A$AP Rocky, whose trippy At.Long.Last.A$AP ranks No. 9 on Billboard’s list of 10 Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2015, describes himself as “a student of life.” And recently, the 27-year-old rapper transformed from pupil into professor for a day.
The Samsung LEVEL Music Lab brought Rocky to a University of Las Vegas lecture hall to teach college students about the music industry, his life and his creative process.
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“Most of all, I wanted people to take away an experience with a genuine artist,” he tells Billboard following his visit to the campus in mid-December. “I wanted them to know no matter what you have to be continue to be yourself. Whoever you are be you and be genuine to you. Not a lot of people choose to do that.”
A$AP Rocky is the ongoing music lab’s second mentor, following The Chainsmokers. The “Roses” duo bestowed their knowledge earlier this year to University of Kansas students.
For A$AP Rocky, his campus talk comes just one month before he’s slated to host a tribute concert honoring his late mentor and A$AP Mob co-founder Steven “A$AP Yams” Rodriguez on Jan. 18, 2016, in New York City.
A$AP Yams, who died of an accidental drug overdose in January, was just one of the people who helped groom the A$AP Rocky that fans know today. “My dad played a big part of my wisdom growing up” he says. “I learned a lot from my environment and my surroundings. I am a student of life. I think life is about learning lessons.”
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The music lab began with a Q&A moderated by Rory Kramer, the videographer behind Justin Bieber’s “I’ll Show You” and “What Do You Mean? (Acoustic),” The Chainsmokers’ “Roses” as well as Tori Kelly’s “Should’ve Been Us.” The experience continued, only for select students, with one-on-one sessions fittingly dubbed “Office Hours,” which you can watch in this exclusive video recapping the campus visit.
“I felt it was important to give the [students] more of a one-on-one insight of what the industry is like — something that can be honest and genuine but still describe what would become if they pursue music careers,” A$AP Rocky noted. “It was really fun — we were walking around the campus — there was really good energy out there. What I liked most about the experience was the cool cameras going around and us riding around on the golf carts.”
Since visiting UNLV, A$AP Rocky has earned a Grammy nomination for Best Music Video for his psychedelic “LSD” video alongside Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” Kendrick Lamar‘s “Alright,” The Dead Weather‘s “I Feel Love” and Pharrell Williams‘ “Freedom.”
Although A$AP Rocky won’t find out the winner of the Best Music Video category until Grammy show day — Feb. 15; CBS will air the ceremony — he has plenty of projects to keep him busy until the results are revealed.
“I’m working on a few films, two music projects at the moment,a couple of fashion lines and a capsule collection,” he says. His level of ambition is something he knows UNLV students took away from his visit “because [the music lab] created an experience that allowed aspiring people to interact with successful people, with the same aspirations and desires and ambitions.”