Yams Day is damn near a Hip-Hop holiday at this point, with the entire A$AP Mob turning up for one night in celebration the group’s late head honcho, A$AP Yams.
Credited with being the glue that brought the group together in the first place, Steven Rodriguez was a wildfire personality that unfortunately saw his flame put out due to an accidental death by overdose on January 18, 2015. Now, exactly five years after his death, it’s clear that the moniker “A$AP Yams” will only grow in notoriety as long as A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg and the entire Mob continue to keep his legacy alive like they successfully did last Friday (January 17) for Yams Day 2020.
The scene at Barclays Center was jaw-dropping, especially given how brick it was in New York City that evening. Every single entrance was packed, and being a fancy-ass (OK, far from fancy, but still!) writer for HNHH, I figured I could get in through the “artist” entrance. That was not the case — I had a ticket in a good seat, but a GA ticket nonetheless — and I ended up getting in through the VIP entrance. However, it was beyond interesting to watch some the people getting in this door for the 20 minutes they had us waiting: Solange’s baby daddy was right behind me, notorious “anti-Supreme” bully YMBAPE had no problems getting in with an entourage hood dudes and, course, groupies galore! However, it wasn’t until 12-year-old “Clout” rapper Bouba Savage arrived — he became a viral meme later that night when Rocky literally tossed him f the stage into the mosh pit — and put all us old heads to shame. Not only did this pre-teen emcee pull up with mad heads, but he also waiting zero time to get in and was screaming at the top his lungs, “Let them in! Let all my people in!” I knew from there it was about to be one unforgettable night.
I got in just as Bun B was running through his set. Walking in to “Big Pimpin” blaring through Barclays was a vibe I can barely explain, but it was without a doubt what you’d want to be doing on a Friday evening in Brooklyn. The stage setup was insane: a bull head with glowing eyes in the middle the main stage, which extended a runway-style platform into an actual wresting ring that had real wrestlers going at it in the middle each performance. The people on the surrounding floor looked like a sea talking heads, each filled with the excitement and vitality that comes with being surrounded by such energy.
Pi’erre Bourne hit the stage soon after, who had just traveled from an in-store performance/fan signing in the Lower East Side at a clothing store called PRIVILEGE New York. The rock star life can see you moving from spot to spot in a matter hours, and I gained a huge respect for Pi’erre seeing him kill it for an intimate crowd diehard fans as comfortably as he did on a grand stage like the one at Barclays. His set was also particularly special because that’s when A$AP Rocky decided to make his entrance by crowd surfing his way to the ring. It goes without saying, but pandemonium ensued afterwards.
From there, tons random moments started happening. Lil Yachty pulled up for DJ duties for a bit, Smoove L captivated the whole crowd with “OUU AHH”/”BIG MAD” and ICYTWAT and his crew had the entire building shaking with “THOTTWAT” just to name a few. The entire Mob filled the wrestling ring in between sets to keep the energy going, but the momentum was on such a high (literally!) that it was impossible to wane down the level energy given f by the entire venue.
Top performers the night included Nav, Young M.A., Casanova and even2 Chainz hitting the stage before a touching speech by Yams’ mom, Tatianna Paulino, to acknowledge those involved for keeping her son’s legacy alive and at the forefront New York City’s biggest rap movement and collective in a very long time. It was, without getting too emotional or corny, one the most beautiful examples finding a silver lining in what has obviously been a dark cloud over her head for the past five years.
The biggest surprises the night were reserved for the very end, even though Ferg debuting his new red hairdo and looking like a big pack Now and Later candy was shocking in itself. After ending things with the posse cut we’d all been waiting to hear all night — the “Yamborghini High” turn-up was real! — Rocky brought out Tyler, The Creator in the very final moment the show to do a closing encore that had fans screaming well after the “take your ass home” lights came on. Also, in a wild turn events, both Drake and Rihanna (!!!) were backstage for the sole reason honoring Yams and didn’t even touch the main stage.
Overall, we can only hope that Yams Day 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond continues to be as lit as it’s been annually for the past half a decade. Keep scrolling for a full photo recap Yams Day 2020 below. Rest in peace forever, Yams.
All photos provided by @TimStype exclusively for HotNewHipHop.