The Vermont Cynic

Rapper rests in peace

Jon Zinter

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The hip-hop community was shocked and saddened at the sudden passing of Steven Rodriguez, 26, also known as A$AP Yams. He died Jan. 18.

Rodriguez was the founder and mastermind behind A$AP Mob.

He was a hip-hop encyclopedia. His vast knowledge of the genre allowed him to mold several successful rappers, most notably A$AP Rocky.

The majority of his younger years were spent consuming hip-hop in any way he could.

His collection, much of which was stored in his memory, ranged in styles coming from all over the country.

Rodriguez is the one who brought gold teeth and Houston-style production to New York City.

He helped bring about a new wave of hip-hop through the rappers he managed, both with A$AP and his own label, Yamborghini Records.

The short, stocky man with a birthmarked face and heavily-tattooed arms became a familiar image in Rocky’s acclaimed music videos, but that’s about as flashy as Rodriguez got.

He preferred to excercise his power from behind the scenes and let his stars shine.

Rodriguez also managed rappers such as Vince Staples and A$AP Ferg. The variety of styles his clients show reflects his tremendous knowledge of hip-hop culture.

The cause of his death has yet to be announced, but exactly how Rodriguez passed has little to do with who he was and his legacy.

He may not have a famous album himself, but he played a major role in the creation and promotion of several others.

Rodriguez’s Tumblr account is where Rocky’s “Purple Swag” video debuted, and he all but handpicked each song on both of Rocky’s major projects to date.

He didn’t write Rocky’s lyrics for him, but he got producers Clams Casino and SpaceGhostPurrp involved. And when Rodriguez posted the “Purple Swag” video, he made the kind of hip-hop history he spent his childhood studying.

His influence doesn’t end when he does. Rocky’s yet to be released album is a production collaboration between Rodriguez and acclaimed producer Danger Mouse.

The force Rodriguez exerts on hip-hop isn’t confined to the music he physically helped make.

Every hip-hop achievement to come after him will be influenced by the music A$AP Yams helped to create and promote.

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Rapper rests in peace