By Kyle Kramer, for RedEye
9:35 AM CDT, May 4, 2012
Rocky, who recently signed a record deal with RCA's Polo Grounds imprint and whose debut mixtape LiveLoveA$AP has drawn acclaim from both critics and fellow artists, was making his first appearance in Chicago. He'll return July 13 to play Pitchfork Fest in Chicago's Union Park.
"It's his first time in Chicago so we wanted to make it really special," said Austin Neely, social media director at RSVP. "We wanted to give the fans a fun activity and a chance to interact with Rocky on a more personal level."
Neely said RSVP co-owner Virgil Abloh's close relationship with the A$AP crew was the impetus behind the trip to Chicago. The store, in addition to sponsoring the show, was selling limited edition R$VPA$AP hats, shirts, and bandanas. Rocky, whose interest in fashion has already made him something of an icon in the hip-hop world, fit comfortably with RSVP's own aesthetic--equal parts hip-hop and haute couture.
Sharply dressed fans browsed the store, waiting for their chance to get a picture with or an autograph from Rocky. Antonio Brown, 22, came from Plainfield to meet the rapper and see his show.
"I really like the whole A$AP vibe," he explained. "I like his image. He's mixing the urban wear with the high end fashion...it's something we need in hip-hop."
He added, "I'll be there front row," referring to the show. Rocky's fashion-oriented image was part of the draw for other fans as well, including Manny Hicks, 21, of Austin, who celebrated Rocky's blend of the fashion and hip-hop worlds.
"It's about time somebody did that," Hicks said. Hicks added that he thought Rocky's music was distinctive as well. "It's got like a different flavor," he said. "It mixes the West Coast and Harlem."
Chris Evans, 18, of the South Side, agreed.
"I love his music," he said. "He's bringing a different style. It's retro but it's fresh...I'm definitely going to the show." In addition to the fans, a few notable Chicago hip-hop presences stopped by, including South Side rapper Fredo Santana, whose music has been attracting considerable local and industry buzz in recent weeks.
As the mixtape of Fredo's cousin and affiliate, Chief Keef, played in the background, the rapper snapped some photos with Rocky and showed off his own soon-to-be released T-shirts.
"I'm rocking with his wave and movement," Fredo said of Rocky and the A$AP crew. As for Rocky's views of Chicago, well, they were positive as well. "I think Chicago is trill [true and real] as [bleep]," he said, bestowing the city with his signature compliment.
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor
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