A$AP Rocky's "F----n' Problems" is nominated for Best Hip Hop Video at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, and while the Harlem rapper admits he wasn't expecting a nod for that particular clip, his upcoming visuals for Long.Live.A$AP's "Phoenix" might prove to be his most lauded release yet.
On the "Phoenix" video set in New York City, A$AP explained that his usual fly trimmings just wouldn't be sufficient for a song that cuts so deep.
"This is one of the more serious songs on my album, so people are really expecting something cinematic from this video," Lord Pretty Flacko told MTV News. "They don't expect the average...me with my gold teeth and swag, it's just really about a life message."
"My whole album is based upon life," he added. "It's just showing that we vicariously live forever. Tupac, Biggie, Elvis Presley, John Legend, Basquiat are living through all of us because we bring them up every day."
A$AP Rocky and director Francesco Carrozzini recruited an all-star cast for the dramatic clip, including The Wire's Michael K. Williams and supermodel Joan Smalls. "With a talent like [Rocky,] you just want to make something that people will remember," Carrozzini told MTV News. "And we were able to involve Michael K. Williams and Joan Small in the video too, which is gonna make it pretty dope."
Without giving away too much of the video's storyline, Joan Smalls explained her role in the clip. "Michael K. Williams and myself, we're a couple. We had a late night out and I find out something extremely shocking, and when we come back home, we start arguing and it just develops into something so tumultuous and intense that I let my rage take control of me."
Before A$AP's album dropped in January, he addressed the painful lyrics on "Phoenix" explaining his references to fallen icons like Michael Jackson and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain ("Bloody ink on my pad spelled suicide/Michael Jackson even passed 'cause you scrutinized").
"Those are natural feelings that we all get sometimes. You hurt so bad and you're going through so much pain to the point where sometimes you don't even wanna live anymore," he told MTV News at the time. "That's how a lot of people think, whether we'd like to admit it or not and that's all I was showcasing. It was that emotion...suicidal kinda emotions."
Still, A$AP adds that the song's message is one of reincarnation and the potential to live forever. "It's all about living, and 'Phoenix' is being reincarnated through your own ashes, so it's just more of a serious note," he said.