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A$AP Yams, the founding force and mastermind behind New York City’s A$AP Mob has died. Members of the A$AP Mob have confirmed Yams death on social media, although no further details are available about his passing. He was 26.
Born Steven Rodriguez, Yams played a pivotal role in the foundation of the New York hip-hop crew A$AP Mob, that helped facilitate the rise of both A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg. Perhaps best known for his extensively updated and curated Tumblr page, Yams also managed to bring his ideas about fashion, music and tastemaking into the real world.
When he was a teenager, Yams interned with Harlem’s Diplomat Records and began managing local producers and selling mixtapes. At only 17, Yams founded A$AP Mob in 2007 with A$AP Bari and A$AP Illz. By 2010 his Tumblr had picked up a following, and a year later A$AP Rocky’s pair of songs “Purple Swag” and “Peso” led to his major label deal and mainstream recognition for the crew.
When A$AP Rocky’s Long.Live.A$AP debuted at No. 1 on the charts in 2013, it was clear that A$AP Mob had arrived. The New York Times profiled him around this same time, drawing comparisons between Yams and legendary hip-hop moguls like Puff Daddy, Damon Dash, and Irv Gotti. In the profile, Rocky calls Yams “the mastermind behind the scenes,” and Yams dubs himself as the Yoda to Rocky’s Skywalker.
In the profile, Rocky also expands on Yams’ extensive knowledge about the national hip-hop scene, and how incorporating all of those styles into the A$AP sound helped the crew redefine the sound of New York.
“Yams is the hip-hop encyclopedia, Rocky told the Times. “He’s no joke. That’s one person I can’t front on when it comes to music.”
A$AP Mob members Rocky, Ferg, A$AP Nast are all slated to put out projects this year, no word yet on how this unexpected death will effect those releases. Members from the ASAP Mob and the larger hip-hop community have begun to share their grief and condolences: