(AllHipHop Features) Every year BET Awards weekend essentially serves as a large family reunion for the Black stars of music, television, movies, and sports. A central part of the 4-day extravaganza is the comedy and entertainment festival known as the BET Experience.
Fans in the Los Angeles area will get to take part in seminars, celebrity appearances, and performances from popular rappers. On June 25, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Fetty Wap, Tory Lanez, Ty Dolla $ign, and Kodak Black are scheduled to run through their hits at the Staples Center.
The Saturday line-up for the BET Experience will also include a set by A$AP Ferg. This will be the first time the Harlem native shows his skills on his own at the annual L.A. event.
[ALSO READ: Damon Dash, Birdman, Jermaine Dupri & Snoop Dogg Tapped As Presenters For 2016 BET Awards]
“I’m looking forward to the whole experience, just being there and running into old friends. I’m looking forward to hitting the stage,” Ferg tells AllHipHop.com. “I got the chance to do BET Experience one year with [A$AP] Rocky. This year I’m doing it myself, so it should be fun.”
Besides his inaugural solo show at the BET Experience, A$AP Ferg has a lot to celebrate in 2016. His latest studio album Always Strive And Prosper spawned the gym-ready single “New Level” featuring Future, debuted at number 8 on the Billboard 200, and became one of the best reviewed rap releases of the year so far.
The product of Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights is not done. A video for the Migos-assisted “Back Hurt” is already in the can, and Ferg’s “World Is Mine” with Big Sean has visuals on the way as well.
Then there is the long-awaited Cozy Tapes - the A$AP Mob musical effort inspired by the crew’s late de facto leader A$AP Yams. A$AP Rocky previously revealed fellow East Coast acts like Action Bronson, Pro Era, Flatbush Zombies, and Tanboys have been recruited for the collection.
While Ferg would not confirm the guests for Cozy Tapes, he has guaranteed the entire Mob will be present. He also suggests A$AP devotees should be on the look out for the project to arrive before the seasons change again.
“We just shot the album cover art. The music is pretty much done. It’s in the process of being mixed,” states Ferg. “I don’t have a date, but it should be out real soon.”
In the meantime, Ferg followers can continue to vibe out to Always Strive And Prosper or celebrate his hometown by getting lit to his contribution to “Harlem” by Jim Jones.
Ferg being tapped for the record off Jimmy's The Kitchen album came two years after the Dipset member was quoted acknowledging the A$AP Mob while at the same time making it clear he was not co-signing any comparisons of the two camps.
“I’m not trying to disrespect them - A$AP Mob is doing it, they got their numbers and they’re doing what they like to do - but they’re nothing like the Diplomats,” Jones said in a 2014 XXL article. “They didn’t come up hanging and banging and hustling and really touching the pavement, ya dig? It’s a big difference. We don’t wear kilts and we don’t wear tight sweatpants and funny sneakers. That’s not our style.”
A$AP Yams fired back during a Tumblr Q&A. He called out Jones for "throwing shade." In addition to affirming a Dipset and A$AP Mob collab would not happen anytime soon, Yams wrote, "I got love and respect for those who paved the way but don't go online and say we not some street n-ggas."
Ferg insists he and Jones have always been on good terms. In fact, the RCA recording artist claims he was not even aware of Capo’s comments about his team.
“I always had a good rapport with Jim. Even before I was rapping, we was doing business together,” explains Ferg. “He was actually trying to help me out with the belt business. I never had no problem with him, and I never heard him saying anything about the A$AP Mob.”
Their camaraderie seems to be genuine, considering the two Harlemites jelled so well together that the studio session also produced the track "Finesse." The North meets South posse cut has verses from Brooklyn’s Desiigner and Atlanta’s Rich Homie Quan too.
“Mad artists just started popping up out of nowhere. Desiigner came from out of nowhere. Then Rich Homie Quan came upstairs. We all just started doing music together,” recalls Ferg about the night “Harlem” and “Finesse” were forged.
Could the world see additional Dipset and A$AP Mob musical alliances? Ferg answers, “Hell yeah! They’re from Harlem. Anybody from Harlem!”
That declaration of Uptown unity could include a buzzing Nas protégé from East Harlem. Mass Appeal signee Dave East secured Esco, Pusha T, Styles P, Jadakiss, and Mack Wilds for his breakout mixtape Hate Me Now, and an East/A$AP collaboration is a possibility.
“I f-ck with Dave East,” says Ferg. “I don’t know too much of his music besides the songs I hear on the radio, but he can rap. I want to support anybody that’s coming out of Harlem.”
As Ferg looks to help the rising talent from his section of NYC succeed, he is still absorbing gems from some of Hip Hop’s greats. The list of legends Ferg has had the chance to politick with consists of names such as Puff Daddy, Missy Elliott, Timbaland, and Pharrell Williams.
A certain 21-time Grammy winning rapper-turned-mogul is another industry veteran that has provided a blueprint for Ferg’s approach to following his artistic passion. “Jay Z told me he still loves [rapping]. I could see that he loves it, therefore he’s very successful with it,” says Ferg. “So I feel like as long as I’m still loving it and I keep loving the game, I’ll be successful with it as well.”Music is just one component of the A$AP Ferg brand. The 27-year-old New Yorker born Darold Ferguson, Jr. was building his entrepreneurial empire well before he was one of the top-tier rhymers of the 2010’s. Ferg’s father owned a Harlem boutique, furthermore the elder Ferguson created shirts and logos for Bad Boy Records, Teddy Riley, Heavy D, Bell Biv DeVoe, and others.
Darold Jr. carried on the family tradition by launching his own Devoni Clothing in 2005. A decade later Ferg aligned with Adidas for the “Trap Lord x Adi-Ease” collection. Plus, the one-time art school student has an A GOLD E denim jeans line.
Fashion has been kind to A$AP Ferg, and he presses on in the field. However, the "Work" spitter is still centralizing his attention on the art form that allowed him to be a must catch attendee on the BET Awards red carpet.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on Trap Lord and Ferg Apparel merchandise. That’s what I’m going to be focusing on for the rest of the year. And just really focusing on this music. I feel like that’s where it’s at,” asserts Ferg. “Every designer wants to be a rapper. Every athlete wants to be a rapper. So I guess rap is the superior art, so I’m focusing on that.”
A$AP Ferg will be performing at the BET Experience 2016 on Saturday, June 25 at The Staples Center in Los Angeles. To purchase tickets visit bet.com.