In XXL's Spring 2021 issue, ASAP Ferg reflects on the making of his Always Strive and Prosper album five years later.
A$AP Ferg on Always Strive and Prosper. As Told To: Aleia Woods Editors Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now. A$AP Ferg had a specific mission with his 2016 album, Always Strive and Prosper. The undertaking was introspective and transparent. Known for making vibrant and energetic cuts, the Harlem native took a different approach with Always Strive and Prosper. He wanted to display his depth, growth and evolution as an artist while personifying the acronym of his rap collective A$AP Mob, which is part of the album title. In the process of making the LP, Ferg worked with artists hes revered like Missy Elliott and Chuck D of Public Enemy, allowing Ferg to intentionally and purposefully assemble an offering that represents the layers of himself that had not yet been revealed to the world fully. In honor of the albums fifth anniversary Ferg takes a look back at his opus. A$AP Ferg: I brought lyrics and stories about my family . So, I got a song called Psycho, which is my uncles name. I got a song called Grandma and I worked with one of my favorite artists ever that, you know, I got some of my style and juice and taste from, which is Missy Elliott. I call Missy shes my twinme, her and Busta Rhymesare triplets. I represented my tribe early on, of people that I could really connect with and I felt like I could see myself in. She was definitely one of them, the G.O.A.T. It felt real good to get her on a song. I met Missy through Timbaland I was in Virginia working on my album. And then I get a call from Timbaland, which is like, crazy. This is like a call from Jesus Christ, God wanted to work. And Im like, Oh, hell yeah. Master of all masters, Timbaland. Yeah, I think it was one of my producers, it was Rajah. His manager at the time reached out to him to connect me to Timbaland and Timbaland told me he wanted to introduce me to Missy. So, Im like, Damn, I didnt even meet Timbaland, but I guess he knew that Im a part of their tribe. So, he reached out to me. He connected me with Missy. The way a lot of the songs happened on there was really like...it was divine because even with the song Beautiful People with Chuck D and my grandmother, it was always a dream to like, put my grandmother on a song. She kind of gives me a Maya Angelou kind of vibe. Shes very Afrocentric, into dance, into culture, African-American culture, African culture and did a lot of stuff for the community. And she has a beautiful voice. Shes not a singer or nothing like that, but she can be and she loves Maya Angelou. So, I told my grandmother to write some poetry or something she would like to say to the world and make it line with what I was talking about on Beautiful People. And Id been looking for Chuck D for a long-ass time. I didnt know how to reach out to him...And I bumped into him at a restaurant, which was super crazy. He was there with his daughter. We was at a Jamaican restaurantNegril. He was walking out and Im like, Damn, Im about to miss him. Im like, I cant miss him. This is destined. So, I stopped his daughter before she left out behind him. Im like, Im a huge fan of your father, Im A$AP Ferg...I would love to make music with him. She gave me a card, I think. And I reached out to him, he reached out back and we did the song. New Level just talking about me always striving and finally prospering, which is sticking to the title of the album and the acronym that we live by. So, yeah. Thats what New Level was. So, you could take the beat out and you would hear what Im saying. Itll be Bible to peoples ears because its a rags-to-riches story. Its overcoming obstacles and trying times and really making something of yourself. Check out more from XXLs Spring 2021 issue including Cardi B's cover story how rappers are legally making money from the cannabis boom Snowfall's Damson Idrison how hip-hop impacted his life and more. See Cardi B's Photo Shoot inXXL Magazine's Spring 2021 Issue Filed Under: Read more