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Converse X Carhartt WIP, modelled by A$AP NastCourtesy of Converse X Carhartt WIP

A$AP Nast on fashion, teamwork & doing it for yourself

The rapper and A$AP Mob member discusses the relationship between music and style for Converse and Carhartt WIP’s new collaboration

“I’m just really fucking out here,” A$AP Nast says over the phone from Los Angeles calmly, “that’s how I’d describe myself.” Nast is one of the core members of Harlem’s A$AP Mob, a crew comprised of rappers, producers, video directors, fashion designers and various other creatives that formed at the back end of the 00s. Alongside his cousin, A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg and the late A$AP Yams amongst others, Nast has helped transform the US rap landscape, flourishing in creative spaces that had never existed for rappers before. Their collective attitudes to style and fashion in particular have watered down the bravado and hyper-masculinity often associated with rap, bringing with it a new world of opportunities and possibilities – why can’t rappers sit front row at Paris Fashion Week?

As a solo musician, Nast’s breakthrough single, “Trillmatic”, landed in 2013 and featured legendary Wu-Tang rapper Method Man, although much of his work since has been as a part of A$AP Mob or as a featured artist. And in a nod to the growing influence of grime artists in the States, he also joined forces with Skepta and D Double E on viral hit, “Ladies Hit Squad” in 2016.

Outside his work in music, Nast’s vested and passionate interest in fashion is well documented – he admits to have done “more fashion than music” recently – and credits A$AP Mob’s own trailblazing, zero-fucks-given outlook as playing a key role in their global rise to the top: “You kinda have to have the full package to make it now,” he explains. “People don’t wanna listen to rappers who don’t have good style.”

This attitude is perhaps why he’s such a natural fit for Converse and Carhartt WIP’s new collaboration, which sees the release of three new Chuck Taylor All Star 70 sneaker designs created with Carhartt WIP fabrics. It’s one he’s particularly enthused by, given his affection for both brands. “They’re two original and OG brands”, Nast explains, “and you know they ain’t going anywhere.”

Ahead of the launch, we caught up with Nast to discuss the relationship between music and fashion, A$AP Mob spearheading a new generation of rappers and the joys of living for today.

How would you describe your journey so far as part of A$AP Mob?

A$AP Nast: Honestly, I would describe it as a rollercoaster – up and down mostly, but also smooth sometimes. It can be very crazy, at times overwhelming, but it’s all for the best.

What would you say makes you stand out individually as artists? How are you different from the others?

A$AP Nast: I have my own taste. We all think differently but we all think the same at the same time. We all came in this together, we share similar creative ideas but other than that we’re totally different. I wouldn’t compare myself to anyone else in the world.

What is the best thing about working together as part of a tight-knit crew?

A$AP Nast: Teamwork makes the dream work. I can’t say it’s impossible on your own but it’s always easier to achieve when you are part of a collective and you come up with people. To share ideas and have support from those around you is crucial.

“You kinda have to have the full package to make it now, people don’t wanna listen to rappers who don’t have good style” – A$AP Nast

How do you go about sourcing inspiration for your own music?

A$AP Nast: Just living, every day. Sometimes it might be the same thing, but for the most part, when I wake up the world is a different place. I take in everything around me and put that into my music. There’s nothing greater than just living – tomorrow is promised to no one so waking up is a great thing, if not the greatest thing.

How would you describe yourself as a rapper? Do you see yourself in a certain light?

A$AP Nast: Honestly, I’m just really fucking out here. That’s how I’d describe myself, out here. What I mean by that, is that I’m out here in the world and I know I gotta do something.

How would you describe your own sense of style?

A$AP Nast: It’s just mine – I do what I do, I don’t know how I do it.

Is it fair to say that as rappers, the new generation of talent coming through – yourself, the rest of A$AP Mob, Lil Yachty etc – share in a different ethos than the rappers who came before? If so, what do you think makes you different?

A$AP Nast: I think we’ve been exposed to more platforms. Back in the day, people had to crowd one platform to make it, but now there’s so much going on today and people can look everywhere for inspiration. The rappers of the past weren’t exposed to all of that. It makes it much easier for us to do what we do. I’m a free mind in the world.

How do you describe the relationship between music and fashion more generally?

A$AP Nast: Honestly, in my eyes, music is fashion and fashion is music. In the now that we’re living in, you kinda have to have the full package. If you’re a rapper, you have to have an image – people don’t wanna listen people who don’t have good style. If you have good taste and you’re making music, it draws people to you. People are thinking, ‘Wow who’s this guy making cool music and what, he’s into art too?’ – you have to do it all. Doing everything is kinda essential. 

“Honestly, in my eyes, music is fashion and fashion is music” – A$AP Nast

 How do you feel about both Converse & Carhartt WIP and moreover, about them joining forces?

A$AP Nast: Honestly, they’re two iconic and OG original brands. Remember putting on your first pair of Converse or your first Carhartt jacket and thinking, ‘This is sick, it’s so well made’? When I die, I know that they’re still gonna be here. When I buy things myself, I buy things that are gonna last. People work in Carhartt gear for a lifetime, you know what I’m saying? They ain’t going anywhere.

How much do you enjoy your work in fashion? What do you enjoy most about being involved?

A$AP Nast: I just try to love what I love. I’m literally doing this for myself. If no one cared about what I was doing, I’d still be doing the same thing you know? I’m not really gonna be out here like that, I’m just enjoying living. I’ve probably done more fashion than music recently. Like today, I might try on like 30 outfits before I go outside. Not because I care about what people think, I just love clothing and materials and there’s nothing greater than trying on a new shoe or putting new outfits together.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2017, what can we expect from you from a musical standpoint?

A$AP Nast: A little bit of everything. I’m working with lots of different people. Expect some very cool stuff.

Converse x Carhartt WIP is in stores June 1