You’d be hard-pressed to meet a more talented dude than Darold Ferguson. Growing up in Harlem, Ferguson always had a keen eye, appreciation for art (he names Basquiat, Francis Bacon, and Picasso as his favorites), and an appetite for fashion. His father owned a Harlem boutique and printed shirts and logos for record labels including Bad Boy and industry legends like Teddy Riley, Heavy D, and Bell Biv DeVoe. Growing up around both music and fashion, Darold initially pursued the latter.
Launching Devoni Clothing in 2005, he designed and distributed high-end belts worn by the likes of Chris Brown, Swizz Beatz, and Diggy Simmons. Eventually, Ferguson got into music, linking up with hip-hop collective A$AP Mob and adopting the moniker A$AP Ferg in 2009.
Four years later, Ferg released his debut album Trap Lord featuring an impressive roster of talent from the likes of Schoolboy Q, French Montana, Trinidad James, and A$AP Rocky. The EP was both critically and commercially embraced, earning the respected cosigns from Complex, Fader, and Rolling Stone.
Recently, Ferg linked up with adidas Originals for a capsule collection, aptly named “Traplord.” The collection’s sneaker, Traplord x Adi-Ease, comes in a cream or black run, and features gold hardware with nickname “Hood Pope” sketched on the heel, with the rest of the crew’s tags covering adidas’ signature stripes. The entire collection serve as a tribute to the late A$AP Yams, the Mob’s founder, who passed in January 2015.
You’re insanely creative throughout multiple mediums. What’s your first instinct—words or visuals?
I think I visualize things first. That’s why it’s so easy for me to create the videos cause the videos are already made in my mind before I even make the songs.
You’ve dedicated the Traplord x adi-Ease collection to A$AP Yams. Can you talk a bit about the painting featured on the shirt? Did you feel a lot of pressure to capture his essence, or did it just flow?
Oh, that just flowed. I had two canvases to work with and I was panicking, like “Man, it’s blank!” and I’d seen kids making so many great Yams portraits and I was like “Damn, it might not be as cool as these kids cause they killin’ it, but like I don’t know, man, as long as I do my best and I like it, it’s gonna be dope,” and it actually came out really good.
How long did it take you?
It actually took me probably about one full day. I started out on one canvas and I was just like, “Man, I can’t put this out, I’m not doing this.” The next day, I just kept looking at his picture and thought deeply about who he was, and then it just kinda flowed. It was almost like it wasn’t even me, I promise you, I didn’t even draw it or nothing—I just went straight on the canvas.
In the painting, there’s a beam of light coming out of Yam’s eyes. What’s that symbolize?
Yams had a vision of putting together a collective of great artists, which he did. So that was the vision comin’ from his eyes. The blueprint at the bottom was his blueprint for A$AP (Mob)—what he thought we should do. The rigid city in the background is Harlem NY, where we come from— the jungle, and we made it out. (Yams) is sitting at the table, building a world. To change the world—to change the world you must change yourself, so that’s what I thought about when making the painting.
You’ve been in the studio with everyone from Lauryn Hill and Bones Thugs-in-Harmony, to Missy and Timbaland. Were you star struck by anyone?
I be tryin to be starstruck, I leave myself open to it, but I don’t. Now being an artist, I just look at everyone as a human being, but I’m very appreciative of artists that I work work.
I was in studio with Pharrell for two days straight. The first day I was like, damn, I’ve got another day with him? That’s whats up. He changed my life when it comes down to accepting who I was as a person, recognizing that I was different, and that it was okay to be different. He made different cool.
Being in the studio with Missy it was the same thing. She was actually looking up to my music and wanted me to continue to play my album, so I was like, Damn, these iconic people are really looking at my music like gold and telling me like, “Yo you got it.”
Did you vibe with anyone instantly?
I vibed with Swizz Beatz the most, cause like me and Swizz wasn’t even recording some of the days. Like, we was just painting some days in the studio. We brought like canvas and Trap Lord T-shirts and did custom painting and just had fun. I think that was part of the process as well—like understanding each other and just having fun with it.
In interviews, you’ve defined being a Trap Lord as someone who consistently struggles to do better. You’ve had a crazy couple years, how does your relationship to struggle change as you become more successful?
I still feel a struggle because, in some ways, I still feel al little marginalized. Like, I’m still kinda stuck in this box and I see a lot of artists getting stuck in this box. There’s a lot of artists who are stuck in the same level and it’s hard to jump through the ceiling and fly. And the game will do that to you because you gotta do a lot of finessing.
I thank God that I have a great personality and charisma that kind of gravities people to me, cause I didn’t even drop an album in two years and I got remarkable features—but I wouldn’t expect any less—cause I think I’m a great artist. But still— it’s tough. I feel like thats a battle of constantly wanting to be great, getting the right perception, and having people see that I’m really the one making these moves happen. I’m a young entrepreneuer and getting the credit for that. That’s the tough part.