Rap star A$AP Ferg describes becoming an entrepreneur in junior high school, learning from his dad, and the 4 things he put on his first business cards

  • A$AP Ferg, whose given name is Darold Ferguson, has gained fame as a rapper with a string of hit solo records and as part of A$AP Mob, but his business interests stretch far beyond music.
  • Ferguson started his first business selling T-shirts in junior high school, and made shirts for music artists like Jadakiss after being taught silk-screen printing by his father.
  • “I think first you just need to experiment and get into different things,” Ferguson told Business Insider. “The first five things you may do might not even be what you’re going to wind up doing.”
  • Ferguson has worked with brands like Adidas and Tiffany & Co., and is launching a new collaboration with bike company Redline on June 14.

Darold Ferguson is an idea guy.

Most in the wider public know Ferguson by his rap moniker, A$AP Ferg, and the hit songs he’s made both as a solo artist and with his New York-based crew, A$AP Mob. But within the industry, Ferguson is known for the breadth of projects and businesses he’s been involved in, which stretch from fashion to music to art (his latest painting was a self-portrait that pictured a fried egg to represent his brain on drugs).

In fact, 30-year-old Ferguson started his first business way back in junior high school, he told Business Insider in a recent, wide-ranging interview.

“I’d have kids bring their T-shirt, I’d draw on it, and I’d charge them like $30 a drawing,” Ferguson said. He did that for about a year until he started wanting to make more money, and his father, who ran a clothing boutique and created logos for the likes of Bad Boy Records, taught him how to silk screen print.

“He had kidney failure and he started getting sick and stuff so he taught me the trade,” he said of his father, who died when Ferguson was a teenager.

Ferguson sold T-shirts to many music artists, including rapper Jadakiss, though he admitted he messed up Jadakiss’ order one time because he didn’t let the shirts dry properly. Still, the business was generally a success.

“I never had less than $400 in my pocket,” he said.

But as a teenager, Ferguson, who attended art and design school, had other ambitions as well. He ordered business cards that said he designed jewelry, did silk screening, created logos, and was a rapper. One of his friends told him that no one would take him seriously when he was trying to do so many things at once, but Ferguson disagreed.

“I think first you just need to experiment and get into different things,” he said. “The first five things you may do might not even be what you’re going to wind up doing.”

Read more: Inside Kevin Hart’s 10-year journey to make his production company into a Hollywood hit maker

Still, Ferguson himself admits he might have had too many ideas.

“Do I try to become a gymnast?” he recalled asking himself. “I had a phase of that.”

Now that Ferguson has had such runaway success as a rapper, he’s been able to revisit his varied passions, he said. He has his own fashion company, Traplord, and has also worked with brands like Adidas, where he had a shoe line; and Tiffany & Co., for which he was a brand ambassador. On June 14, he’s launching a collaboration with bike company Redline — another of his passions,as evidenced by the video for his hit song, “Plain Jane.” It will be available on theRedline site and onNTWRK.

“It’s embedded in me to do different things,” he said. “Now I’ve got the platform to do everything I want to do and what I dreamed of doing.”

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