Rakim Athelaston Mayers (named after “The God MC” Rakim), better known by his stage name, A$AP Rocky, hails from Harlem, New York. He is no stranger to the cliché rap lifestyle, popularized by fellow Harlem Patriarchs, from Big L and Kool Moe Dee to Mase and Cam'ron. However, Rocky’s melodic rap style has drawn more immediate comparisons to recently incarcerated Harlemite Max B.
Rocky’s career began in 2007, when he joined the Harlem-based A$AP Mob, founded by A$AP Yams, A$AP Bari and A$AP Illz. Rocky was projected into fame in 2011 following the release of his debut mixtape LIVE.LOVE.A$AP, which featured hits like “Peso” and “Purple Swag,” and earned him a record deal with RCA Records.
His debut studio album, Long. Live. A$AP was released in 2013, after several pushbacks by his label. Long.Live.A$AP was thought to exceed the promises of his debut mixtape, preserving Rocky’s immaculate taste while smartly upgrading his sound.
After month’s of teasing projects, one of which included a completely experimental instrumental album, Rocky returned with the Juicy J aided track “Multiply” in 2014, as well as “Lord Pretty Flacko Joyde” on New Year’s 2015. Both of these tracks served as promotional singles for Flacko next record, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP. Before the album’s release however, long-time friend and mentor A$AP Yams passed due to an overdose, which left a huge mark on Rakim ever since. The album was released on May 26th 2015, following a leak one week prior to its initial release date. Upon its release, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP received generally positive to mixed reviews from music critics, including praises for the psychedelic anthem “L$D”.
After a brief hiatus from solo music, and an increasing indulgence into fashion and art, Rocky announced that he was working on an upcoming studio album entitled TESTING. On May 25, 2018, the album was released and was met with mixed reviews, primarily due to the album being Rocky’s most experimental project yet.
Flacko’s music can be characterised by its lucid and cloud-like feeling, though Rocky never hesitates to drop bars when he needs to. It is also thought that Rocky has some of the best music videos in the game.
However, being a staple in new-school hip-hop, Rocky’s success and accolades aren’t limited to music. He’s widely acclaimed for his impeccable fashion sense, and was named one of the most influential names in fashion of 2017. He was even featured on the cover of a 2017 issue of GQ magazine, and labeled as the “World’s Flyest Human.” He also established his own creative collective/record label AWGE in the same year.