A$AP Ferg feels like he’s going to design a shoe. He’s just toured through New Zealand by way of Japan and arrived fresh off his flight at the Sneaker Freaker HQ in Melbourne, Australia. He’s wearing impenetrable shades and his mouth flashes equal parts gold and silver when he explains why sneaker design is on his mind. ‘It’s like when I sit down with adidas; I’m in a room surrounded by mad shoes.’
Ferg fans will remember the last sneaker he did with the Three Stripes – an Adi Ease covered with maxims and drawn symbols. Named the ‘Trap Lord’, its release followed Ferg’s 2015 album of the same name. Today he confirms with us that another is on the way – although not for a moment. ‘I got another shoe coming out,’ he starts, ‘we’re just figuring out the silhouette and garments I want to do with it. It’s in the crawling stages.’
A lot of rappers have shoe collaborations. The progression of rap, build a fan base, and then put out a sneaker is a classic one – but it’s not Ferg’s. His first label, Devoni, was being worn by Chris Brown before the two knew each other musically, and it’s his fashion chops more than his profile that have given weight to his collaborations.
Ferg cites his capsule collection with AGOLDE as evidence, ‘They’re not just into working with a rapper. They could have gotten anybody they want to work with. But the reason I feel like they wanted to work with me is because they knew that I’m really into the brand. I wanted to sit down and learn, and they wanted to sit down and teach, so it wasn’t like “All right, we’re just going to license your name for these jeans.” It didn’t work like that’. Instead, the collection involved an intensive schooling on denims that Ferg soaked up. He gets enthusiastic as he barrages me with info on washes, tumbling, laser machines from Turkey and zip companies that taught him about nickel plating.
[caption id="attachment_234974" align="alignnone" width="700"] Image via Complex[/caption]
Though we wish we were designing a shoe together, it’s Ferg’s music that brings him into the office today. Always Strive And Prosper is a rebirth of an album that details Ferg’s transition from Trap Lord to Hood Pope via his observations on life and finding his station in it. Its sound recognises both the current fluidity of hip hop’s boundaries as well as its stern borders earlier on, but doesn’t entirely settle on either.
It’s a way of working that he attributes to getting Missy Elliot, who he sees as his Michael Jackson, to feature on ‘Strive’. ‘Yo, this is the music I want to make!’ he recounts Missy saying to Timberland when hearing the demo version. He tells me he met them in a Virginian studio after Jay Z had told Timberland about his music. These aren’t names he drops flippantly, and he seems to still savour the feeling of recognition. ‘They said, if I was making music back then, I would have been making music with them. And it was the biggest compliment I’ve ever had.’
ASAP is definitely a different vibe from Trap Lord, but his fans are still feeling it. ‘It’s crazy to see people get a reaction to it. When I’m in the studio creating a song I know it’s dope because I feel it when it comes out of me, but I don’t know how people will take to it. [ASAP] doesn’t sound like the rest of my music, so when I’m performing and people go crazy, in a festival or a show like last night, it just lets me know I’m going in the right direction. It’s progression for me – it shows I can have a song like “Work”, a song like “Shabba”, a song like “New Level” and a song like “Strive.”
[caption id="attachment_234976" align="alignnone" width="700"] Image via @ASAPFERG[/caption]
Ever attentive to fashion, Ferg notes that he’s seeing a UK influence in the crowds he performs to. ‘Track suits and man bags’ he says are big. Ferg’s latest video for ‘World is Mine’ with Big Sean has him in the type of attire you’d find in The Godfather, but he’s still on the sportswear tip – especially with sneakers. ‘I’m getting way more into sports this year. I’ve been more into athletic gear because I’ve been paying attention to the Olympics. I really like track and running sneakers like the boosts, all the technology that adidas are coming up with. They’ve got sneakers in Flight Club for like 400-500 dollars, track sneakers. I think that’s dope because it’s promoting health’.
When it comes to specific model he’s liking he’s careful not to single any out, showing that he doesn’t take stylistics decisions lightly. He does volunteer that he’s working with adidas’ skate division – but until Ferg really does sit down to design a shoe, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Ferg's new album, Always Strive And Prosper, is available here.