A Conversation w/ A$AP Ferg: ‘Floor Seats 2’, Being An Innovator in Rap, Hustlers vs. Artists & More

“We care about challenging the listeners ears. They may not like it right now, but in a year or so, they may end up developing a taste for it. We are planting seeds, and that’s something that I want to continue to do as far as being an innovator.”

-A$AP Ferg

In a world where it can be difficult to come up with fresh and current ideas, it can be hard when trying to be an innovator in your craft. Especially in the rap game–it seems as if everything has already been talked about, every beat has been rapped on, and every city has had their shine. Despite the landscape being far more focused on mimicking others, we always have a handful of artists who’s main goal is to stay as fresh as possible–delivering new flows, cadences and instrumentals for us all to learn to love.

The year is 2011, and a brand new rap collective emerged from Harlem, NY which we all know and love now, known as A$AP Mob. A$AP Rocky, the first to blow from the group had all eyes on him, but there was a second member of the group that would follow right behind him, which would be A$AP Ferg. Wasting no time at all, Ferg came right in the game delivering a brand new sound that we had never heard before–which was the perfect blend of the swagger of a Texas playa, and the mindset of a Harlem hustler. In 2013, he released his debut album Trap Lord, which came in the ring swinging with heavy-hitting singles such as “Work (Remix”, “Hood Pope”, and “Shabba”. Since then, it would be very hard to count out A$AP Ferg as one of the more prestigious innovators and sound crafters that this generation has seen. After countless features, a handful of mixtapes and albums, A$AP Ferg has proven time and time again that he is here for a long time, and has no plan on stopping.

Honored to speak with him, we covered a vast amount of topics such as his new project Floor Seats 2, the stance of A$AP Mob and new music, as well as him being more hands on and executive producing. Read our conversation in full below!


 

Recently, we just passed the seven-year anniversary of your debut album Trap Lord, and it’s crazy to think that you’ve been in the game for such a long time. Can you speak a little bit about your career thus far and how everything has been since that moment?

FERG: Everything has been nothing but great thus far. It’s been very fruitful, very exciting since my first album. I could say a lot of ups and downs, but I can’t really say downs because it’s been up since I started. Been some challenges along the way of course like touring I would say. It could be hard on the body and tiring sometimes, but that’s why we train and work out and do what we do. It’s been about ten or eleven years in the making and I ain’t stopped yet. A lot of classic records came out of this shit, so it’s been amazing.

I feel like my career is right on track to what I thought it would be right now. I feel like I’ve grown so much, seen a lot of things, and I got more to talk about. I feel like a new artist right now to be honest. A new artist with a lot to prove. I got places that I still wanna take this music shit—different sonics and visuals. Different people that I’ve never worked with before as far as producers, composers and artists. I wanna continue to innovate and take music to a place that it’s never been before.

You mentioned that you feel like a new artist, which makes me think about your interview with Joe Budden and you told him that you had to kind of take a step back and re-evaluate some things. How important was that process for you?

FERG: The mental and the physical is very delicate and you don’t really get to realize that until you’re in the midst of things. When everything is clouded, you’re on the road and you’re just on autopilot and you can’t really take anything in. The reset is really to find yourself again, get that hunger back, find some new things to talk about, tap in with your family and friends & touch reality again. Those are the things that reflect in my music—I talk about real life situations in my music. Me being able to do that kind of helped me become grounded again. Even with the pandemic, it kind of gave me a little more time to sit down. I hadn’t seen my Mom and my family in a long time. It was a lot of things financially that I had to fix—I had to fire and rehire people. There’s a whole team of people behind Ferg that makes this ship move, and you gotta make sure everyone is on the same page. If everybody is all over the place, then your business is gonna be all over the place as well.

Speaking of the team, you and the A$AP Mob came in the game and showcased an entirely new sound and vibe that we hadn’t heard yet, and we love you all together. Where does the group stand now?

