by naya clark photos by dylan schattman
A$AP TyY, one of Harlem’s A$AP Mob members and a Bike Life pioneer, is known for his style and his affinity for gliding around the city on motorcycles, four-wheelers and dirt bikes. As a part of the collective, he has released new music, merch and collaborations this year. The man behind recent releases “100 Rounds,” “Who Ain’t With Me” and “Ting” discusses how his collaborative clothing design, Bike Life and rap lifestyles intersect.
“Bike Life plays a major part in balancing my lifestyle because I’m actually [one of] the pioneers of Bike Life culture in New York City,” TyY says. “A lot of my music is coming out, explaining my culture and craft, aligning myself with Bike Life, my normal lifestyle and things that I’m doing [in] normal day-to-day life. That’s how music plays a major role. It’s just me having a journey.”
The dedication to this lifestyle can be seen in his “100 Rounds” video, as we watch TyY stunting on a pink and purple four-wheeler, doing tricks with intense focus and playfulness. He rides with a grandiose charm that is just as bold as he rumbles the chorus throughout the track.
Similarly, the “Who Ain’t With Me” video, shot in Harlem, features TyY zooming through on his bike. In both videos, TyY is the essence of Bike Life freedom and spontaneity. Everyone in his posse has elaborately designed rides that they rev, pop wheelies and stand up on while riding at top speed. “It’s thrill-seeking,” he says, “I don’t know what to expect every day. It keeps me interested.”
The genius of the videos is that they have the ability to make listeners feel like daredevils, which is the whole point. TyY’s forceful vocals soar over weighted drill beats that are driven and infectious, putting the listener into his shoes. “It’s really just a way of life,” he says. “[The] stuff we live and breathe every day, I’m just talking through it and navigating people through it.”
The Harlem rapper is a force to be reckoned with. It all comes together through a combination of his cut-to-the-chase way of speaking, the way he makes everything feel obvious and his collection of more than 40 tattoos.
As TyY has traveled the world, visiting destinations such as China, Italy and Mexico, he’s made sure to mark each journey with some new ink. His favorites include a bird on his shin that he got while in China, one depicting a burning building of Chinese architecture and a script piece reading “A$AP Lifestyle.”
“I have a tombstone representing my grandmother, when she passed away, that’s one of my favorite pieces,” he says. “I have a piece on my chest that looks like I’m walking through the gates of Heaven. That’s a piece I love a lot also…”
TyY admits some of his favorite tattoo artists are Mexican and Chinese. He’s a big fan of Chinese architecture and how it’s incorporated through the country’s culture and tattoo styles. He also admires the Mexican work ethic and how it shows in his experiences with Mexican tattoo artists’ skills.
But his international experiences aren’t solely limited to his tattoos, as TyY is also known for his clothing, jewelry and shoe collaborations. For some bling, he’s worked with Australian jewelry brand Ksubi and to keep his kicks fresh he’s customized Nikes alongside London brand CroxxHatch.
Away from the microphone, A$AP TyY is a man of few words, but so much more comes through in his music, his sense of style and, of course, his tattoos.