A$AP Rocky is concerned. Moments before heading into New York City’s Roseland Ballroom, he spots a cluster of fans outside his tour bus. Rocky doesn’t want them to see his $6,000 leather Givenchy crewneck, or the Y-3 shorts he’ll be wearing for the sold-out show tonight. He asks his right-hand man, A$AP Lou, a stocky white dude with gold fronts and a Givenchy T-shirt, if there’s a robe he can put on for the 25-foot trek from the bus to the venue. He settles on a Public Enemy Supreme parka to preserve the element of surprise, an impulse that falls in line with his exploding career.
It’s been a little over a year since his “Peso” video went viral. He followed that with the acclaimed mixtape Live.Love.A$AP. Now, Rocky’s highly anticipated debut album, Long.Live.A$AP, is being kept carefully under wraps until its planned December release. Until then, he’s holding his fans down with scene-stealing features on records by Schoolboy Q, Swizz Beatz, and Rihanna—and a legendary performance as President Kennedy in Lana del Rey’s “National Anthem” video. More than any of that, Rocky’s gravitas, charisma, and hustle have brought him this far—to the cusp of rap superstardom.
Rocky has worked bigger stages than Roseland over the past year, but tonight is different. He’s playing for a hometown crowd. There will be plenty of fans, sure, but also people who knew him as Rakim Mayers, just another kid from Harlem on the come up. Before exiting his tour bus for a pre-show meet and greet, he learns that his outfit is the least of his worries.
“There’s a problem,” a trusted crew member explains to the 24-year-old with the seven-figure record contract. A process server is outside waiting to serve Rocky with papers. In the wake of a well-publicized, shut-the-venue-down brawl at an A$AP show last October, a plaintiff has taken legal action against the whole crew.
As he steps off the bus, young fans scream at him (“AAAAAA$AP!”) and Rocky acknowledges them with a flashy smile. Then, sure enough, a half-step away from the ballroom’s artist entry, a young man impersonating a fan slides up to A$AP and his entourage.
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