ASAP Rocky, a rapper from Harlem who gained popularity with the release of the album, Long.Live.ASAP, has confirmed the death of hip-hop executive ASAP Yams via his Twitter page. ASAP Yams, 26, was a large force behind ASAP Rocky’s success. While the details of the hip-hop mogul’s death have not been revealed, the hip-hop community is mourning the loss of a respected leader.
ASAP Yams was the moniker of Steven Rodriguez, who co-owned the ASAP Worldwide (commonly stylized as A$AP) label. In addition, he founded the collective of New York-based fashion designers, producers, rappers and video directors known as the ASAP Mob, and is credited with assisting the group in the securing of their first big record contract. Many members of the group used the name ASAP in their names, including ASAP Rocky and ASAP Ferg. Before his rise with the ASAP Mob, Yams ran an influential hip-hop blog.
During his childhood on the south side of Harlem, Yams, also known as “Yamborghini,” became a fan and student of hip-hop. He left high school early without graduating and interned at Diplomats Records, which produced albums by prominent rappers, including Juelz Santana and Cam’ron.
Yams, who has been compared to other hip-hop bigwigs like Puff Daddy, met ASAP Rocky in 2008 after mutual friends introduced them. In 2011, after Yams posted a song by Rocky called Purple Swag on his Tumblr blog, Rocky’s career began to heat up. In a 2013 interview with The New York Times, ASAP Rocky said that his mentor liked being “the mastermind behind the scenes.” The two men developed the eventual sound of ASAP Rocky’s music together, causing Yams to compare Rocky to Luke Skywalker, with Yams as his Yoda.
ASAP Mob’s debut, a mixtape called Lords Never Worry, was released as a free download in August 2012. In the months after, ASAP Rocky worked on promoting his solo debut album, which would be accompanied by a 40-date national tour called “The Long Live ASAP Tour.” The album was released in January 2013 and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. The offering, which garnered mostly positive reviews, sold 139,000 copies during its first week of release.
Although he found success as a hip-hop executive, Yams fought a battle against drug abuse. In 2013, he admitted to having choked on his own vomit while he slept after using narcotic cough syrup and Xanax during the Coachella music festival. He acknowledged his need to rein in his abusive behavior, saying that he had to present a “good look” in the offices of ASAP Worldwide so that the artists working under him would continue to put their trust in his judgment. In July 2014, Yams went to rehab to help kick his addiction, but his last tweet, which was “Bodeine Brazy,” seemed to reference the drug he preferred.
The founder of the ASAP Mob boasted 75,000 followers of his Twitter page, which he had recently used to promote a new single by ASAP Rocky. After his death, artists used the Twitter page to express condolences and to praise the successful mogul. Among those posting were stars Azealia Banks, The Weeknd and Drake.
The label with which Yams and Rocky worked, RCA, released a statement regarding the death of Yams, saying that his “vision, humor and dedication” would long be remembered. It is not yet known if Yams left behind any survivors.
By Jennifer Pfalz