A$AP Rocky Visits Harlem Youth At Risk, Aims to Help ‘Regardless of Race and Color’ [EXCLUSIVE]
Despite the snowfall outside, A$AP Rocky made his way to his old-stomping grounds in Harlem, N.Y., to give words of encouragement to a few dozen teenagers at the National Black Theatre on Saturday (Dec. 14). The ladies, many of them young mothers, are mentees in Youth At Risk, a non-profit organization that reaches young people in need of empowerment across New York City.
Around 2PM, the rapper walked into the room and was welcomed by screams and shouts. He sat down in a seat beside Simone "Boss Lady" Amelia, a SiriusXM radio personality and mentor with Youth At Risk, who interviewed him about growing up in Harlem and the obstacles he faced before becoming an international star.
“I remember in 2011, I was so broke,” the 25-year-old admitted. “I was involved in a lot of street dealing and things went bad… I applied for all of these jobs in retail. And one of the places that I really wanted to work was Hermes."
“Next thing I knew, the day I found out that I might get a record deal, Hermes called back like, I just got hired. And I was really contemplating, Hermes or… At first I didn’t want a major deal. It wasn’t until I met with everyone at RCA that I actually wanted to start that family,” he recounted.
The A$AP Mob leader also spoke on losing his father last year close to the release of his No. 1 debut album, ‘Long. Live. ASAP.’ “When my dad passed last Christmas, I wanted to quit rapping, and my album came out like two weeks later,” he revealed. "I was in so much pain I couldn’t cry, so I kept busy with the music. But what really made me happy was I at least got to make him proud before he died.”
Rocky then took time to get to know the young people in the room by listening to their ambitions. One girl, who wanted to put her dance videos on YouTube, said she was afraid of what people might think. “I think you’ll love life way more if you didn’t care what people say,” he told her. Another young woman, who said she wanted to pursue a singing career, shyly sang to Rocky per his request. The song she chose was Etta James' ‘At Last,’ of which she performed as those in the room encouraged her to do so. “That was dope,” the rapper said, smiling.
One of the few other males in the room, a sixth grade student, asked Rocky if he felt the people around him affect the way he lives. “Of course,” he replied. “I’m not saying you gotta cut people off when you get famous but sometimes people aren’t really on the same mental level as you, so you gotta give them that love from a distance."
Before leaving, the MC took a group photo with his supporters. “This is my first time doing something like this in Harlem,” Rocky told The Boombox. “I just want to help people regardless of race and color."
Check out photos from the event below.