RCA / US
It’s no overstatement that in the less than 10 years since releasing his first mixtape, the Harlem rapper born Rakim Mayers has changed the game completely, on entirely his own terms. To understand just how much, cast your mind back to the turn of the decade when hip hop fashion meant new-era caps and sportswear, and rappers stuck to their rigid genre lane. With it’s crooned hook and shout outs to Jeremy Scott and Rick Owens, Pe$o showed the world a different type of rapper - one not afraid to experiment, globally minded and, it goes without saying, stylish AF.
With the double threat of Rocky’s outsized charisma and an ear for the unusual - sourcing beats from producers on the fringe like Clams Casino - Live.Life.A$AP opened the floodgates for a new kind of rap. True to the streets but with an eye on global trends, and alive to the creative and commercial possibilities of the Internet, A$AP Rocky is perhaps - with a nod to Odd Future and Tyler the creator - the first millennial hip hop star.
Today, A$AP is still on a mission to take things to the next level. How many other artists could follow up the acclaimed Testing with an entirely sung, Tame Impala sampling psychedelic pop gem like Sundress? Or use his largesse to promote the work of UK grime artists like Skepta to a US audience? Experimental to the last, this sense of pushing boundaries also extends to his live shows, whether that’s making A$AP Yams dollar bills rain on the crowd, or incorporating cutting edge A/V. Given his track record for taking creative risks, we can almost guarantee that whatever he has planned for Sónar 2019, will change the game once again.