Can A$AP Rocky, a young Harlem rapper with a love for high-end streetwear and Southern-style beats, bring the spotlight back to hip-hop’s birthplace? Drake and Snoop Dogg are among the genre’s stars who seem to think so.

Drake had Rocky open on his recent Club Paradise tour. With his mix tape, “Live-LoveA$AP,” he’s been keeping the Internet buzzing with a stream of music and self-directed videos. And that buzz is so big that it resulted in a $3 million label deal with RCA for himself and his crew, A$AP Mob. Now with Rocky’s single “Peso” jumping on mainstream radio, the rapper — or “that pretty motherf—,” as he’s called himself — is hitting the road for his first headlining tour.

Rocky’s given name is Rakim Mayers, named after one-half of the legendary hip-hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. So how does a kid from Harlem named after a hip-hop legend develop such a love for that Houston sound?

“When I first heard it,” he says, “it just appealed to me so much that it became a habit.”


Rocky says he’s enjoyed not only getting respect from his elders, but also advice.

“Some young rappers are too stubborn and disrespectful to take heed,” he says. “Young rappers get caught up in the hype. Me? I’m always in student mode.”

But this intergenerational exchange works both ways.

“Technically we are smarter than the generation before us,” he says. “We have technology and all that revolutionary s—. The older generation is more wise. And there is a difference between wit and wisdom.”

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