotes (via The Cut), he offers up his preparatory tools for the MET Gala, one of the most exclusive social affairs in the world: “Marijuana and good taste.”

He also uses psychedelic drugs for songwriting, like the track “Praise the Lord,” which he told Gentleman’s Journal was written as part of an experiment in which a “scientist wanted to see the conditions of our brains when we were writing these song on LSD.” More generally, A$AP Rocky told Billboard, “[LSD] helps me cope with life. I’ve been doing this stuff since I got into the industry. People are scared to talk about it.” The results sound like a perfect explanation of his various creative ventures: “It’s trippy. My art, my visuals. Very trippy.”

A trip to Sweden turned into a nightmare

According to The New York Times, A$AP Rocky was arrested on an assault charge in Stockholm, Sweden during a stop on his 2019 Injured Generation Tour. The “L$D” rapper has posted two edited videos of the incident to his personal Instagram, claiming that two men were following and harassing the rapper and his crew. Other videos clearly show the rapper and others in a physical confrontation. After being determined to be “a flight risk,” A$AP Rocky was ordered to remain in detention center during an investigation. Since then, both the United States Department of State and President Donald Trump have issued statements expressing concern for A$AP Rocky during his detainment. As of this writing, he remains incarcerated. 

Soon after A$AP Rocky’s arrest, fans started a petition on with a goal of garnering 1 million signatures asking for his release from Swedish officials, starting the #JusticeForRocky movement, and opening up a larger conversation about human rights.

This is probably a waking nightmare for A$AP Rocky, who told Dummy in 2013 that he has no desire to garner street cred by spending time behind bars. When he was a child, his dad was constantly in and out of jail before passing away. A$AP Rocky even claimed he landed in “prison for like a week,” before he began making music, adding that he hated the experience and wanted to stay away forever.

A$AP Rocky vs. Drake: Baby-daddy drama

In 2018, veteran rapper Pusha-T started one of the most intense rap feuds ever with his track, “Infrared,” when he rekindled the ghostwriting rumors about Drake. The track was in response to Drake’s “Two Birds, One Stone” that questioned Pusha-T’s drug-dealing history. Four days after the release of his third studio album, Daytona, Pusha-T released the searing single, “The Story of Adidon.” In the track (per Pitchfork) Pusha-T alleges that Drake has a child he’s been hiding from the world. Of course, the internet went wild, launching intense speculation about the scenario.

Caught up in the drama was A$AP Rocky, who possibly dated adult-film star Sophie Brussaux, according to Hollywood Life. Brussaux was allegedly dating a few men around the same time as A$AP Rocky including Drake, James Harden, and Iman Shupert when she became pregnant. For a brief time, people wondered if A$AP Rocky was the baby’s father but after Pusha-T released “The Story of Adidon” Drake confirmed the news about his son, Adonis, and his mother Sophie Brussaux.

Befriending A$AP Rocky turned a homeless guy into a star

Since 2014, A$AP Rocky has been off and on living in London, his “home away from home” (per Billboard), where he worked on a majority of his second album, At.Long.Last.A$AP. While there, he met British rapper and guitarist Joe Fox, who made his debut on the album’s opening track, “Holy Ghost,” and four subsequent songs. Recounting the birth of their unlikely friendship, A$AP Rocky told NME that a then-homeless Fox tried to sell him a demo, not recognizing who the rapper was. On the spot, A$AP Rocky asked Fox to perform, and after being blown away, he invited the struggling artist to live in his hotel room. Not long after, Fox got his big break when At.Long.Last.A$AP became a #1 album on the Billboard 200 Chart.

The story becomes even more heartwarming when in the context of A$AP Rocky’s difficult childhood. According to Interview, the rapper spent years living in various shelters alongside his mom and older sister. The conditions were so tough that he recalled, “Me and my sister just looked at each other and started crying.” Working the way up to being a famous artist certainly doesn’t come easy and it’s heartening to see the rapper pay it forward in giving chances to others. As A$AP Rocky told NME about Fox, it didn’t matter that he was homeless: “What mattered was that he had a voice and I knew that the world needed to hear it.”

A$AP Rocky or O-Dog? You decide.

For as long as he’s been in the public eye, A$AP Rocky has sported a distinct hair-style of braids framing his face. As a child, Rakim Mayers looked up admirably to his older brother who wore his hair in a French-braid style, so the future rapper decided to style his hair the same way. Mayers was only 13 years old when his brother Ricky tragically passed away, but as of this writing, A$AP Rocky continues to sport his iconic hairstyle. Looking back, he’s fond of “[making] it acceptable to wear braids” (per Pitchfork) on the streets of Harlem. He also told Rolling Stone he calls them “O-Dog from Menace II Society braids,” referencing the popular 1993 film. 

While he doesn’t often talk about his hair, and sticks mostly to music and fashion, A$AP Rocky did elaborate on his grooming routine to Coveteur. His tips? Using Witch Hazel to cleanse and exfoliate his pretty face, and only washing his hair once a week, claiming that “for black people, dirt actually makes our hair grow.” Whatever he does it’s working since the man looks the same at age 30 as he did bursting into the music scene at 22 years old.

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