For our Fearless Now video with Ai Weiwei and A$AP Rocky, the two artists were asked about themselves, their work and, by extension, the social and political churn that defines our current moment. The interviews with Ai Weiwei, 60, and A$AP Rocky, 29, unspooled from a core question: What does it mean to be fearless? Unsurprisingly, their resulting responses are fascinating. The full transcripts are brimming with insights that exceed the video format. So, we have chosen a few notable outtakes on topics such as social media, their views of future and New York City that fill out the picture of these two creative powerhouses.
I'm not very conscious of when I stared to make art. Early on, you do something that you think maybe could be art, but art always has to be recognized as art. Most of my early work was thrown away by my mom, because it took up so much space. —AI WEIWEI
I started rapping at the age of eight, and it stuck with me. My older brother encouraged me, and I’ve been doing it ever since. It was natural. —A$AP ROCKY
Social media is probably the most important tool humans ever created, because for the first time in human history, you can structure your knowledge and communicate efficiently with another person. Technology freed us from the old structure. —AI WEIWEI
I’m on the fence about social media. It could be our downfall. Too much of anything is bad for you, and I'm almost sure everybody has too much social media going on in their lives right now. —A$AP ROCKY
New York is everything. I can't really describe it in just a sentence or two.
NEW YORK CITY:
I spent my youth in New York. It's a crazy city. I don't think there will be another city like that. The city is mad of course, at times exciting and sexy, but there are a lot of inhuman conditions. It's always mixed. —AI WEIWEI
New York is everything. I can't really describe it in just a sentence or two. It’s gonna take me all day to say how I truly feel. To make a long story short, New York is the shit, it's where I'm from. —A$AP ROCKY
I regret that I will never be a sporty person. Sport is so beautiful. But I just lost that nature. —AI WEIWEI
I don’t fuck with sports at all, but it’s art though. —A$AP ROCKY
Two years ago I started making Human Flow, a film about refugees. My new book, Humanity, is one more step in communicating that issue to more people. ‘Humanity’ requires everybody to be involved, because in the end, everybody will benefit. —AI WEIWEI
My Testing project is about the way I see life, the way I see hip-hop. I'm testing everything – sounds, release dates, everything. I know fans are pissed with me right now. They always tell me, "Hurry up. Where's the album?” It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s all part of a bigger plan. —A$AP ROCKY
I'm always an outsider, no matter what.
I’m not very optimistic about our future. But life itself is a miracle and we will still never have enough appreciation for life. —AI WEIWEI
…[B]ringing culture together and bridging gaps. I want to see more of that, especially diversity, in the future. —A$AP ROCKY
AT THE END OF THE DAY:
I'm always an outsider, no matter what. —AI WEIWEI
I'm just a poetic young man, trying to express myself. —A$AP ROCKY