A $ AP Ferg on Always Strive and Prosper.
As said to: Aleia Woods
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on the stands now.
A $ AP Ferg had a specific mission with his 2016 album, Always strive and thrive. The business was introspective and transparent. Known for his vibrant and energetic cuts, the Harlem native took a different approach with Always strive and thrive. He wanted to show his depth, growth and evolution as an artist while also personifying the acronym of his rap collective A $ AP Mob, which is part of the album’s title. In the process of making the LP, Ferg has worked with artists he revere as Missy Elliott and Chuck D of Public Enemy, allowing Ferg to intentionally and purposefully assemble an offering that represents layers of himself that had not yet been fully revealed to the world. In album fifth anniversary honor, Ferg returns to his opus.
A $ AP Ferg: “I brought lyrics and stories about my family [on the album]. So I have a song called “Psycho”, which is my uncle’s name. I had a song called “Grandma” and I worked with one of my favorite artists, you know, I got a little bit of my style, my juice and my taste, which is Missy Elliott. I call Missy – she is my twin – me, she and Busta Rhymes are triplets. I represented my tribe very early on, people I could really come into contact with and felt I could see myself. She was definitely one of them, the GOAT. It felt really good to make him a song.
I met Missy through Timbaland. I was in Virginia to work on my album. And then I get a call from Timbaland, who’s like, crazy. It’s like a call from Jesus Christ, God wanted to work. And I’m like, Oh, damn yeah. Master of all masters, Timbaland. Yeah, I think it was one of my producers, it was Rajah. His manager at the time contacted him to connect me to Timbaland and Timbaland told me he wanted to introduce me to Missy. So I’m like, Damn, I didn’t even meet Timbaland, but I guess he knew I was part of their tribe. So he contacted me. He put me in touch with Missy.
The way a lot of the songs played out there was really like … it was divine because even with the song ‘Beautiful People’ with Chuck D and my grandma it was still a dream to love , put my grandmother on a song. She gives me a kind of Maya Angelou vibe. She’s very Afro-centric, in dance, in culture, African American culture, African culture and has done a lot for the community. And she has a beautiful voice. She’s not a singer or anything like that, but she can be and she adores Maya Angelou. So I told my grandmother to write some poetry or something that she would like to tell the world and adapt it to what I was talking about in “Beautiful People”.
And I was looking for Chuck D for a long time. I didn’t know how to reach him … And I ran into him in a restaurant, which was super crazy. He was there with his daughter. We were in a Jamaican restaurant – Negril. He was coming out and I’m like, Damn, I’ll miss him. I’m like, I can’t miss it. This is intended. So, I arrested his daughter before she left him behind. I’m like, ‘I’m a huge fan of your dad, I’m A $ AP Ferg … I would love to make music with him.’ She gave me a card, I think. And I reached out to him, he reached out and we did the song.
‘New level’ [is] just talk about me who always aspires and finally to prosper, which is true to the title of the album and the acronym that we live. So here is. This is what “New Level” was. So you could take the time and hear what I’m saying. It’ll be the Bible in people’s ears because it’s a ragged affair. It’s about overcoming obstacles and tough times and really doing something for yourself.
See Cardi B’s photo shoot in XXL Spring 2021 magazine issue