After this month's deadly police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philano Castile and the continued conversation that’s followed, comments that A$AP Rocky made in a September 2015 interview recirculated online and caused renewed controversy. On Wednesday (July 20), Rocky stopped by The Breakfast Club on Power 105.1 to attempt to clarify some of those comments.
“I feel like that whole interview was taken out of context, as far as what I said. I feel terrible,” he said. “As a black man. As an American. This shit is crazy ... I just don't understand how they keep saying a dark-skinned nigga don't like black people. And it's because you do these interviews with these European reporters, these journalists who want to make a name for themselves, and they take your shit out of context.”
The interview in question was with Time Out New York, in a story where Rocky is asked about array of topics, from music to fashion to drugs. The section that triggered blowback, though, was about how he views his responsibility as an artist:
An argument did arise, though, at Oxford University, when you said you didn't want to get political in your music.
I think speaking on a subject is fine but I don't feel like I need to make songs off of it. If I felt like doing it I would. [That student’s] whole question was, “Why haven't you [gotten political]?” I'm like, Bitch, ’cause I don't feel like it. Kendrick is doing that already. J. Cole is doing it already. Let them deal with that shit. I wanna talk about the fucked-up shit in my life. Not that fucked-up shit I see on TV. Because I'm not there. How am I gonna talk about something I'm not helping? It's fucked up. It's a touchy subject.
Do you ever feel like you’re being forced to address these issues?
They're not forcing me to do shit. I'm just gonna stay black and die. Why, because I'm black? So every time something happens because I'm black I gotta stand up? What the fuck am I, Al Sharpton now? I'm A$AP Rocky. I did not sign up to be no political activist. I wanna talk about my motherfuckin' lean, my best friend dying, the girls that come in and out of my life, the jiggy fashion that I wear, my new inspirations in drugs! I don't wanna talk about no fucking Ferguson and shit because I don't live over there! I live in fucking Soho and Beverly Hills. I can't relate. I'm in the studio; I'm in these fashion studios; I'm in these bitches' drawers. I'm not doing anything outside of that. That's my life.
When the comments were dug back up and spread on Twitter last week, Rocky addressed them in a series of tweets, but he went further and more in-depth in the new interview.
“There's so much I want to say, I don't know what to say first,” he continued. “Your favorite rappers today — I don't know if it's Thug, Future, Drake, anybody — you don't always hear they content about the political shit going on, or all that other shit. Why put me on a pedestal for that, especially when I'm not asking for that?
“I want to make music. I want to inspire. I want to promote peace. ’Cause at a time like this, I don't have all the answers. I'm not tryna run for Congress, I'm not tryna run for office. I don't have all the answers. I want to promote prosperity, especially for black people. Especially for young people, ambitious people, underprivileged.”
He added later: “At the end of the day, how we all going to be militant if we not as a unit? You got brothers saying, ‘Aight, when the cops kill us, we gotta stick together.’ But when this is all said and done, it's back to, ‘Fuck you’ and ‘Fuck you.’ That mentality. That crabs in a barrel.”
When Charlamagne asked if he feels like he needs to “stand up for black people and black causes,” Rocky responded: “I'm a dark-skinned handsome man. Every day I stand up for black people. But at the end of the day, I represent a culture that reaches beyond just our skin color. It's really a culture. I stand for kids that don’t really see that racism shit. Those are my people. That shit trash. They trying to promote that and make it bigger, and I feel like we was finally getting to a place where all of that in our country was dead. Not dead, but it was all memories. You go certain places and you feel it, but it wasn't on everybody's radar.”
Rocky continues on this topic and also touches on a lot more in the 41-minute interview, which you can watch in full above.