A$AP Rocky Covers GQ’s Body Issue; Discusses Self Discovery, Musical Experimentation, and Finding “The One” – The Hype Magazine
In a new GQ cover story by senior associate editor Sam Hine, rapper and fashion designer A$AP Rocky opens up for the first time about his controversial stint in a Swedish jail in 2019. Since then, rap’s foremost fashion darling says he’s been on a freewheeling journey of self-discovery, musical experimentation, and—alongside a certain megawatt pop-icon girlfriend—love.
In July 2019, Rocky was held in pretrial detention on an assault charge stemming from a street fight in Stockholm with a few young men who had been following and harassing him and his crew. For a month, Rocky says he was confined to a single-person cell for 23 and a half hours a day. At night, Rocky kept the TV on; the background noise of Swedish-language news helped lull him to sleep. But about a week before he expected to get out, a sound on the TV jolted Rocky awake.
“Even though it was in Swedish, I heard ‘President Donald Trump’ and ‘A$AP Rocky,’ and I woke up out of my sleep,” he recalls. “I was like, ‘Oh, f*ck!’
The news was reporting that Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Kanye West about Rocky’s incarceration and that he would be calling the Swedish prime minister about the situation. The following day, the president tweeted that he would personally vouch for Rocky’s bail.
In the ensuing weeks, allies of Trump started complaining that Rocky didn’t deliver a public statement of gratitude. Despite his perceived silence, and his fears that he’d be punished due to Trump’s ham-fisted Twitter diplomacy, Rocky was indeed grateful. He told the President as much on a private phone call. “I was mad thankful that he did that, because he didn’t have to!” Rocky says of Trump. The support he received from the president and others, he says, “made me happy while being in there, because when you in jail, you feel like nobody cares. You can get lost, and you feel soulless. Like, you feel low, bro.”
Rocky spent his lockdown year getting to know himself. “I’ve been experimenting in every field,” he says over chamomile tea with honey. “I’ve been experimenting with style, with rhythm, with sonics, film, food, health, love, life—for real.”
He discovered that he’s changing: “I’m converted to the change. New-world shit.” After a stint with sobriety in 2019, last year Rocky returned to smoking copious amounts of kush and dropping LSD, which aided this journey of mind expansion and self-discovery. “I’m stoned as f*ck,” he adds with a sheepish grin.
In his love life, though, the change Rocky has experienced is drastic. It’s change in the same way that a Mega Millions lottery winner experiences change. Because A$AP Rocky is dating Rihanna. “The love of my life,” he calls her. “My lady.”
What’s it like for Rocky to be in a relationship? “So much better when you got the One,” he replies without hesitation. “She amounts to probably, like, a million of the other ones.” Rocky is among our culture’s most unabashed ladies’ men, but he says he’s comfortable embracing monogamy: “I think when you know, you know. She’s the One.”
Last summer, Rocky and Rihanna went on a tour of sorts together. They commandeered a massive tour bus and road tripped from L.A. to NYC, swinging south through Texas and stopping in Memphis and a half dozen other cities along the way. They listened to the Stones, the Grateful Dead, and Curtis Mayfield. They stopped in a few national parks. Rocky dropped acid and made his own clothes, beatnik-style—sewing, patching, and tie-dyeing shirts and pants on the bus.
“Being able to drive and do a tour without feeling like it was an occupation or an obligated job agreement, I feel like that experience is like none other,” Rocky recalls. “I never experienced nothing like it.”
True to form as one of music’s most advanced fashion tastemakers, Rocky designed a collection on spec for buzzy Parisian designer Marine Serre, while he was sitting in jail. He got a pen and paper, which he used to sketch out the idea of a dress that looks imported from a dystopian future: Picture a vintage T-shirt, stretched and elongated, then finished with a kilt-like hem and a Jedi master hood. When Rocky got out, he flew home to L.A., and then soon after, jetted to Paris to have coffee with Serre so he could propose turning his jailhouse dream of a collaboration into a reality.
“I was not expecting anything,” says Serre of their meeting, but the 29-year-old designer was immediately struck by Rocky’s familiarity with garment construction. “It was quite natural and easy, and clearly not all collaborations are like that today.”
A few nights after his GQ interview, Rocky joined Rihanna at West Hollywood celebrity hang Delilah, his first trip to a club since before the pandemic started. Well after the rest of L.A. had gone to sleep, he and Rihanna left separately but got in the same car. On a Zoom call a few days later, GQ asked Rocky about the outfit he wore that night—a black leather trucker jacket, black Rick Owens boots, and black leather pants from his Marine Serre collaboration. A fit that originated during one of his bleakest moments, was now worn during one of his most triumphant.
“Honestly,” he says, “I never thought that things that I imagined while I was in jail would come true. And everything that I envisioned in prison came to fruition. ’Cause I guess I manifested it. And I prayed! I really wanted to bless that situation and move on from it in a positive way. I was praying to stay strong, and God got me through shit like it was nothing! That shit was nothing.”
*Read “A$AP Rocky Is the Prettiest Man Alive ” by Sam Hine on GQ.com and in GQ’s Body issue, on newsstands June 1.