FERG: Yeah everything is cool. I was actually out in LA recently with them—we were working on another Mob album. This is the first time I’m talking about it actually. I left them with like ten records or so.  A lot of people may not realize that when we’re together, we not really on the gram like “yooo with my bros” cause at the end of the day, we really brothers in real life. We don’t feel the need to put everything we do on blast and we don’t do it for the internet and that’s what I think keeps us so close. We may be in business together but we all brothers first. We we’re out there for about a month in a loft—all of us were staying in the same loft. We were just building and creating. We had a studio setup in there, and we were all just in there vibing. At this point, it might not be another Cozy Tapes though—it might be something brand new.

Every time you drop an album; I feel like you always come with an entirely new sound. What is it that inspires you to approach each album this way?

FERG: I think that’s just a part of my energy period. I feel like I’m just always looking for new sounds and new vibes for me to get into. I’m always collecting references and always wanting to bring something new to the table. We’re in a time where there’s a lot of hustlers and there’s a lot of artists. There’s a lot of hustlers in the game and I love the hustlers, but at the same time, that doesn’t feed the artists. The hustlers inspire other hustlers. To simplify it more, the hustlers only care about putting numbers on the board and selling more—they don’t really care about innovation. They don’t really care about doing something new as far as the artistry goes. That’s where the artists come into play. We are about the sounds. We care about how people are listening to the music. We care about challenging the listeners ears. They may not like it right now, but in a year or so, they may end up developing a taste for it. We are planting seeds, and that’s something that I want to continue to do as far as being an innovator.

What I’ve been doing going forward, I’ve been working with more contemporary producers. For a long time, I put producers on, and I signed producers. From Trap Lord all the way up to Floor Seats has been producers that I found that I fuck with. This time around, I’m working with Murda Beatz, Mustard, Hit-Boy, Tay Keith—just different people that are playing in the field right now. I’ve already proved myself as far as putting people on, so now I want to try and work with more producers in the big leagues as well.

The amount of artistry that you showcase is very rare now a days—do you think you get the respect that you deserve in the game as a tastemaker?

FERG: I think I do get the credit sometimes, but I think there will always be more work to do. I’m still young and I’m still proving to the world what I can do. Some people know the music but don’t know the face. Some people may not even know that it was me on a particular song. I always think back to when Jay Z hopped on the train and the older white lady didn’t know who he was. It made me realize like “damn, some people don’t even know who Jay Z is”. That being said, some people may not even know to give credit because I still have more work to do. No artist in the world will ever get ALL the credit they deserve. If you an artist and you got all the credit and you out here rockin’, then what else do you have to work for? It definitely humbles me and keeps that fire in me to keep innovating and keep working.

I spoke with Razjah [producer of “Value”] and he had a lot of amazing things to say about you guys’ relationship. Can you speak more about how you two became so close?

FERG: I met Razjah around the time I was working on Trap Lord. I think I met him on Twitter or either I met him through VERY RVRE. He showed up and he showed out. He produced the only track that A$AP Yams ever hopped on , “Let It Go”—the intro to the Trap Lord album. We started creating a sound together which was a really tribal, industrial, dangerous sound—and we have been working ever since. This year, we dropped another hit called “Value”. He’s a cool dude and he’s super talented and I love working with him. He’s one of those guys that didn’t have a big name before Trap Lord and I gave him that opportunity and that extra push. We got the right chemistry so I feel like we can always collab and get shit crackin’ no matter what.

“Value” is all over the place to in video games and movies and all of that and it feels amazing to know that people are rockin’ with it like that. I knew it was gonna be a big record too just because I look at all my records the same. When you have kids, you don’t look at one and say one is more beautiful than the other—you treat them all the same and that’s how I treat my music. Even though I may have one song that’s smoother, one that’s aggressive, one that’s a party record, I still treat all of them the same and they all spread my energy around the world in different ways.

What is your creative process like when you make these songs? Do you purposely go in with the intention to make hits or do you just go in and create?

FERG: Usually it would start off by me playing beats with the producers and I let the beat take me somewhere and get inspired form the beat. Recently when I’ve been trying to innovate and create new sounds,  I’ve been just playing music that I love and try to get inspired by it. Sometimes I would hear a sound and be like “I want to live in this world” and I’ll tell the producers to take a sound or two from that and create. Or movie scores like “Rush Hour” or something, with the oriental sounds and stuff like that. I like to just blend worlds and help guide the beat. I guess you could call it executive producing. I don’t really know how to make beats or use the beat machine that well yet, but I know where to pull sounds from and where to place them on the record. As far as me learning to produce, I’ve been learning Ableton, but that’s like speaking another language. It’s gonna take some time but I’ve been taking the time out and learning lessons on it.

