A$AP Ferg on the Adidas Pure Boost Go, Running Culture, New Music, and Madonna
A$AP Ferg hates running. But he likes the challenge. It’s a (somewhat) complicated relationship that most of us can relate to. Which is why, despite his feelings on his new go-to form of exercise, he’s all positive vibes when we start talking about the work he’s doing with Adidas Running and Kwasi Kessie, his friend, stylist, and captain of Adidas Runners NYC.
“I feel good, man,” Ferg says. “I'm working with my brother Kwasi, this whole running Adidas thing. I feel good.” He should. His work with Adidas launched a new shoe designed for urban runners, the Pure Boost Go, but there’s more to the partnership than that—Ferg and Kessie also worked with Adidas to revitalize a running track in their native Harlem. It’s a way to bring the “communion” that the two feel from running to their neighborhood.
I caught up with the duo in Quad Studios in Mahattan earlier this summer to talk about hitting the streets, Ferg’s new album, fellow Harlemite Dapper Dan, and how the fashion industry is finally “realizing how much they need us.”
There’s a lot to look forward to with the new album.
A$AP Ferg: I can't let the cat out the hat yet, but it's a huge producer. I mean, he's huge to me. He's made a lot of songs that the world loves, crossover records, everything. We love him. Very artistic, very expressive. We just finished the album officially. It sounded really good, it sounded like my best music. Scary that it sounds so good.
Ferg recorded a track with Madonna that never got released.
AF: That was nuts. The song that we did, she never put it out, but just the whole experience of me being called by Skrillex and Diplo, all these different people, to come in and you talk about like "Yo, Madonna's looking for you," and I'm like, "Hold up. Me?" This was Swizz's birthday too. Alicia Keys was throwing a birthday for Swizz, and I was dressed up about the head, and I had to detour and go to the studio.
She's a real professional, she had grills in, she had all of these fancy teas and things like that, and all of the lyrics to her songs printed out, real professional. And it was dope, you felt like you was next to a legend. And shout out for her son for recommending me. I said "Don't worry, I'll lead your son in the right direction." I'm raising people's kids out here.
Running culture is something they both appreciate—in their own ways.
Kwasi Kessi: We just started running, and running culture is so influential and so impactful. [Ferg] crosses all genres and all boundaries. His music—everything he makes is so energetic that people run to it. Like, I'll run with a speaker, and we running to "New Levels," we're running to "Work," we running to all his songs, so it's just natural. We're playing Ferg because it has that energy.
AF: I hate running, by the way; I'm still learning.
KK: Most of you do, most of you do!
AF: I don't know if Kwas hates running still, or he just loves tackling what feels is hard to accomplish with running. Because he does miles, and it looks like he's regular after he's finished. No sweat. So I aspire, not to get on his level, but to at least to get somewhere in there where I'm comfortable with getting out there running, because it's good for your health, and I feel like us doing it in a cool way—like Kwas being stylish, and wearing all of the fly Adidas gear—is the way to do it.
KK: Everything we do, we're trying to live forever. I wanna make running cool for my community because that's just another way for people to be healthy and just move. So whatever I can do to make it cool in the community, I'm going to do it.
Refurbishing the Harlem track was a huge deal.
KK: For Adidas to come to us, to Harlem, to our neighborhood, and for them to refurbish the track, was just monumental. I went to high school down the block from where they refurbished the track. I remember the east side of Harlem being crack needles and stuff. So being from Harlem, and being able to give back to the community in that way? That's dope. Everyone respects them giving back. And that's what I'm trying to do. Whether it be fashion or fitness, I'm just trying to leave an imprint on the world and make a difference with the people, with the kids, with the community, I feel like that's our duty just being on earth is to do something positive.
They think we could all learn something from Dapper Dan.
KK: I feel like he's getting his just due. I feel like social media definitely helped with the Gucci collaboration, but I think it's just the energy of what's going on: People see the potential in street culture, they see the potential in hip-hop. It's always been there, but now it's like they have to confront what's going on. You need Dapper Dan to make Gucci relevant and cool and street and give it that edge and tell that story. I think it's just 360, I think he's such an amazing person that it was going to happen regardless.
AF: That is a superhero.
KK: Yeah, exactly, every time you speak to him, he's giving you knowledge and knowledge. He's done nothing but good for the community, and he's going to get it back, and that's what he's getting now. He's glowed up, because that's what he's put into the universe. Time and time again.
AF: The reason why I put him in the video, not only because he is a legend, but I think it's important for kids to see that. It’s important that we still listen to our elders. He has a lot to say. Before all the Gucci stuff happened he called me, "Should I do it?" We always had that communication open, and I learned so much from that. I think that's important, otherwise we're just going to be a lost generation.
Virgil moving to Louis Vuitton is big, but the African-American influence on fashion at large is even bigger.
ASAP Ferg: W-O-W. Big. That's a game-changer. Especially for me, because I started in fashion. I was at the High School of Art and Design [in Manhattan]. My major was fashion, and my minor was fine arts. And, man, to fathom a heterosexual African-American man being the head designer at Louis Vuitton, at a big fashion house like that, was unimaginative when I was a young kid, building my own brand. We just didn't see it; we didn't have an example. I’d see Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, all of these other different guys doing it, but I didn't see nobody with my complexion, with a huge fashion house upscale designing. That was black history month for me. Huge.
I didn't see nobody my with complexion with a huge fashion house upscale designing.
Not only him, but shout out to Kanye. Shout out to Pharrell, for even opening those doors up. Shout out to Rocky. Shout out to the whole A$AP mob, because it's us all together. Shout out Pigalle, shout out to Shirraf. All of these people—Fear of God—help mold this thing into what it is now. Now it's just like all of our friends are in the house. We can visit Kim Jone’s office at Dior, we could go to Virgil’s office at Louis Vuitton, we could go Adidas building. I'm working with Valentino. We're in all of these houses now.
It’s not necessarily about "street influence."
ASAP Ferg: It's not even a street influence, because Virgil is not from the streets. It’s just African-American influence. That's what it's realizing. It's realizing urban influence. Just because you're urban doesn't mean you're street. It's just realizing how much they need us.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.