By Rob Markman
A$AP Rocky couldn't tell you the blueprint for his sudden rise to fame, because the Harlem native broke the mold by signing a major-label record deal before he even premiered his first mixtape.
Two songs, a bit of hustle and some luck is all it took for Rakim Mayers to turn his penchant for spitting Syrup-drenched raps and his knack for fashion into a full-fledged business. Now he is an inductee into MTV Jams' Fab 5 of 2012 class.
"If I wasn't doin' this right now, I would probably still be hustlin', not making no money," Rocky told MTV News, alluding to his former life selling God knows what in Harlem, New York. "I mean, it got to the point where I wasn't making no money at all. I went from making a lot of money to damn near making none, so hustling ain't for me."
Rocky clearly found his calling with MCing. His first two singles, "Purple Swag" and "Pe$o," were unforgettable, his LiveLoveA$AP mixtape was a 2011 standout and his upcoming major-label debut LongLiveA$AP is among this year's most anticipated. To tell the truth, he was a shoo-in for Fab 5.
Conceived on MTV Jams in 2005, the Fab 5 is a collection of the year's most outstanding new hip-hop artists who have made an impact on everything from touring to releasing their debut albums. Fab 5 alumni include Juelz Santana, Young Jeezy, Drake, Big Sean and Meek Mill. This year, MTV Jams, MTV News and Sucker Free will bring you 2012's hottest hip-hop upstarts, and A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar are amongst the brightest.
Though he reps Harlem to the fullest, Rocky is the poster child for a new generation of MCs that draw inspiration from all points across the map. His rap style has for the most part been directly linked to Houston's slow and drippy chopped and screwed scene, but at times his love for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's Midwest melodies are also apparent. Rock's A$AP crew harnesses the energy of a new-age Dipset, but when it's all mixed together, his movement provides something new, fresh and distinct. That's why the fans have flocked.
"The fact that they even acknowledge me and appreciate me for what I'm doing right now is just a gift within itself. I just wanna thank them personally," Rocky told us of his fans. "I got supporters, I got people. It's a cult following."
Check back next Monday to find out who will join Kendrick Lamar in the Fab 5. And tune in to "RapFix Live," where each artist will be highlighted.