Two years ago a rapper like A$AP Rocky headlining a venue the size of The Fillmore, let alone selling out similar rooms nationwide without a full-length major label studio album, was about as likely as a gangsta rapper wearing lederhosen on stage.
But in the age of the buzz building, sample-heavy mix tape which are free to attract listeners to unproven artists (and to avoid paying for samples) A$AP Rocky is forging a new path.
The Harlem-born, Jersey-bred emcee and video director has built enough buzz through tens of millions of YouTube views (for tracks like the R-rated single Goldie), collaborations with Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar, and a high profile appearance with Rihanna at MTVs 2012 VMAs.
He received six BET Hip-Hop nominations, including those for video direction and live performance.
He didnt win, but accolades are still rolling in, all on the strength of two self-released mix tapes and his first major label single.
His LongLiveA$AP tour hits The Fillmore on Thursday.
A lot of things change through time, Rocky said recently after an early video shoot.
Within the next five years regular procedures for artists and ways careers take off are going to shift. Opportunities like nominations and credits (with other artists) could really be big without having a major label studio album.
Rockys debut studio album, LongLiveA$AP, was set for July, then October. He wont reveal a date now until one is set, but says the delay isnt due to him tweaking it to build anticipation.
Secretly this album has been done, honestly, for the past couple of months. My buzz has been growing rapidly, but Ive secretly done all these amazing things a long time ago, he says.
Those amazing things include the stars who have welcomed him on collaborations both on his record and on theirs.
People like to work with me because Im eclectic and I care about the craft. Its a true collaboration based on chemistry, not based on buzz.
Hell reveal a bit of LongLive A$AP when he takes the stage Thursday.
And while industry experts would love to repeat A$AP Rockys early success which is a lot like artists of the 1950s and 60s who proved themselves through singles before recording a full-length he says theres no grand plan on his part.
I dont think you can plan anything like this, he says. This is all Gods doing.