Harlem’s own A$AP Yams’s gritty, unique, dauntless swag and fearless thought process was way, way ahead of his time. At a time when diehard New Yorkers longed for yesteryear’s Rotten Apple rap that Nas, Jay Z, Wu-Tang Clan and the late Notorious B.I.G. (among others) ruled hip-hop culture with during the ’90s, the innovative Yams had the foresight to see that it was time for NYC hip-hop to surf on a new wave.
Enter Yams’s crew of MCs, beatmakers, designers and overall fans of the culture, A$AP Mob. (A$AP for “always strive and prosper.”) Led by gritty loverboy A$AP Rocky and an energetic A$AP Ferg, these MCs helped usher New York rap back into the spotlight. Thanks to their taste of slowed and dragged beats (think Houston screw), mixed with midwest flows (think Bone Thugs-n-Harmony) and their cocksure persona and brave New York hearts, the Mob are now some of the leaders of the new school.
But it wasn’t just the Mob that gave life to New York City hip-hop. At a time when the A$AP crew was inching their way out of the Harlem basement to sit on the Billboard charts, other newbie MCs like coke boy French Montana, Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson were also making names for themselves.
And on the recent one-year anniversary of Yams’s death (a.k.a. #YamsDay), Rocky and the Mob, Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era fam, Action Bronson, Flatbush Zombies and other up-and-coming MCs gathered at Manhattan’s Terminal 5 for the #YamsDay concert to pay homage to their former fearless leader’s innovative thought process.
DJs A-Trak, Statik Selektah and Cannon kept the racially mixed crowd entertained until about opening acts Action Bronson, Flatbush Zomebies, Joey Bada$$ and Philly newcomer Lil Uzi Vert appeared to hold down the warm-up.
Based on the concertgoers’ reaction, it seems as if Joey Bad$$’s aggressive set list set the tone of recollecting hip-hop’s lost gods. Rocking a black hoodie, black jeans and red-and-black checkered flannel, the Pro Era rep took some time to recognize his deceased comrade, Capital Steez. Joey rolled through crowd favorites “Christ Conscious,” “Big Dusty” and ”No. 99” before turning the mic over to his Pro Era comrades Kirk Knight and Nyck Caution to flex for the crowd.
But it was no secret who the concertgoers were there to see. But before the Mob took the stage, Momma Yams graced the stage to earsplitting applause as she thanked fans for showing support and celebrating the legacy of her son. Before making her exit, she reminded the packed Terminal 5 to always strive and prosper, even hitting the dab to a round of laughter and cheers, providing the perfect LOL moment.
Then, with the lit crowd on max, the Mob (with a visibly drunk A$AP Rocky) went into their new Yams tribute track, “Lamborghini High.” Despite the song’s recent release, concertgoers mouthed every word, some with their eyes closed. It was as if everyone was reminding themselves to follow their hearts, and stay true to themselves—which is what Yams stood for.
The Mob then rolled through “Hella Hoes,” followed by Ferg’s “Work,” for which he brought out French Montana, and his recent release “New Level.” A plaited up Rocky closed out the night with his charged up “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2)” and a “1 Train.”
With pictures of Yams flashing on the overhead projector, and seeing how far the Mob has come since Rocky’s 2011 street anthem “Peso,” one couldn’t help but notice what Yams stood for, and what he wants everyone to remember and live by: just trust that your voice is powerful enough to contribute to the culture, and always strive and prosper.
R.I.P. A$AP Yams.