As South By Southwest scales back this year on the outdoor pop-up festivals that litter its official performances, lavish private parties with hip-hop’s biggest names are all the rage. The annual conference in Austin, Texas, is a notorious snipe hunt for celebrities, and so ASAP Mob threw two parties this week to build up that social media-driven FOMO.
ASAP Rocky, Ferg, Nast, Snacks, and the gang were on hand for the turn-up to commence. This after ASAP Mob announced a secret mansion party late Monday, without so much as GPS coordinates to guide fans. The announcement was made via ASAP Mob’s Twitter, and the catch was that attendees were required to wear a robe.
Although the rule wasn’t enforced, the party was of typical ASAP Mob’s style: heavily curated, with a fashionista’s attention to detail. Attendees who landed an email invite had to meet at a loading dock on Lake Austin, only to be transported by boat to the adopted ASAP mansion. With the music business congested downtown all week, it was a power move of exclusivity.
ASAP Mob is a collective of rappers, producers, music video directors, and fashion designers with a knack for coming together and, well, partying. In 2015 the group lost co-founder of the ASAP Worldwide record label, ASAP Yams, to an acute drug intoxication. Ever since, the parties have been bolder and almost fatalist—a tribute to how short life can be.
Lil Yachty, Canadian rapper Tasha the Amazon, and brands presumably paying the tab were in attendance. The party was carnival-themed with corn dogs, popcorn, a bounce house filled with pillows, and of course an open tequila bar because what else would you want to take shots of in Texas?
When rap hero ASAP Rocky made his appearance, descending down from the three-tiered mansion with a lakefront view, the music got louder and he made a b-line straight for the cotton candy (same). Lil Yachty and Danny Brown joined in, and the two casually walked around the party posing for pictures and hanging out at the DJ booth.
Lil Yatchy, who is only 19 years old and often goes by Young Boat, had his breakthrough moment in 2015 with “One Night” and “Minnesota,” from his debut EP Summer Songs. The young rapper has teens hypnotized by his unique sound and iconic, red-beaded dreads. Most recently the young rapper was seen in a Grammys Target ad with Carly Rae Jepsen.
Lil Yachty told the Daily Dot the ad “took five days to make,” and that Target “reached out” about the collaboration.
The party fell flat. Rocky told me that technical difficulties forced him to scrap a planned screening of a video project. I was disappointed that only a handful of people decided to sport a robe. But anywhere I can share a handshake and a bag of popcorn with ASAP Mob is a night done right. After some past shakeups at SXSW—more on that later—the gang was here to play nice.
The rap group kept it going as a means to redeem their reputation at SXSW with Cozy Party Day 2 on Wednesday, in partnership with MTV, Reddit, and Twitch. Although held at Rio, a stuffy club that usually caters to men who love velvet ropes and the bikini-clad women who bring them drinks, Wednesday night’s rager was considerably noisier than the mansion.
Playboi Carti, another young and emerging rapper, kicked off the party with would-be radio anthems “Fetti” and “Broke Boi.” ASAP Tyy and ASAP Ferg emerged from the back, chiming in with Playboi Carti to wake the crowd up around midnight.
ASAP Ferg then took the stage solo, pumping the crowd up with his hit singles.
“Where’s Shabba?” he asked, just as ASAP Rocky jumped onstage. For the fans following this crew all week, the pay off was watching Rocky finally perform.
Up front, it was a typical rap concert full of energy. In the back, Rio patrons complained about Rocky’s lack of stage time, calling him “disrespectful” for “socializing and shit.”
ASAP Ferg brought the crowd back to life with “New Level,” as people were standing on couches and tables, including this reporter.
“I’m not going to lie, this is the ‘littest’ place in South By Southwest tonight,” ASAP Ferg said.
He was probably right.
In 2012, an ASAP Rocky show at the Vice Kills Texas party turned into an actual mob, as a brawl broke out between the band and the audience after a few beer cans were thrown at the group. The altercation inhibited their opportunity to perform again at South By, until now.
Now Rocky’s friends–Ferg, Yachty, Playboi Carti, etc.—are making a name for themselves down here not just off the mythology, but by channeling that 2012 energy onstage.