by Jacob McKay
A$AP Yams is one of the biggest reasons why this site exists. As we approach growth milestones, I think it’s only fair on his birthday to show him the appropriate amount of respect. In 2012 I was a much more insecure version of myself, a skinny teen with an affinity for hip-hop and the internet. I was just into the skinny pants and Vans phase then, and the type of music that I was listening to was increasingly weird. I remember the first time I saw the A$AP Rocky video for Pe$o like it was yesterday. I was fully caught up in the way these guys carried themselves, and the pudgy Puerto Rican guy with braids had the most gravitas out of all of them. I quickly spent time learning all I could about the A$AP Mob, and Always Strive and Prosper became my motto too. The Mob taught me how to be cozy, and also taught me to be confident in myself and my dress the way I wanted to dress. When people weren’t getting it I took solace in the fact that being a weirdo meant you were a few steps away from being a star. Yams was the mastermind behind the groups’ success, seeing Rocky for the star he was and promoting him as the frontman for their rise. He had the foresight to see that their fashion forward art house sensibilities and streetwise raps created something unique and electrifying. They became the kings of cool over years of guidance from their visionary, Yams aka Steven Rodriguez. We know the A$AP story by now and we know how broad their current success is, but Yams is behind more than that. He knew about Lil Uzi Vert years ago, and MadeinTYO, and Carti, Yachty, and more. He could sniff out talent a mile away and then new the moves to make in order to get them where they wanted to go. He was a master facilitator, and I want to operate in the same way. 26th & Cottage Grove the blog was fostered under the idea that we could give people a platform to showcase their talent. Local people, who may not have the confidence or resources to display their gifts to a larger audience. That’s the goal here, and hopefully Yams would appreciate something like this. His death was one of the first times in my life where I was shaken by a celebrity dying too soon. I was so emotional because he was one of the people I saw myself collaborating with, He gave me hope because I connected with his vision, finding talent and bringing it to the fore. Finding beauty and bringing it to the fore. Life is unfair and brutal, and Yams’ death is proof of that. But his vision lives on and grows more and more beautiful with the expansion of the Mob. It still inspires me, and the vision for 26th & Cottage similar. I see artists of all kinds growing under this umbrella, and with the help of people reading this, like you, we can do that. We can inspire people together. It’s as simple as not being afraid of sharing what you’re passionate about. We all have gifts to give each other, and like Yams did in his life, we have the ability to spread our gifts far and wide. Stay cozy, my friends, in the memory of the man known as Yamborghini aka lil Newport aka the Puerto Rican R. Kelly. Always Strive and Prosper.