In 2016, he appeared on the cover of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 issue alongside the likes of YouTube maven Michelle Phan, startup entrepreneur Aaron Levie, snowboarder Shaun White and mobile payments mogul John Collison, but I still couldn’t grasp how one of my favourite rappers makes their money. In what was reportedly one of the biggest hip-hop signings since Drake’s reported $2 million advance for joining Young Money in 2009, Rakim Mayers, profoundly known as A$AP Rocky was signed by Polo Grounds Music/RCA Records for $3 million in 2011. Live.Love.A$ap was Rocky’s highly acclaimed mixtape, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in late January 2013. That year, he reportedly earned an estimated $5 million, mostly from live shows and an endorsement deal with Adidas. “Yeah, I did make a lot of money off touring this year. I did a headlining tour in Europe, a co-headlining tour with Wiz Khalifa and I opened up for Rihanna,” the Harlem native reflected.
A$AP is proving to be quite multifaceted entrepreneur with many business endeavors, which he estimates to be 30 companies under his AWGE umbrella, including his fashion collaborations and working with MTV as Creative Director of MTV Labs. AWGE is the rapper’s creative collective, which does everything from designing album artwork to managing stylists. According to the business mogul in the making, he started AWGE “to be able to curate and manage my own business.” Rocky, who was appointed as the Creative Director role for MTV Labs will exercise his creativity to create original content, experiment with new formats for MTV in his, backed by his agency AWGE. “A$AP Rocky is a unique Millennial artist whose influence as an innovator and disruptor spans music, film, art, and fashion,” Niels Schuurmans, EVP and Chief Creative Officer, Viacom Velocity, said in a press release. “MTV is a name we grew up with,” A$AP Rocky said. “Everyone knows them as innovators and champions of building artists’ careers. I’m honored to have this opportunity and can’t wait to show people what we have been working on.”
Besides his rapping and his apparent business skills, A$AP has also built a name for himself as a model, designer and fashion influencer, thanks to his irrefutable fashion sense. In addition to being a front row resident, the rapper also known as ‘Pretty Flacko’ has appeared in campaigns for Alexander Wang, DKNY and Ferragamo including countless editorials and magazine covers (that could rival on-again off-again girlfriend and supermodel Kendall Jenner), from Vogue and Interview to Dazed and i-D. In an expected move, Dior Homme released its 2016 ad campaign featuring A$AP Rocky as one of its new faces.
In early 2016, he collaborated with popular clothing brand, Guess, as GUE$$, with his follow up capsule collection entitled Guess Club, which launch on March 10th this year. “Growing up with an urban hip-hop background, Guess was part of that, in the Menace II Society films and in my household. It was my own twist on archival pieces.” Rocky told WWD. The campaign, directed by Rocky’s AWGE group is said to have been inspired by the carefree feelings of childhood.
Fashion’s favourite rapper is also the star of Mercedes-Benz’s dramatic commercial, which puts the spotlight on the murder of his older brother Ricky, and the rapper’s subsequent rise to stardom within the world of hip-hop. “Dreams can come at a price. But hard work can pay off. This is the true story about a boy named Rakim (A$AP Rocky) who blazed his own trail to the top with nothing but a dream beat,” says Mercedez-Benz in a press release.