Always Strive And Prosper
January 20, 2015 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Steven Rodriguez, aka ASAP Yams, died on Sunday, Jan. 18th. He was 26.

Yams was a member of ASAP Mob, a Harlem-based hip hop collective that he founded in 2007 alongside ASAP Bari and ASAP Illz.

The group's rise to prominence began in 2011 when ASAP Rocky's debut mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP, was posted onto Yams' now defunct "REALNIGGATUMBLR". Peso, the lead single from the mixtape, set the stage for what the young rapper, and the group, wished to accomplish in terms of style and substance. While Rocky (and later, ASAP Ferg), were at the forefront of the movement, Yams was always in the background doing work. Described as the "Yoda to Rocky's Luke Skywalker", he was the taste maker and promoter for the group, largely responsible for helping craft ASAP Rocky's sound by listening to what was hot on the streets and what was hot on the internet.

Complex: From Tumblr to God's Ears: Remembering the Genius of A$AP Yams (auto-play video behind link)

"As if to prove A$AP's early success wasn't a fluke, after creating a star with Rocky, he did it again with A$AP Ferg. Ferg's debut album, Trap Lord, also melded together an expertly curated melange of regional influences. It broke into the top 10 of the Billboard chart and birthed a top 40 single in "Shabba." But Yams wasn't solely focused on his crew, he had enough knowledge for everyone who wanted to listen. He started to help cultivate the careers of up-and-comers like Bodega Bamz, Aston Matthews, Joey Fatts, and Vince Staples. He was the new Irv Gotti, the new Dame Dash, the new Russell Simmons, the new Eazy E."

The New York Times: A Hip-Hop ‘Spirit Guide’ and Online Taste Maker. ASAP Yams, of ASAP Worldwide, Bridged Hip-Hop Regions and Generations

"Yams had his eye on a bigger goal: taking a shot at making the history himself. He used his blog to help start the career of ASAP Rocky, a longtime friend and collaborator. Rocky’s sound was purposefully hybrid, as conscious of Houston and Memphis and Los Angeles as New York. For many, that was sacrilege. For Yams, it was the way forward.

I spent time with Yams in 2012, just before the release of Rocky’s debut, “Long.Live.ASAP” (Polo Grounds/RCA), as part of a series on behind-the-scenes forces in the music industry. Unlike other people I spoke with, Yams played a role that was misty; he was, he said with characteristic cheek, a “spirit guide.”"

MTV: ASAP Mob Founder ASAP Yams Dead At 26. A$AP Yams was the visionary force behind the rise of New York's hip-hop collective A$AP Mob.

"“Yams is the hip-hop encyclopedia, Rocky told the Times. “He’s no joke. That’s one person I can’t front on when it comes to music.”

A$AP Mob members Rocky, Ferg, A$AP Nast​ are all slated to put out projects this year, no word yet on how this unexpected death will effect those releases. Members from the ASAP Mob and the larger hip-hop community have begun to share their grief and condolences."

The 2013 New York Times profile on him: Not Like the Old Boss: Hip-Hop’s Spirit Guide

"Much of what you hear in Rocky — a fully assimilated take on hip-hop styles from across the country and from across time periods — can be traced back to Yams, who spent his formative years studying the genre, then learning how to transmit his taste to others. Hip-hop has long been obsessed with fealty to a specific place and time, and Yams’s vision of the genre as an open house, not a fortress, qualifies as a radical one.

He’s happy, though, to exert pull in the shadows.

“He don’t want to be Puffy,” Rocky said, recalling Puff Daddy’s late-1990s turn from music executive to frontman. ”He’s the mastermind behind the scenes.”"

Complex also has a spectacular compilation of some of the mixes he posted on his now-defunct blog. TONS of great music to be found here.

Noisey's ASAP Rocky documentary SVDDXNLY, which features Yams and many other members of the group.
posted by gucci mane (20 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:32 PM on January 20, 2015

posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 2:33 PM on January 20, 2015

posted by naju at 2:39 PM on January 20, 2015

posted by oceanjesse at 2:42 PM on January 20, 2015

posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:48 PM on January 20, 2015

26. Damn.
posted by gwint at 2:52 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by Jon_Evil at 2:58 PM on January 20, 2015

Here's the archived tumblr (almost definitely NSFW) he used to help promote the A$AP gang before it was deleted.

The melding of the chopped and screwed sounds with some of the NY rapping (e. g. Purple Swag) as the articles above reference was/is pretty cool.
posted by yeahwhatever at 3:03 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

This long interview w/ Yams on Passion of the Weiss is great, too.

Pitchfork, too with this choice quote:
I’ma bite Up North Trips, I’ma take the Dirty Glove content and I’ma mix it with Noz’s whole writing style

You can tell from these interviews that dude was a hustler and a fan... I appreciate that.

posted by raihan_ at 3:32 PM on January 20, 2015

posted by Michele in California at 3:39 PM on January 20, 2015

posted by allthinky at 3:41 PM on January 20, 2015

posted by GrammarMoses at 4:19 PM on January 20, 2015

Man. Whole lot of codeine and xanax glorification imagery in those videos, and his last tweet is tragic. Guy was clearly a rising force, real tough story to read.

Don't know for sure if that's what happened, but if so, hopefully it's a huge wake up call for his crew. Those drugs are no joke, much more addictive than commonly thought and with physical dependency coming on pretty quickly.

posted by T.D. Strange at 4:30 PM on January 20, 2015

Chilling passage from the 2013 NYT profile:

He also has his own demons to quell. His stories of crazy tour escapades — like the night at the Coachella music festival when, high on Xanax and syrup, he almost choked on his own vomit in his sleep — are legion and largely unprintable. On his left arm is a tattoo that reads, “Black Out” next to Xanax bars. “Yams has a penchant for living on the edge,” Mr. Johnson admitted. “Black Out Boyz is very real.”

Yams admitted: “I got to chill. It’s not a good look up there in the office. They’re not gonna have any faith.”

posted by naju at 4:36 PM on January 20, 2015

posted by carbide at 4:50 PM on January 20, 2015

What a fucking pity. Godspeed Yams.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:26 PM on January 20, 2015

This is a bummer.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:42 AM on January 21, 2015

his friends are on social media swearing it wasn't an overdose, saying it was severe sleep apnea, but a lot of people are pointing out that's what pills and lean will do to you. i wish this would be a wake up call to others in the scene, but we've been watching young popular folks die from this concoction for a minute already. hell yams probably would have told you that some of his biggest influences from the last 15 or 20 years met a similar end.

he will be greatly missed and we're poorer for the loss.
posted by nadawi at 6:38 AM on January 21, 2015

posted by ndfine at 9:10 AM on January 21, 2015

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