How A$AP Yams’ Vision And Passion For Community Changed My Career

Music video director Shomi Patwary remembers a life-changing boost from A$AP Mob founder A$AP Yams.

February 04, 2015

Before music video director Shomi Patwary took the reins as the Senior Video Producer at FADER, his extensive videography (Beyoncé, Clipse, Pusha T) included several collaborations with the A$AP Mob crew. He lensed the clips for A$AP Ferg's "Work" and "Hood Pope," along with A$AP Mob's "Bath Salts" and the video for A$AP Rocky's single from last year, "Multiply." He was and still is close with the crew, and was one of many who were profoundly affected by the recent, tragic passing of A$AP Yams. As he described it to The FADER, Yams never missed a beat in supporting up-and-coming artists and taking care of his friends in a way that makes him truly irreplaceable. Below, Patwary talks about meeting Yams in Virginia, the life-changing boost Yams gave his producer brother, and how Yams' vision defined the Mob. — LARRY FITZMAURICE

Shomi Patwary: The first time I saw the video for A$AP Rocky's "Purple Swag, I didn't even look at Rocky in the video—I looked at the guy with the birthmark. As I got to know them more, I came to like Rocky's music, but I was intrigued by A$AP Yams. Like, "Who's this dude?"

My brother, Tash P, is a producer that's part of the Very Rare crew, who've produced a lot of records for the A$AP camp—and that's all because of Yams and A$AP Ferg. One day, my brother was like, "Yo, I've been talking to Ferg, these guys are coming to [Richmond], I think they're gonna get us in [the show]." I was like, "Dude, are you sure?" He was like, "Trust me, Ferg said he wants to meet me." We had no press passes, but I had a microphone because I was like, "Yo, maybe we'll do an interview or something?" My brother's like, "We're gonna walk in with this microphone, and I don't think anyone will question us." And they didn't.

We had to do something to get [A$AP Mob's] attention, and my brother's a wild dude so he hops on stage, past security, and starts getting turnt up with them onstage. Yams was like, "Yo, who is this crazy kid? You are wild." We got his attention instantly. After the show, we waited next to their tour bus. It's not the kind of thing I do, but I did it for my brother. Yams comes out and sees my brother, and he's like, "You are insane, my dude. Let's stay in touch." Yams was one of the most approachable dudes. He was one of those guys who genuinely cared about the culture and wanted to help people that he could easily vibe with. A&Rs are typically like, "This guy's ready for the radio, he's got this many blog views." Yams wasn't like that. That's why it worked for my brother. Yams and Ferg just told him, "Send me all these beats." My brother and Yams are the same age, so they have the same sense of humor—it's polarizing, some of it may be misogynistic and crazy, but it's all [part of] a character that they've built up. My brother told me a few days ago, "Yams is the one who gave me the courage to talk my shit."

Yams was who my brother would call when he had things to get off his chest. And Yams would be like, "Dude, we're gonna kill it, just keep waiting." He was the support system for everybody from Flatbush Zombies to World's Fair. A$AP Mob don't have a huge team of people—it's just Yams and the guys. Yams is doing A&R, he's doing digital marketing, he's being a therapist to all these guys. It's a lot of pressure.

I remember me and Rocky were at [Manhattan's Quad Studios] one time, and he was like, "Yo, I don't want all this pressure. I didn't think I was gonna blow up this fast." But Yams knew what he was doing—he said this was all gonna happen. When they shot "Peso," Rocky only had $300 in his bank account. Fool's Gold wanted to sign him. Atlantic wanted to sign him. But Yams was like, "No, we're not gonna take any of these offers." He went with what they felt was best.

One time, we went to Milk Studios [for a photoshoot], and I invited my cousin, a lawyer, to the shoot. Yams opened up Photo Booth on an iMac and everybody started taking selfies on it—even my cousin, who's never been around these rappers. Here we are, in the penthouse of Milk Studios, and these guys are all smoking blunts and taking selfies. It was hilarious, man.

My best memory with Yams was when he and A$AP Ant came to my [New York] office. He was like, "Yo, we've got this video for [Remy Banks, A$AP Ant, and Juice's "3FLIPS6"], you want to shoot it?" I was like, "Yeah, when do you want to shoot it?" Yams was like, "Tomorrow." I was like, "How are you gonna shoot this tomorrow?" And Yams is like, "It doesn't matter, dude. We got the people, that's what matters." When Yams was helping plan the video for Bodega Bamz' "P.A.P.I." he was like, "Yo, I'll get you guys the Versace shirts from my personal collection." Yams genuinely supported these guys without any financial agenda. His thing was just to see everybody win.

One time, Rocky's manager was talking about how Rocky got this huge record, but it was for the Ninja Turtles movie. Rocky asked me, "Bro, should we do it, or not?" I was like, "If it's a lot of money involved, maybe?" Then Yams comes in and just deads the whole thing. "Are you fucking serious? I haven't seen the movie, but I know this movie's gonna be wack, and nobody's heard anything from Rocky in like four or five months. This song is not what we need to come out with. I don't care how much the check is." Rocky had already done his verse, so Yams made sure they took the verse out, and pulled Rocky out of the music video. He had that vision. I trusted his vision.

Any time I talked to Yams, there was mutual respect—it felt like maybe we knew each other even earlier [than we did]. He respected my opinions, and I just really appreciated that. The day he passed, I got a text message from Rocky at 4AM I woke up and my friend was like, "Yo, have you been checking out social media lately?" I was like, "No, it's 7AM on a Sunday." When he told me Yams had died, I was like, "Stop joking around, this is some trolling shit." Then I looked at my phone. It was very real. I was in shock so I couldn't even cry. When I told my brother, I saw him cry, and that made me cry. I was hurting for this guy that went away, but I was also hurting for all his friends, who were like brothers to them. It was painful for me just to see their pain.

The day before he passed, Yams randomly texted me and was like, "Thank you for understanding our vision." I was like, "What the hell? Okay, cool. Thanks man." That was the last text message I got from him.

How A$AP Yams’ Vision And Passion For Community Changed My Career