Depending on where you first heard of A$AP Rocky, the first time might have been on a reasonably popular blog called realniggatumblr. The site mentioned him before anyone else, and well before his hit tumblr singles “Purple Swag” and “Peso” got him on a major label. realniggatumblr was a humorous mix of rap industry stories, 90s magazine scans, Bricksquad songs, and lots and lots of Dipset (with a heavy focus on Max B and Cam’ron). The blog was run by the one of the A$AP Mob members, known as A$AP Yams, but before was known by that name (at least publicly), and before A$AP Rocky’s videos blew up; the site was your favorite rap writer’s favorite site.
Looking back through the site, a month or so ago, I started to notice how photo scans from the site correlated to videos by A$AP Rocky and the other Mob members. So, in a sense realniggatumblr has been a secret, yet public, story board for their videos. Even with multiple directors the exaggerated 90s Rap aesthetic runs through A$AP Ferg’s ridiculous Christ imagery of “A Hundred Million Roses” and even Rocky’s display of faux-wealth with a purple neighborhood full of mansions in “Wassup”.
The stylistic choice personally started to be become more off-putting to me than just twisted nostalgia. The video for A$AP Rocky’s major label single “Goldie” features numerous shots of naked women inter-spliced between Rocky and Yams driving around Paris and also dancing carrying golden wine bottle in eye grabbing furs on rooftops. It all kind of recalls 90s Bad Boy videos were Puff Daddy would awkwardly dance (Yams) and mug for the camera (Rocky) in their million dollar plus videos. Yet, that’s a kind of a weird point of reference for 2012.
No, one makes those types of videos anymore. Labels aren’t throwing that type of money around on videos, so even major rappers who have the money treat videos as less of events than just documents of their everyday lives (this is excluding YMCMB & Kanye West, who don’t really exist in a world where money is matters and their videos show it). And, here we get “Goldie”, featuring gold bottles, gold guns, obnoxious furs, and acts like the global recession is behind us or at least thinks it’s 1996 and that people still buy albums that can support such ridiculous videos (or maybe think of it as less kaleidoscope-y “Niggas in Paris” video).
His early videos (“Purple Swag” & “Peso”) were still showcases of alcohol, drugs, and dudes hanging out with other dudes, but those featured an intoxicated hazy realness, which has since been replaced with pure magazine fantasy. Aspiration for a better life is heard in a lot of rap music, but when that dream is finally realized and it looks like slickly re-imagined magazine scans (sans-graininess), it’s kind sad to think the end goal was to have video where Rocky sits in a bathtub of cash as two women are making out with each in the shower in the background of the shot. Or maybe it makes sense, when he’s brought out Master P (who hasn’t been relevant in over a decade) on stage and on the music side overly references the chopped-and-screwed sound from DJ Screw (again over a decade reference), so maybe I’m wrong to assume ones dreams do change after the age of 13.