by naya clark photos by dylan schattman
A$AP TyY, one of Harlem’s A$AP Mob members and a Bike Life pioneer, is known for his style and affinity for getting around town on motorcycles, quads and dirt bikes . As a member of the collective, he released new music, merchandising and collaborations this year. The man behind the latest releases “100 Rounds”, “Who Ain’t With Me” and “Ting” explains how his collaborative clothing design, Bike Life and rap lifestyles intersect.
“Bike Life plays a major role in balancing my lifestyle because I’m actually [one of] the pioneers of Bike Life culture in New York,” says TyY. “A lot of my music comes out, explaining my culture and my craft, aligning me with Bike Life, my normal lifestyle and the things I do [in] normal daily life. This is where music plays a major role. It’s just that I have a trip.
The dedication to this lifestyle can be seen in his “100 Rounds” video, as we watch TyY retard on a pink and purple four-wheeler, doing tricks with intense, playful focus. It rolls with a grandiose charm that’s just as bold as it rumbles the chorus throughout the track.
Similarly, the “Who Ain’t With Me” video, shot in Harlem, features TyY zooming around on his bike. In both videos, TyY is the very essence of Bike Life’s freedom and spontaneity. Everyone in their group has designed elaborate rides on which they spin, wheelie, and stand while rolling at full speed. “It’s thrill seeking,” he says, “I don’t know what to expect every day. It keeps me interested.
The genius of videos is that they have the ability to make listeners feel like daredevils, which is the whole point. TyY’s powerful vocals soar over weighted drill beats that are driven and infectious, putting the listener in their shoes. “It’s really just a way of life,” he says. “[The] things that we live and breathe every day, I’m just talking about and guiding people through.
The Harlem rapper is a force to be reckoned with. It all comes together through a combination of his incisive way of speaking, the way he makes everything obvious, and his collection of over 40 tattoos.
As TyY traveled the world, visiting destinations such as China, Italy and Mexico, he made sure to mark each trip with fresh ink. His favorites include a bird on his shin he got in China, a burning building depicting Chinese architecture, and a script piece that reads “A$AP Lifestyle.”
“I have a headstone of my grandmother, when she passed away, it’s one of my favorite pieces,” he says. “I have a piece on my chest that makes me feel like I’m walking through the gates of heaven. It’s a piece that I really like too…”
TyY admits that some of his favorite tattoo artists are Mexican and Chinese. He is a huge fan of Chinese architecture and how it is integrated through the country’s culture and tattoo styles. He also admires the Mexican work ethic and how it shows in his experiences with the skills of Mexican tattoo artists.
But his international experiences aren’t just limited to his tattoos, as TyY is also known for his apparel, jewelry, and shoe collaborations. For a bit of bling he worked with Australian jewelry brand Ksubi and to keep his kicks fresh he customized Nikes alongside London brand CroxxHatch.
Away from the mic, A$AP TyY is a man of few words, but much more shines through in his music, his sense of style and, of course, his tattoos.