Brock Korsan is a hard guy to pin down. He knows this. Not only is Brock directly involved with the ever-changing, ever-evolving, ever-morphing creative collective known as No Vacancy Inn, but he’s also a seasoned music and fashion industry veteran whose resume reads like a who’s who of street culture. At the time of this interview, Korsan is still slightly hungover from a marathon session in the studio with Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q. As he massages his eyelids, he bears more than a passing resemblance to Jeff Bridges’s Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski — shoulder-length hair, beard, sunglasses, a slightly aloof, semi-stoned smile glued to his face. He speaks about his career as an all-around creative with a rare sense of self-awareness and humility. He jokes that he originally intended for his daily essentials to include only his signature orange beanie. “But I thought that wouldn’t be enough for a post,” he jokes.
HYPEBEAST caught up with Korsan to glean some wisdom on working as a creative, hustling and what he learned from A$AP Yams.
NOTE: This interview took place on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017. Korsan had celebrated Yams Day with the A$AP Mob and others just two nights before.
So to start off, we wanted to bring you in because it looks like you’ve had a crazy year.
Yeah, last year was a crazy year. This year is… getting crazy.
It feels like a dark day today.
Yeah, it’s interesting. I woke up this morning—and I think we all knew it was impending, but waking up and seeing it as real was a shock. They’re calling it the quote-unquote “exchange of power,” and that’s a really freaky term, to even say that. It sounds abusive from the jump. The interesting thing is that prior to today—excluding the whole Trump thing—2017 has such a good energy. It’s a weird juxtaposition of impending doom and everything else is great! Like Migos has the no. 1 record in the country!
The house is on fire but there’s a party inside.
Yeah, or everyone made it out of the house and we’re all standing on the lawn, together.
Going off the events of this week: you’re in town for Yams Day, what was your relationship with him like?
I’ve known Rocky and Yams for a long time, prior to the industry stuff. Calendar, a friend of ours, actually had been putting me onto Rocky’s music. He was a real early champion of Rocky. I met Yams a long time ago and we always had a good relationship. I have text messages from him on my phone that I always go back and look at. He was literally one of the funniest people I had ever met.
He was a real Internet kid, one of the top-tier Internet kids. The vernacular that he gave to the world and spread through all of his socials and just being him—he was really a legend. He really loved this shit, and that’s important to remember because there’s a lot of people that walk around the industry like, (grumpy codger voice) “Ugh, fuck this place. I hate this shit.” And that’s valid, but he loved this shit. It didn’t matter if it was packaged well or just some shit on SoundCloud, he gave everything a chance. He found it and championed it and brought things to the light. You can never hate on that. He knew everybody and he talked to everybody.
I think everyone had their own relationship with him—no two are the same. He was an important dude, not just for the industry, but just for people. He exemplified what it was to be young in society and culture. It’s a heavy loss. And it’s beautiful that people come out and show love and support from everyone that fucked with him and all these artists that he reached out to early on. It’s a sick thing, it’s dope to see Yams Day get bigger every year.
What did you do when you worked at Diamond Supply Co.?
I was director of marketing there back in 2009. When I got there it was a fledgling company with a million dollars in sales, Nick was figuring it out and he had never had a team before; he had just gotten away from distribution. He was creating his empire, and he took it on his own and everyone thought he was gonna fail and he turned it into a lot more than a million dollars. He became one of the major success stories in streetwear, so that was cool. It’s tight and funny because it’s weird to look back on it because I was always into clothes and fashion, streetwear.
With the music relationships and me being somewhat of a stylist by nature, I just made sure that everyone had the right shit, the new shit, getting them off Ecko and urban wear and getting them into skate brands, be it Diamond, Supreme, Crooks, everything that in 2006 was way ahead of the curve. In fairness, those were my friends who I always hung out with. That was an LA scene, the same way New York has its thing. That was just who we were all out with: Nick, Mega, Arson, everybody from what people now know as Fairfax.
How would you describe No Vacancy Inn? Are you a member?
