Earlier this month, just days before A$AP Rocky released his Sony/RCA/Polo Grounds Music/A$AP Worldwide debut album, Long.Live.A$AP, his crew cohort, A$AP Ferg, inked a deal with the same label. With a buzz built without any mixtape, but only from features—like on Rocky's "Kissin' Pink" and "Ghetto Symphony," and scattered solo cuts, notably "Work" and "A Hundred Million Roses"—Ferg has quickly become one of the more exciting young rappers around. Now, the Harlem native is inching towards the release of his debut project, Trap Lord, slated to drop in about a month. Here, he talks to XXL about his new deal, the upcoming mixtape, the meaning of "Trap Lord" and what makes him a beast. —Adam Fleischer

XXL: Congrats on the deal.
A$AP Ferg: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Obviously Rocky is signed to RCA. When did you get in discussions for a solo deal for yourself?
It was always in the air, about me upgrading and signing to RCA myself, I just had to work for it. From the jump, people been whispering, ‘Ferg is next,’ and they’ve seen the progress.

When did it become official?
That was about two weeks ago. I ain’t gonna lie, Yams sent me a text message letting me know, a week before they even told me they wanted to sign me.

How’d you feel when you read that text?
I felt like, 'Finally. Now it’s time to get it.'

So what’s next?
My plan is to drop this Trap Lord mixtape, shake the world up a little bit, turn the world upside down. And just have fun. It’s about having fun. Y’all seen A$AP get the lawsuits and fight and all of this crazy stuff, now I want y’all to see the fun part. I’ve been in the passenger seat with Rocky driving for a while. Now it’s the part where they see what success brings you.

You’ve said to me before that you feel like you have a responsibility. Do you still feel that way?
Yeah, I definitely feel like I got a responsibility. Not just for my little brother, but the younger generation. I feel like I need to teach them. It’s a lot of people that’s misguided. That’s why A$AP is a cult-like entity, because we adopt the kids that really don’t have no guidance. All the street kids that either got picked on or had to fight everyday ’cause they clothes was different or they looked different; they was a black sheep to they community. We was the same kids. I wanna put that out there for the younger generation, and let them know it’s alright to be different. Actually, being different is better. Different is the fad now. Weird is the new athlete. Artists is the new jocks.

What’s the significance of the term “Trap Lord” to you? I know you have the merchandise plus the mixtape title.
I feel like it’s not just me that represents "Trap Lord." I feel like A$AP Rocky is a "Trap Lord." I feel like Nast is a "Trap Lord." Wale just posted a picture on his Instagram wearing a Trap Lord sweatshirt. DJ Enuff be sending me pictures of his sons wearing Trap Lord stuff. You gonna see a lot of different new faces that represent the brand—not only the brand, but where we come from.

A Trap Lord is basically the struggle to do better. It’s almost like the theme of Always Strive And Prosper (A$AP). Trap don’t necessarily mean you selling drugs. You could be selling clothes, watches, fake watches, gold teeth, hats—anything. You just trapping. And you a Lord of it.

Anything involved with that grind and that hustle.
Exactly. It’s just that grind and that hustle, in layman’s terms.

So when are you gonna drop the Trap Lord mixtape?
I’m looking at the end of February, early March. This is my first demo I’m ever putting out. I never even put out a demo for the labels to hear. This is the first shit I’m even putting together with numbers, with songs. So I wanna make sure it’s something special, I’m giving it my all. That’s why it’s kind of taking long. But trust me, when it comes out, it’s gonna be well worth it.

What’s it been like for you to put your first project together?
It’s fun, because I’ve been piecing together a team that I think I’m gonna be with for a long time as far as mixing, recording, young producers that you probably never even heard of. Sonically, it’s gonna be a monster. Straight movie shit. You ain’t hearing this shit nowhere—nobody has this sound. After this mixtape drop, you gonna hear everybody sound change. They gonna wanna know who’s working on my project ’cause it’s gonna sound that crazy. The best part is teaming up with these young rocket scientists that know what they doing. They rebels against anything that’s in cycle; they wanna go against the grain and make history. That’s all I’m about, is making history. I’m tired of the same hip-hop shit. It’s getting corny. All of this jumping around, looking stupid. I hate the term “real hip-hop,” but it’s real. Nobody can say my shit ain’t hip-hop, because I’m being innovative and I’m bringing something new to the table.

Your flow on “Ghetto Symphony” is crazy, and you’re always switching your flows up. What goes through your head when you hear a beat?
Nodboy’s fuckin’ with me when it comes to this rapping shit. I got that shit that you’ll hear ten years from now and you’ll be like, 'Damn, that’s what this nigga said?!' When I’m dead and gone, it’s gonna be like Picassos. Niggas is gonna be thirst to find old A$AP Ferg in the crates shit. It’s gonna be one of them things where you always hear something new. You gonna be like, 'Damn, this nigga mind was on some other shit.' It’s like I’m spitting codes, almost.

Yeah, when I listen, I’m like, 'This dude’s out of his mind.'
Word. When I think about it, I just think about beast. I wanna be a beast. I don’t see nobody fuckin’ with me when it comes to this rapping shit. It’s almost like the Napoleon syndrome shit. I don’t care how big you is. You can’t beat me.