A CONVERSATION WITH A$AP FERG
This past month, I was fortunate enough to be able to work with Dr. Jess and her team to curate her event, #BeWell. #BeWell is a conversation series that aims to highlight everyday struggles and promotes reflection and uplifting talks related to mental well-being and mindset.
What I love about the series is that Dr. Jess talks with people who have had a significant influence in the community and have a platform and creates a safe space for them to open up. The conversations allow us to see their vulnerabilities and what makes them who they are. A$AP Ferg was an amazing guest, and listening to the conversation with him added an extra layer of humanness to him and the fact that no matter where you are, we all share a lot of the same feelings and go through highs, lows, and pain alike. Here are some of the highlights of the conversation with Ferg:
1. He spoke about how fame can really get to you.
A$AP Ferg spoke about how beyond the glitz and glamour and public image, artists are just regular human beings, which we tend to forget. He noted that while we perceive celebrities as being untouchable, they are regular people just like us and go through their own things. On the other side of the coin, fame can be a powerful drug that can really get to you and set off a balance of reality. Ferg has stayed in New York through the peaks of his career while many of his friends moved out to LA for this exact reason – being here has kept him grounded and gives him balance. It actually really shocked me in a great way how down to earth and self-aware he was.
2. People won’t always understand your vision, and that’s okay. Keep going.
When he was growing up in Harlem, people (including his mom) didn’t always understand what it was he was doing. Other kids would mock him and his friends and call them “gay” because they had a different sense of style and wore brands that weren’t known or cool in his neighborhood. His message to those of us going through those moments of growth or just coming into your own: continue to be authentic and just do you. It will make sense to others later.
3. Bottling up emotions after his father and hero passed away was the only way he could cope.
It goes without saying that Ferg’s father had a huge influence on his life. That was his superhero and to deal with this loss was and still is not easy. He spoke about how he only cried a little bit during the funeral, but then didn’t let himself really feel the pain for at least a year after. He would block out the pain with music and with other ways to keep himself going. It was after other deaths moving forward happened that he started to get worried at how numb he was becoming. He went to his father’s tombstone to see if he felt something, to make sure that the could still feel. I really respect how open he was with us to share something so personal and show us a side of him that we don’t see with his public persona as an artist and member of A$AP Mob.
4. Growing up in Harlem
He opened up to us about a lot of the ways that he had to adapt to his environment and the influence that it had on him. It wasn’t always safe, and he had to find ways to stay out of trouble and even just to keep his life at times. He said how he still has dreams about some of the things that he would be worried about and were so ingrained in everyday life for him just walking to and from school, like avoiding getting shot. The trauma that came from losing loved ones too often, witnessing a lot of violence, and being around some people at deep lows around him had a lasting impact to this day.
5. The power of love and family support
Ferg mentioned how he is deeply grateful for his extended family and the ways that they look out for him and protect him. He noted how lucky he is that they don’t try to use him or ask for money or just stick around for those reasons. Love is a powerful thing, and the support goes a long way and has shaped him greatly into the grounded man that he is.
The night ended with affirmations written by the audience and read out loud by Ferg and Dr. Jess and some questions for the guest of honor. This event was so amazing because Dr. Jess truly is a pioneer that leads by positive example. She takes her expertise and applies it outside of the doctor-patient relationship. She is using her platform to start necessary and not always easy conversations. By having guests like A$AP Ferg, who are so willing to share and allow us to really see them, we see the power there is in our stories – including the not so pretty and filtered moments. We see the power in owning what makes us who we are.