Celebrity Buzz: Influential hip-hop mogul ASAP Yams dead at 26

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A$AP Mob founder A$AP Yams dies at 26.

Yams ran a popular hip hop blog before founding A$AP Mob, a collective that now includes rappers like A$AP Ferg and A$AP Rocky. “Yams is the hip-hop encyclopedia,” Rocky told New York Times for a 2013 profile on Yams. “He’s no joke. That’s one person I can’t front on when it comes to music.” A$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. In the shrouded world of the New York rap collective A$AP Mob’s inner circle, he was cited as a gamechanger and innovator – past reports have pegged him as a visionary and a young man who exerted power in a “nebulous fashion”. RCA Records, which represents some of the A$AP Mob artists, also offered their sympathies in a statement. “All of us at RCA Records are shocked and saddened to hear of the death of A$AP Yams.

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. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.” According to Rolling Stone magazine, Rodriguez is credited with helping push the careers of breakout Grammy-nominated hip-hop stars A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg. “You will be missed Bro.

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. 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. At 17, he had the word “A$AP” tattooed on his arm and joined forces with friends A$AP Bari (Jabari Shelton) and A$AP Illz (Illijah Ulanga) to cobble together the bare bones of the rap crew. R.i.P YAMZ there can never be another one after you.” According to the Times, Rodriguez “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 to his every word and recommendation.”

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.

It also proved a strategic home for Mayers’ single Purple Swag in early 2011 – the song’s online popularity on Tumblr propelled it into the laps of execs at RCA and led to the Mayers’ place as the Mob’s first major label signing. He often coined terms that briefly found a life online, giving rise to the “cozy boyz” fashion micro-trend of touting luxuriously comfortable clothes after giving it one throwaway mention. From his executive producer credits on Mayers’ Long Live A$AP debut album and the Trap Lord mixtape by A$AP Ferg (Darold Ferguson, Jr) to his foray into fashion design for the Blackout Boyz DJ collective, Rodriguez left his mark on hip-hop in a matter of years. 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.

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