ASAP Yams, co-founder and mastermind behind the ASAP Mob crew, has died at the age of 26. No details surrounding the death are currently public, though members of the ASAP crew and fellow hip-hop artists have expressed their condolences to Yams, born Steven Rodriguez, via social media.
Yams grew up in Harlem, New York, and as a teenager he interned with the neighborhood’s Diplomats Records. At 17 years old, he co-founded the ASAP Mob with ASAP Bari and ASAP Illz in 2007 before adding ASAP Rocky and ASAP Ferg the following year. Though never much at the forefront of the group’s public persona, Yams’ RealNiggaTumblr established him as a tastemaker in the scene and his managerial skills helped secure Rocky and the Mob a $3 million deal with RCA/Polo Grounds.
Yams was called the Damon Dash to Rocky’s Jay Z or the Puff Daddy to his Biggie in 2013 a profile by The New York Times. In the same story, Yams referred to the relationship in Star Wars terms: “Rocky’s like Luke Skywalker, and I’m Yoda,” he said. Discussing how Rocky’s blend of regional and historical styles was a result of Yams’ direction, reporter Jon Caramanica wrote, “Hip-hop has long been obsessed with fealty to a specific place and time, and Yams’s vision of the genre as an open house, not a fortress, qualifies as a radical one.”
Below, read a series of social media tributes to Yams from members of the ASAP Mob as well as the likes of Drake, Azealia Banks, A-Trak, M.I.A., and others.