ASAP Yams, of ASAP Worldwide, Bridged Hip-Hop Regions and Generations

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A$AP Mob Founder A$AP Yams Dead at 26.

Hip-hop’s past is littered with secret histories, scenes and stories and sounds that never got their full hearing, remembered only by a few. Yams ran a popular hip hop blog before founding A$AP Mob, a collective that now includes rappers like A$AP Ferg and A$AP Rocky. “Yams is the hip-hop encyclopedia,” Rocky told New York Times for a 2013 profile on Yams. “He’s no joke.New of his apparent death first emerged when the official Twitter account for A$AP Mob tweeted ‘RIP @ASAPYams’ followed by posting an Instagram picture of him. That’s one person I can’t front on when it comes to music.” A$AP Mob members have been posting tributes to Yams online since news of his death broke, including one from Ferg that addresses Yams directly: “You were the brilliant mind, you put us on Game, you changed our lives,” he said in a Tumblr post. “You changed my life, you changed the world.” Other big names in hip hop like Russell Simmons and Drake have also posted condolences, and fans are remembering Yams by retweeting some of his funnier tweets under the #YamsTweets hashtag.

The news broke via Twitter, with a number of accounts associated with the hip-hop collective tweeting the message RIP, including the main A$AP Mob account, before it was confirmed by his record label, Sony/RCA. “All of us at RCA Records are shocked and saddened to hear of the death of A$AP Yams,” the record company said. “As one of the creative forces behind A$AP Worldwide, Yams’ vision, humor and dedication to the members of A$AP Mob will always be remembered. Those stories are now rescued, amplified and recontextualized by a new wave of agents who are fluent in the past, and who use it to build a more creative future. While cause of death and other details remain unknown, nearly every member of the A$AP Mob, the Harlem hip-hop collective that Yams established and helped bring to prominence, have taken to social media to mourn their founder. “You will be missed Bro. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.” Yams, real name Steven Rodriguez, was 26, was behind-the-scenes figure in A$AP Mob, helping plot to A$AP Rocky’s rise to stardom. Born Steven Rodriguez, he was an owner of ASAP Worldwide records, and the creative force behind the rise of the Harlem rapper ASAP Rocky, one of hip-hop’s most promising young stars.

He will be truly missed.” “A.S.A.P YAMS should be remembered as a leader, an innovator and most importantly as an important part of NYC youth culture,” Azealia Banks tweeted. Hip-hop has long been obsessed with fealty to a specific place and time, and Yams’s vision of the genre as an open house, not a fortress, qualifies as a radical one.”

His blog RNT — the full title can’t be printed — was an early warning system for emerging hip-hop that was both stylish and rugged, from all corners of the country. He helped set the blueprint for contemporary polyglot hip-hop taste, taking cues from the traditions of New York, Los Angeles, the Midwest and the South. I spent time with Yams in 2012, just before the release of Rocky’s debut, “Long.Live.ASAP” (Polo Grounds/RCA), as part of a series on behind-the-scenes forces in the music industry.

Unlike other people I spoke with, Yams played a role that was misty; he was, he said with characteristic cheek, a “spirit guide.” At that time, New York hip-hop was, for all intents and purposes, stagnant, in thrall to its younger self and looking backward, not forward. Yams rightly understood that was quicksand to be avoided. “People can say anything they want about Rocky, talking about, ‘Oh, he sounds like he’s from here, he sounds like he’s from there,’ ” Yams told me. “I don’t care what nobody says. And he lived hard — Blackout Boyz was the name of one of his side crews, and their logo was a collection of Xanax tablets. (Last summer he spent time in rehab.) His long con of making hip-hop in the image of his taste set worked. “Long.Live.ASAP” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart and went on to be a modest success — one single was certified double platinum, another one gold. He helped shape the taste of a generation, be it the rappers and producers he was working with through ASAP Worldwide or his own fledgling Yamborghini Records imprint, or the thousands of readers who hung on his every word and recommendation.

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