He’s had a place in L.A. since 2012, the year after “Purple Swag” and “Peso” established him as the next big thing from NYC. He carried himself like a rock star back then too: He certainly partied like one, and he looked like one, with a Hendrix-like slinkiness and a taste for the avant-garde fashion worlds of Rick Owens and Raf Simons. His musical output was similarly curated. Though today hip-hop is a post-regional genre, at the time Rocky was a radical and controversial artist for the way, under Yams’s guidance, he mixed sounds and styles from New York and down south. Atlanta and Houston were hot. New York’s hip-hop scene was tepid. Rakim Mayers set things on fire.
Even when he’s in L.A., Rocky still moves like a New Yorker. He has a Ferrari and two Mercedes, but he prefers walking, taking Ubers, and riding an e-bike. He spins around his neighborhood to relax, to clear his mind, to see what people are wearing. In NYC, all he has to do to see what styles are popping in the streets is step outside; in L.A., he hops on his bike to seek it out.
Rocky’s lockdown year was spent seeking out something even more important: himself. “I’ve been experimenting in every field,” he says over chamomile tea with honey. “I’ve been experimenting with style, with rhythm, with sonics, film, food, health, love, life—for real.” As the world slowed down, he finally had time to “find out more about me,” he says. He discovered that he’s changing: “I’m converted to the change. New-world shit.” After a stint with sobriety in 2019, last year Rocky returned to smoking copious amounts of kush and dropping LSD, which aided this journey of mind expansion and self-discovery.
“I’m stoned as fuck,” he adds with a sheepish grin soon after sinking deep into the couch next to me. His dream blunt rotation? Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, and Richard Pryor. “I wanna laugh with Richard Pryor,” he says. “You smoke with him, it’s over. It’s over.”
Change, Rocky is saying, is good. In his love life, though, the change Rocky has experienced is drastic. It’s change in the same way that a Mega Millions lottery winner experiences change. Because A$AP Rocky is dating Rihanna.
Rocky knows he probably shouldn’t talk about Rihanna, the triple-A-list pop star, wildly successful fashion and beauty entrepreneur, and Category 5 cultural hurricane, but he can’t help himself. As soon as I bring her up, he starts beaming like a teenager whose crush just accepted his prom invite. I could practically hear the angels singing. “The love of my life,” he calls her. “My lady.”