ASAP NAST

“Back in New York, I used to drink Kool Aid out of jars like this,” said ASAP Nast as he took a sip of water before inspecting the rack of clothing in front of him. His confident East Coast swagger is met with a laid-back sensibility akin to that of California where he currently resides. Like his cousin Rocky and the ASAP Mob, Nast’s pursuits straddles the worlds of music and fashion. They’ve helped reshape hip-hop’s landscape into a hybridized fashion-savvy rap genre where brand names have become the new lingo.

As a core member of the Mob, Nast’s unapologetic steeze pulls inspiration from the runway to mid-century cinema. His affinity for vintage designs and musical subcultures is evident in a body of work that consists of a retro-inspired collaboration with Converse to a feature on UK grime kingpin Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa.’

At this time, his zero-fucks-given attitude has created a job description for the hip-hop star that sits somewhere between an anarchist and a model. Nast walked OFF-WHITE’s Fall/Winter 2016 show in his own clothes, while in other arenas, he’s fronted the campaigns to indie imprints Brain Dead and Rokit, and seen draped in cut & sew layers from John Elliott. While his legion of fans hang onto every word he Tweets, Nast is quick to call out copycats. “Now I noticed a couple niggas got my swag, swag. They done stole my swag, swag,” he raps in “Ladies Hit Squad,” a nod to the likes of Supreme and Travis Scott who he’s said have been “swagger jacking.”

The New York rapper’s brazen disposition injects a nostalgic dose of punk into the otherwise laminated profiles endorsed by the industry. With that said, we were keen to see how Nast would style himself. We took to his home in Beverly Hills to shoot an editorial featuring pieces from Acne, COMME des GARCONS, JW Anderson, visvim and Junya Watanabe MAN.

On a sunny afternoon in LA, we chopped it up with ASAP Nast to learn more about his favorite multi-brand stores and why he’s in no rush to move back to New York.

You moved from New York to LA a few years ago. How often do you go back to New York?

Not all that often. I go to New York because I have to be there for work but I love LA. I like the pace in here and that’s the reason why I’m still here. What I get in LA, I can’t get from New York. So I’m here making the most of that.

What’s the main difference?

New York’s such a fast pace city. When you’re an artist and you’re trying to think, there’s so many distractions. Sometimes you need space, but in New York, I can’t go a block without seeing someone getting tied up on some other shit.

you walk down the fucking block to try and get a sandwich and you see 30 people you know and they’re like ‘let’s link up and party.’

Isn’t that good though?

Nah! Not when you’re tryna work and you’re focused, and you just got enough time to grab a bite. I need to use the rest of my mental power to be creative, not in someone’s house doing some extra shit! In LA, you can get away from all the noise. I can go for days without seeing anyone if I don’t want to. I can always catch a five hour flight to New York if I want so it’s cool.

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Growing up in New York, what were some of your favorite multi-brand stores?

I used to spend racks in Union New York. That was my favorite shop, just skip school or go after school and shop Billionaire Boys Club, etc. There was Recon – which then became Nort/Recon – DQM, there were so many. We would hit up Clientele for sneakers. Flight Club as well, we used to buy all the North Face and Ralph ‘Lo shit from there. There was a bunch of shit poppin’ off then.

Nowadays, people find shopping online more convenient, but we see you check into Union Los Angeles regularly.

I just got into the knack of shopping online, I used to hate it because I like to feel the item and fabric before I’m buying. If I can’t do that, it kind of defeats the purpose of actually liking the product/design enough to buy it. For more simple things, I buy online but it’s a different shopping experience.

How would you describe your style?

Personal. If I like the clothes and it works for me then I’m be wearing it.

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Does your style differ day-to-day?

Usually, it’s normally based on how I feel when I wake up or what movie I watched the night before.

You take cues from film?

Yeah, I take style cues from different decades in film, usually from the ‘70s. Different movies inspired my Converse collaboration.

Following your Converse collaboration, are there any forthcoming projects in the pipeline?

If I tell you, it’ll defeat the purpose of it being a surprise. It’ll alleviate the shock aspect. We’ll all know it was coming.

Is that a bad thing?

In the music and fashion industry, there’s no mystique anymore, everyone’s following all these rules.’ Gosha just did a collaboration with Carhartt which is exciting but it’s not like we didn’t know that was going to happen. The industry is lacking mysteriousness. People talking about what they’re going to do, followed by previews, launch events, then the thing comes out and it’s like, cool, what’s next? Like Yikes, y’know? We knew it was coming, so when the product drops, there’s not much else to look forward to. Whereas if you just release something with no notice, then people will be like ‘shit there’s no way we were expecting this.’ Music as well. I’d rather just hit you with it.

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A lot of kids keep tabs on your dress sense, whether that’s via Instagram or fashion campaigns you’ve been in. What takeaway do you want people to have?

See what you want to see. I try and be myself and let them see that you can just do you and not give a fuck about what’s trending. Nowadays, these kids are so caught up. I’m not out here trying to school you, I’m just tryna show you how to be yourself. Maybe that’ll help. I can easily go jump in and follow the trends like ‘oh Gucci’s lit, let me jump on the Gucci wave.’ But nah, I just wear what fits me best. There’s so much Gucci I like, but it’s not for me. Similarly, I like Prada, but I’m not going to wear everything. There’s a difference between appreciating a brand and knowing whether it works for you.

So authenticity is important. What else?

Yeah, and origins. Maybe kids will go back to figure out the origins of half the shit they’re wearing and where it comes from later, but for now, you got to be yourself first. It’s not about what’s trendy, it’s about what fits you.

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Words by Arthur Bray

Photos by Sam Massey

Styling by ASAP NAST

Asap Nast styled himself in Ance Studios, Junya, Visvim, Comme des Garcon, and JW Anderson. All items are now available at Union Los Angeles in store and online here. PEACE.