Everyone has a different description of what No Vacancy Inn is. Y’know how Ye’s album is constantly changing? I don’t think No Vacancy Inn is gonna be the same thing from one year to the next. There’s gonna be a clothing aspect of it. Actually, there is and it’s in Dover Street London and Ginza in Japan. I manage them on the DJ side, so No Vacancy Inn’s DJ sets as Tremaine and Acyde, but I’m also a partner in the actual company too.
We all work, we all have our shit that we do: Acyde was at Nike for years, as one of the higher-ups in the marketing division in London. When he was there, in his defense, it’s all this celebrity by default shit where you work for a company that’s poppin’, you have an Instagram, you have a Twitter, all of a sudden it’s connected and you’re poppin’. You’re a celebrity now. He was doing this before that was even a thing, before that even existed. He was just in the time period where that wasn’t the way to go — it wasn’t the sell-yourself era. It was a job. Everybody has been in this for years.
So if you’re a member of that, then you’re an ART DAD by default, right? What does that philosophy mean to you?
Yeah, I guess, yeah! Again, I don’t wanna put words in Tremaine and Acyde’s mouths, but for me, it’s the idea that the youth is wasted on the young. We have this stigma on age in our culture, because it’s always been—and it always will be—about the youth and their angst. But as people in our 30s and 40s, I like where I’m at. I like getting older, I’m not scared of it. It doesn’t mean I’m gonna be less cool. I hang out with my little brother, he’s 18 years old. He and his homies and I have shit in common.
There’s shit I learn from them, there’s shit I learn from me. This is what it’s about. It’s about breaking down ageism—like, maybe there’s shit that I need to be put up on, there’s also things that I can definitely put you up on as a 37-year-old. That’s what it means to me. As you grow, your palette gets more refined. You get intrigued by things that are more compelling in a historical sense.
What are some examples of that?
I fell in love with reading again in the last three years, like a lot of books. I like tangible things, so physical books are important. I recently re-read Let My People Go Surfing and I’m rereading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. And that book’s funny because it’s obvious stuff. Plus, Gucci Mane is a fan of Malcolm Gladwell. I’m reading a book of Kurt Vonnegut shorts that I just keep in my bag with me. He actually wrote all of these stories and sold them to people to fund his first real book. He was selling his ass, man! Whoring himself out.
You’re a huge Big Lebowski fan—how does the Dude’s philosophy guide you in life?
The aesthetic is obviously part of it. But yeah, no, he’s just genius. There’s a way to be aloof and still be present. He teeters that line really well. I appreciate that and the wittiness of it. When you say things just to say things—like Walter Sobchak—you’re just throwing gas on the fire at some point. Walter is a fucking asshole. He fucks everything up. Everyone’s got that friend. I would know, I’ve got like four of them. (Laughs)
Who has your ear right now?
There’s this kid that I really truly believe in, named Quadry from Baton Rouge. The guy is crazy, lyrically. He’s got a crazy voice and a rapping style that’s unlike anything or anybody else. Obviously, Migos. Offset can do no wrong. Everyone’s infatuated with Migos. I remember the first time I heard Migos, [Cinematic Music Group CEO Johnny] Shipes played it for me, “Trappin’ Out The Bando” and I thought it was crazy. They’re just fresh. And Young Thug is one of my favorites. The “Wyclef” video was sooo… I mean, I thank god that the rappers I deal with are punctual, for the most part. I’ve been dealing with rappers, clothing magnates, personalities for a long time and I wait on a lot of people, but that’s the beauty in it. It’s genius. The ability to save all that in the form of a video. It’s a case study.
Everybody knows Leon Bridges, but he’s gonna be massive. I remember hearing him on Facebook mad long ago and hearing his music for the first time while I was trolling shit. Next thing I heard from him, before the Apple Music spot, I wanna say I heard one of his songs on VH1. After the reality shows, it goes mute during the credits and they play a new random song by an artist who maybe just got signed or no one knows. That’s where I hear a lot of great stuff for the first time: I heard Gary Clark Jr.’s “When My Train Comes In” off the Bright Lights EP like that, too. I was living with my girl at the time, so I was watching a lot of reality TV—I didn’t really have a choice.
[speaking to the recorder] Ladies, I’m single now, by the way. (Laughs)