Back in 2017, A$AP Rocky starred in a Mercedes-Benz campaign where he described coming up in Harlem, knowing that music was his destiny—a constant beat thumping in his chest. The tagline? “Grow up. Get a job.”
Suffice to say, Rocky’s done both of those things since then, and then some—and he’s got even more on deck. This week, he’s announcing a new collaboration between Mercedes and his creative agency, AWGE, on a gender-neutral collection of revamped streetwear and lifestyle pieces. This summer, he’ll be hitting the festival circuit once again. Oh, and he and his girlfriend Rihanna are expecting their first child. As Rocky tells me, speaking from New York on Tuesday, “Man, I couldn’t be more happier.”
For the capsule collab, Rocky and his team wanted to play on the cultural significance of Mercedes-Benz iconography in hip-hop and in New York fashion. Indeed, logomania was born in Harlem in the ’80s by way of Dapper Dan, the legendary designer who spun his signature luxury-label “knockups” out of his atelier on 125th Street, in turn originating fashion’s monogram obsession as we know it. Not to mention that Rocky, born Rakim Mayers, and his older sister, Erika B. Mayers, were named after the New York DJ/MC duo Eric B. & Rakim, beloved not only for their music but also for their prime hip-hop-golden-age uniforms of logoed-out Dapper Dan duds and icey Mercedes star logo chains. Growing up, “we would go to 125th Street or downtown, and you would always find bootleg Mercedes-Benz logos and whatnot,” Rocky says. “It correlates to my life in so many ways.”
In the collection, on-the-books Benz logos find their way onto oversized hoodies, a pair of 3M-reflective high-vis work pants, a basketball, even a camping chair. A camping chair? “I’m pretty much a modern day hippie,” he tells me. “I’m all about road trips—and you never know where you’re gonna be when you need to take a seat.” During the high-COVID summer of 2020, Rocky and Rihanna took a tour bus out on a road trip across America, stopping in national parks, tie-dying clothes, and listening to the Grateful Dead and Curtis Mayfield along the way. (The capsule also nods to Rocky’s beloved Houston, one of the stops on their road trip, where hip-hop and candy-paint car culture go hand in hand. In the campaign, washed in purples and teals, A$AP poses alongside a glossy, mint-chocolate-chip-green Mercedes-Benz F 200 Imagination.) Next up, he wants to drive across Europe—“not touring, just to, you know, camp, for lack of a better word. Somewhere like Budapest.”
There are also pieces that are an homage to Rocky’s previous Mercedes campaign—the black flight jacket he wore in the “Grow Up” spot gets revamped into a reversible bomber jacket that flips from black to blaze orange. In general, Rocky’s big into multifunctional clothing these days; when I ask what pieces he’s been gravitating towards, he mentions a pair of slacks that cuts away to peekaboo denim layered underneath, and a hybrid bomber-khaki-Members Only jacket that “looks like I’m wearing three jackets at once.” Speaking of outerwear, I mention the secondhand St. John Vianney High School soccer varsity jacket Rocky wore out a few months ago, which baffled the alumni network of the New Jersey Catholic school to the point where local sports reporter Daniel LoGiudice tracked down its original owner.
“My boy went to that school, too,” Rocky says, laughing. “I didn’t know that, that’s tight. It’s almost like that blanket piece,” referring to the massive ERL blanket-cape he wore to last fall’s Met Gala, which designer Eli Russell Linnetz fashioned from a calico patchwork quilt he’d sourced at a thrift store near Venice Beach. When Met red carpet photos hit the internet that week, a woman named Sarah realized the donated quilt was one made by her great-grandmother, sharing side-by-side photos on Instagram; later on, Linnetz photographed Sarah and her family wrapped in the quilt.
“I like when it’s just like a treasure hunt, right? It’s all about sourcing the originator or the creator. It takes it back to the old school analog days when you had to really search for information and there wasn’t Google,” he admits. “I really like fun. It’s mostly about having fun with pieces nowadays… I’m just doing what I want.” Maybe this is growing up.