Since you and the A$AP Mob came in the New York scene, I feel like we hadn’t really heard anything that fresh and new from New York up until recently. How do you feel about the direction of the artists buzzing in. New York right now?

FERG: I love it. I love J.I—that kid is super smart. I love his music and the way he carries himself. Lil Tjay—he out here bringing that energy. Pop Smoke rest in peace—he was bringing that raw street energy. Shit, he even inspired me. A Boogie. Young M.A. Bobby Shmurda coming back home soon. I love all the new kids to be honest. I’m a fan of the kids who aren’t afraid to be themselves and embrace who they are.

You spoke a little bit about being more on the executive side of things and you have you own label Sewer Sounds in the works. What is it that made you want to get into that side of the artistry?

FERG: I think that I just enjoy seeing other people make it—that’s how I get off now. I knew exactly what it took for myself to make it, so I see things in other people that they may not see. I want to help them bloom and elevate and take them to that next level to where they can be at. They give me tons of respect with me being a little bit older than them. I actually am just starting to get used to the whole me being an OG type of thing. I’m still getting my shit off and I’m still trying to improve myself, but now I understand that kids do look up to me for guidance. When people call me OG, I don’t even be feeling like I’m an OG because I still got so much shit I wanna get off and want to improve myself.

With the pandemic, a lot of artists are postponing a lot of their plans until 2021, and you’re getting ready to drop another project Floor Seats II. How did you decide that you’re ready to drop right now, opposed to dropping later?

FERG: Really because I have so much music in the tuck. A lot of the songs I have that I put out, are older songs sometimes. “Move Ya Hips” is an older song, but it’s timeless and can ring off at any time. I love to create timeless shit and let it sit for a bit and wait until its ready to go. I play it at cookouts and people will be like “yooo that was hard, you need to drop that!” and that’s when I know it’s time to go.

I also think that I’m just done with the overthinking stage of my career. Pitbull told me one thing that really stuck with me. He told me that all my songs are hits for my fans, and it’s not like a crazy hit formula to them. It’s all just about expression for me and I’m just doing what I do. I don’t even really know what it’s like to purposely try to make a hit song because I just go in and create. I have a talent and a gift from God himself to just go in and create and come out with hit records. I just stopped overthinking it and I’m just always ready to drop.

Do you feel any sort of pressure with album sales, streaming numbers, deluxe albums and all of that?

FERG: Not too much. This is actually the first time that I’m having to deal with a lot of that—similar to the Nicki fans that were mad that our song didn’t go number one and stuff like that. I never really got too caught up in the numbers thing because I’ve never done anything in my career for numbers. I’m taken care of already and I got my family taken care of and I’m eating. My fans are getting the good music in return and it makes me feel good knowing that they’re loving it and it resonates with them.

I’m not really tripping about the deluxe albums and all of that just because I have so much music that I wanna get out to the world. I’m actually excited about that. I’m super free right now and ready to give. I’m in a really great space and I’ve proved myself time and time again. It’s just me having fun and enjoying the craft at this point. I go by my own pace and my teams’ pace at all times. Of course I got so much music and I could flood the market if I really want to, but at the same time, I wanna be innovative as well. Going back to what I said earlier, that’s part of the hustlers just putting out songs and focused on streaming numbers. I got a lot of music and I’m ready for the world to hear it, but it will always be on my time.

Floor Seats II is coming out very soon—what can we expect to hear from this project this time around?

FERG: Expect the unexpected. Expect a lot of energy. Expect the Ferg that you know and love already. Diving deeper into my life. You’re getting the very detail side of my life. Look at this project as you’re sitting at the floor seats at a game and you’re witnessing all these A-List players, which are my features. It’s gonna be a beautiful game—just sit back and enjoy.

Photo Cred: Renell Medrano