ASAP Yams, the hip-hop executive who helped start the career of ASAP Rocky, the popular Harlem rapper whose 2013 studio album, “Long.Live.ASAP,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, has died. He was 26.
ASAP Rocky confirmed his death in a Twitter post. The circumstances of his death were not immediately available.
ASAP Yams, whose real name was Steven Rodriguez, was a co-owner of the ASAP Worldwide label and a founder of the ASAP Mob collective of rappers, producers, video directors and fashion designers, many of whom also carry the ASAP name, including the rapper ASAP Ferg.
Yams, who grew up at the southern edge of Harlem, preferred to be the “mastermind behind the scenes,” ASAP Rocky told The New York Times in 2013. The pair met in 2008 through mutual friends and worked together in the studio to create Rocky’s sound.ADVERTISEMENTnull
“Rocky’s like Luke Skywalker, and I’m Yoda,” Yams told The Times.
RCA Records, the label he and Rocky worked with, released a statement on Sunday expressing shock at his death.
“As one of the creative forces behind ASAP Worldwide, Yams’ vision, humor and dedication to the members of ASAP Mob will always be remembered,” the statement said.
Yams grew up listening to and studying hip-hop music. He dropped out of high school and worked as an intern at Diplomats Records, a company that put out albums by popular rappers like Cam’ron and Juelz Santana.
“Yams is the hip-hop encyclopedia,” Rocky said. Rocky’s career took off after Yams posted his song “Purple Swag” to his popular Tumblr blog in 2011. Yams struggled with drug abuse and acknowledged in 2013 that he had to get his behavior under control. He once choked on vomit in his sleep, he said, when he was high on Xanax and narcotic cough syrup at the Coachella music festival.
“I got to chill,” he told The Times. “It’s not a good look up there in the office. They’re not gonna have any faith.”
Recently, he had been promoting Rocky’s new single to his more than 75,000 followers on Twitter. On Sunday, artists like Drake and The Weeknd posted condolences on the site.
The rapper Azealia Banks wrote, “ASAP Yams should be remembered as a leader, an innovator and most importantly as an important part of NYC youth culture.”
Information on survivors was not immediately available.