Rocky, widely known for his unparalleled fashion sense and live-free approach, battled with staying out of trouble as a Harlem teen. Today, he is a living example of a person who “made it”, despite the odds and obstacles he faced in his youth– Many of which the lively young ladies he visited in Harlem’s National Black Theatre, deal with on a daily basis.
At 25, the rapper often makes mistakes of his own; but on that snowy afternoon, he shared the lessons he learned before and after the international fame, inspiring the youth of his community to go for their dreams, no matter who or what would get in their way.
The enlightening conversation started with relationships, as Simone asked him about his close bond with his mother. The rapper was raised by both of his parents, until his father was arrested. “We had to start living in shelters, “ he recalled. The circumstances strengthened their bond, and now he refers to her as his “best friend” and “housewife.”
The conversation only got better from there, as a few of A$AP’s biggest fans hung on the rapper’s every word. Check out the major highlights from the insightful Q&A. –Gia Peppers
On how he made it through one of his lowest points:
“In 2011, I was so broke. I was in the streets but I wasn’t making any money. I would apply for all of these jobs in retail, and I really wanted to work at Hermes. But they wouldn’t hire me. Next thing I knew– the day I found out that I might get my record deal– Hermes called me back. Honestly, I was really contemplating both because at first, I didn’t want a major deal.”
On how achieving your dream will not make life perfect:
“Life is struggle, no matter what. My dad passed last Christmas. I wanted to quit rapping, and then my first album came out two weeks later. I was in so much pain, but I couldn’t cry. I kept busy with the music. But, what really made me happy was I at least got to make him proud before I died. That’s all that matters to me. I found my strength in the music and the people.”
On the importance of choosing your passion:
“The hardest thing in life, is figuring out what you want to do. The issue starts with the individual. All the people I grew up with in the hood only glorify three things: basketball players, drug dealers, and rappers. We are capable of more than just that, if you ask me. You know, I’m happy where I’m at. It’s a blessing, but I feel like it’s deeper than labels and stereotypes. It’s all about the way we think. Most of us don’t know what we want. That’s why you have to find yourself. When I found myself, I realized I was a weirdo. I like high fashion and big-booty girls. You have to embrace you. Whatever you do, make it happen and turn it in to something successful.”
By the time A$AP left the building, he gave chances for some of the young girls to sing and gave personal advice on various teenage situations. The Youth At Risk members loved having a celebrity who understood them. What made it even better, was that not long ago, this particular celebrity walked down the same blocks they trekked through to see him.
He left the girls with these words, before they excitedly bombarded him for pictures and autographs. “I don’t have all of the answers. All I’m telling you is what worked for me, and that was being me. Be you and do you.”
To find out how you can get involved with Harlem’s Youth At Risk organization, visit their website, here: http://nyyouthatrisk.org/