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Harlem rapper A$AP Ferg releases his debut studio album “Trap Lord” on Tuesday, following A$AP Rocky to become the second A$AP Mob artist to drop a full-length. But when Ferg was 17 years old, he was busy doing other things, like going leather shopping and asking lots of questions.

“I met a guy in Global Leathers,” Ferg, born Darold Ferguson Jr., said during a recent visit to The Huffington Post’s New York headquarters. “I always ask people what they do, there were lots of students in there coming from FIT, lots of people who worked for other brands just picking up swatches. That’s how I found this one guy — he just gave me a belt connect that was just right down the block.”

That hook up — “two guys named Mike and Oosh” — gave Ferg the break he had been looking for. The enterprising adolescent had decided to start making and selling designer belts, accessories he himself was fashioning. “The belts was just an idea for me because we were suffering — it wasn’t a great depression, but our country was losing at the time,” he explained. “But people still wanted to have some fly stuff on, so I thought I’ll just go into accessories.”

It took two years of research and lots of searching, but eventually Ferg got it popping. “It’s not like I bought belts and painted on them,” he stressed. “I was making leather belts from scratch. It was a three-layer belt with a double stitch and it had a gold-plated buckle on it.” Business took off soon after the two guys down the block from Manhattan’s Global Leathers took the bait. “They’ve been in business for like 30 years,” Ferg explained. “They make belts for everybody, like the whole industry. They were so used to making zillions of belts for people, and I was just this young kid with an idea. We started at six belts, and I told them, ‘I promise you, I’ll get more belts made.’ Every time we came, we were increasing the order until we were doing 500 belts.”

Soon Chris Brown and other celebrities were mugging in photos with Ferg, wearing the $150 belts, which were sold under the name Devoni.

But selling boatloads of high-end belts wasn’t enough for the young artist in training, and he wasn’t interested in making mixtapes either. “Mixtapes are always small scale to me — they never get taken seriously and they’re always short-lived,” he said. His intention, which is made clear on “Trap Lord,” was to stay true to the style he calls “The Fergestein” — syrupy, Southern-inflected beats and flows that fans of Rocky will find familiar, but punctuated with more clarity and bite. The A$AP Mob is essentially a crew, a sort of new wave Ruff Ryders with plenty of affiliates all following the lead of Rocky, the group’s signature artist, and A$AP Yams, the ringleader.

Ahead, read a transcript of our wide-ranging discussion with Ferg, who speaks candidly about being an outcast (“people wanted to throw rocks at us”), being influenced by Kurt Cobain, BMX biking and, of course, all things “Trap Lord.”

I’m curious how far in advance you A$AP guys planned the timing and progression of your debuts. I know Yams is highly involved in that, but how does that planning work?

Read the entire interview here ASAP FERG

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