Office Hours with Ernest Wilkins
Office Hours with Ernest Wilkins
#149: Long Live A$AP Yams

#149: Long Live A$AP Yams


(Chad Batka/Getty Images)

Chicago changed rap music and rap culture forever in 2012. That’s a fact, not an opinion.

Given the legacy and reach of drill music alone since then, it’s not up for debate at this point. Don’t believe me? Go back and look at Barber’s “10 new Chicago rappers to watch” Complex list from Feb 2012.

If you’ve listened to rap the last 5+ years, you prob recognize EVERY artist (or crew affiliate) on there.

Way back when, I used to co-host a podcast with Andrew Barber and David Drake.

It was called Disrespectful Radio.

(The Disrespectful Radio logo was done by none other than Hebru Brantley. Nuts when you think about it, right?)

For those that weren’t around during that time, I tell people often that I cannot explain how weird that year was from a media perspective. Everyone covering music locally that year — me, Barber, Driz, Garvey, Leor, Britt, RTC, Ty and a lot of other folks — were thrown first-hand into a local cultural phenomenon that went national, called drill music. You may have heard of it.

This is pre-Lyrical Lemonade, so we literally were the first media brands based here getting interviews, features and face time with the now-legends of that era. It’s kind of surreal, considering how many kids look up to that DJ Kenn, Pacman(RIP), Chief Keef, Lil’ Durk, Lil’ Reese, Bibby, Herbo, Fredo Santana(RIP), etc generation now.

It’s crazy to realize how much of this stuff was happening for the first time ever.

For example, did you know that the first Chief Keef interview from a media came from my team at Redeye Chicago? The NYT had to use our pics because there weren’t any other images of Keef available online.

Did you know that Barber and Ty threw the first Herbo and Bibby show EVER?

Hell, Driz is likely the reason that Chief Keef went from internet punchline to respected cultural innovator among rap writers, even if he gets teased about it.

The pod only ran 14 episodes, but we got a lot done in a little amount of time. Guests of DR included: 

…and A$AP Yams.

When Yams died in January 2015 at the age of 26, the Blog Era died. His work as a A&R, influencer, and overall FAN of rap music gave us (obviously) the work of the A$AP Mob (Rocky, Ferg, Ant, etc), but he had his hand in bringing a lot of acts to a broader audience.

I’ll go as far to say that Yams work on RNT (RealNiggaTumblr) is the missing link between the Blog Era and the Soundcloud Rap wave.

Unfortunately, because of how the Blog Era ended, with the venture capitalists and shitty bosses, lack of archiving and overall bad treatment…a lot of the history of that era is now gone, including almost every episode of Disrespectful Radio…until today.

In honor of Yams birthday today, I’m releasing our interview with him from 2012. This is the first time this episode has been posted anywhere in full since it dropped and is likely the first time a large majority of people will have ever heard this interview.

Now, I do need to go ahead and call out one thing that hasn’t aged well: Our conversations in this episode about R. Kelly.

For context, this is the year before buddy played Pitchfork so he had yet to be canceled, but given how long he was out here being horrible, I want to be accountable to younger readers.

ALL of our views have changed on R. Kelly since 2012 with access to more info, so nothing in this podcast should be taken as support or admiration for R. Kelly now. Honestly, fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

Highlights of this episodes include:

  • A very…long convo about Canibus?

  • Me doing dramatic readings of Yams tweets to Yams.

  • Yams outlining the difference between rap fans online and rap fans IRL 

  • Hearing Yams voice again. Made me really emotional.

Hope you enjoy this little nugget of Blog Era history. As a bonus, since a lot of people might not remember that Yams mix/playlist game was A+++, here’s all of his mixes that are still available online.


RIP King Von.

Since his murder last week, I cannot stop thinking about O Block and Odee Perry and Lil’ Durk and Nunu and where Von’s “Grandson” nickname came from.

It’s wild to think that Chicago streets have lost leadership for 60 straight years and counting. How the fuck can anybody ever expect these kids to change anything when the problem is 40+ years older than they are?

On a much brighter note, new Simpson!!!! 

She has the best “Life in COVID” song of 2020 so far…

AND a song that sounds destined for the opening of a 2040’s teen sex comedy!

I’m all-in on her.


"Watching your house shift overnight and your old software buddies turn to skeletons is part of digital life. Like all aspects of marketing and the entire concept of capitalist markets, digital measurement is full of ghosts and sprits, inaccuracies and faux trends, shady attempts at attribution models, trackers that we don’t understand, different sets of numbers from one tool to the next.

The best content marketers and publishers can do is understand the core software we’re working with — and the methods and theory behind it —and use it to make better decisions about how we create and distribute content.” 

If you work in marketing and haven’t upgraded to Google Analytics 4 yet, yet another badass Midwesterner Deborah Carver makes the strongest case possible for why you should set it up ASAP. If you are a creative that wants to win in the future, you need to know how the tech world affects what you make. Subscribe to the Creative Technologist, Deborah is amazing at taking high-level concepts and translating them without making you feel stupid, which feels like a rarity in the tech newsletter world.

The brand new Google Analytics 4 and what it means for content analysts (The Content Technologist)


Janitors, we have homework to do this weekend!

Do you know who represents your political interests where you live?

I don’t mean who you voted for last week, but the people who are responsible for making sure your trash gets picked up. I’m not embarrassed to say that I used to be one of those “only pay attention for major elections” people but that’s just laziness.

This weekend, I’m going up the ladder. I want to know who my representatives are, from my ward in Chicago all the way to the White House. Do the same where you live!


Did you know that for less than it costs to get bad Thai food delivery, you can support an independent media startup?

Become a paid supporter of Office Hours with Ernest Wilkins on an ongoing basis today. $7 a month or $75 a year.

Can’t do a paid subscription right now? Consider showing your support for my work with a one-time donation!

Support my work!

Office Hours with Ernest Wilkins is written and curated by Ernest Wilkins in Chicago, Illinois.

Follow me on Twitter/Clubhouse/IG @ErnestWilkins.

Want to work with me? Send me an e-mail.

Office Hours with Ernest Wilkins
Office Hours with Ernest Wilkins
Office Hours Magazine is a new take on the B2B publication, focusing on the business of cultural industries.