TIME New York

Pot Arrests Plunge in NYC After Policy Change

The policy is working

(NEW YORK) — New York City’s pledge to stop making many marijuana arrests is playing out on the streets, where arrests and summonses for small-time pot possession have plummeted since the policy change this fall.

After a mid-November turn toward violations and summonses instead of misdemeanor arrests for carrying modest amounts of pot, such arrests plunged by 75 percent in December compared to last year, from about 1,820 to 460, according to state Division of Criminal Justice Services statistics obtained by The Associated Press. The November numbers fell 42 percent, from 2,200 to 1,280.

Even summonses have fallen by about 10 percent since the policy change, to 1,180, compared to the same period a year ago, New York Police Department figures show.

“Since the inception of our policy in 2014, marijuana enforcement activity is trending down in all categories” for the bottom-rung marijuana charge, Deputy Chief Kim Royster told the AP.

Critics who decried the once-spiking arrests see the decline as promising. But they say it’s too early to draw lasting conclusions, especially since low-level arrests and summonses of all kinds plummeted for a few weeks after the deadly shootings of two officers Dec. 20.

“Clearly, progress is being made,” but it needs to continue and deepen, said Gabriel Sayegh, the Drug Policy Alliance’s New York state director.

The plunge in arrests caps dramatic shifts in recent years in how the nation’s biggest city polices small amounts of pot.

Arrests for the lowest-level marijuana charge — possession of less than 25 grams, about a sandwich bag full — shot up from about 5,700 in 1995 to 50,700 in 2011, spurring criticism of police tactics and priorities. Then the arrests started declining notably amid public pressure and some police instruction and procedural changes, hitting about 29,000 in 2013.

They were keeping pace this year until November, when de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton announced the new direction. With the sharp fall-off in the last two months, there were about 26,400 marijuana arrests in 2014, down about 9 percent from 2013, the state statistics show.

State law makes it a misdemeanor to have up to 25 grams of marijuana in “public view.” But the mayor said the city was choosing to treat that largely as a non-criminal violation — meaning a summons rather than an arrest, and a potential $100-plus fine instead of a possible three months in jail and a criminal record. (Under a 1977 state law, carrying the same amount of pot out of sight was already a violation, not a misdemeanor.)

Arrests were to continue in some cases, such as when people are allegedly seen smoking the drug in public.

“The law is a law, but what we’re trying to do is approach the enforcement of the law in a smarter way,” de Blasio said in November. Noting that the cases often get dismissed, he said the change would spare police time for more serious matters and spare people arrest records, which can affect public housing eligibility and some other aspects of life even without a conviction.

The head of the rank-and-file officers’ union was cool to the idea, suggesting it could tie officers’ hands in dealing with lawbreakers. But the captains’ union president expressed support for it.

Critics of the arrests suggest the summons strategy isn’t a perfect solution. Multiple marijuana-possession convictions can spur deportation even if the charges are violations — something defendants may not grasp if they decide to plead guilty, thinking the only consequence is a fine, legal advocates say. They also have concerns about how cases will be handled in crowded summons courts.

“A more meaningful change would be to de-emphasize enforcement of non-criminal violations across the board,” the New York Civil Liberties Union said in City Council hearing testimony last month.

But de Blasio put the difference simply when announcing the new policy: “Would you rather be arrested or be given a summons?”

TIME Behind the Photos

The 10 Best Daredevil Rooftopping Photos

These adrenaline seekers are not afraid of heights

Armed with cameras, they climb, often illegally, some of the world’s tallest structures. They’re in search of new sensations — or just new vantage points from which to admire the world.

Their names are Vitaliy Raskalov, Vadim Makhorov, Daniel Lau, Tom Ryaboi, Alexander Remnev and Kirill Oreshkin, and they’re not afraid to appear in the stunning and vertigo-inducing images they snap hundreds of feet above ground, as part of a trend known as rooftopping.

“We were curious to get to where you can’t shoot,” says the Russian duo Raskalov and Makhorov, known as On the Roofs. “With our photos, we try to show people the cities they know, but from unusual angles. From the ground, you can’t see such [things].”

The pair always searches for particularly high buildings — or ones that are highly symbolic — from Shanghai to Cairo, New York to Chicago. “They should offer stunning views,” Raskalov and Makhorov tell TIME. “The quality of our images is also [an important factor]. We use the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 6D. It may seem inconvenient to carry big cameras to such heights, but we’re used to it.”

Despite their newfound fame — many such climbers regularly receive sponsorship deals — Raskalov and Makhorov are still on the hunt for new structures to climb. “It doesn’t affect what we do.”

Myles Little, who edited this photo essay, is an associate photo editor at TIME.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME weather

Listen to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Laugh at Himself by Reading from The Onion

Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, and top city officials hold press conference at the city's Office of Emergency Management, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in New York Bebeto Matthews—AP

Satirical post warns NYC, "All shall meet their death in the coming tempest"

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio injected some self-deprecating humor into the city’s no-snowpocalypse Tuesday with an dramatic reading of an article from The Onion.

The 53-year-old reads, and praises, “NYC Mayor: ‘Reconcile Yourselves With Your God, For All Will Perish In The Tempest,” which pokes fun at his reaction ahead of what was supposed to be a historical blizzard, but ended up as a simple snowstorm.

The mayor had come under criticism for stoking fears that the storm would devastate the Big Apple, which led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights, food runs on supermarkets and the threat of fines for those caught flouting a driving ban.

But despite the unexpectedly benign conditions, de Blasio showed he has the chops to weather a media-storm instead.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: January 27

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Blizzard Skirts New York City

Up to four inches of snow an hour fell in parts of the Northeast early Tuesday as tens of millions of people hunkered down for a historic blizzard that shut down travel – but New York City and Philadelphia escaped the worst of the weather

Taiwan Targets Kids’ Screen Time

Taiwanese parents are now legally obligated to monitor their children’s screen time, in light of a new law allowing the government to impose fines

FBI Nabs Alleged Russian Spy

The FBI on Monday arrested an alleged Russian spy in NYC accused of conducting economic espionage — and his ‘spymasters’ may be to blame

Benedict Cumberbatch Apologizes After Race Row

Benedict Cumberbatch apologized Monday after talking about ‘colored actors’ on a U.S. talk show, ironically during a discussion on the lack of diversity in British acting. The Sherlock star said he’s “devastated to have caused offense”

Obama Pledges $4 Billion of Investment in India

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged $4 billion in investment and loans to India on Monday, soon after attending the South Asian nation’s 66th annual Republic Day celebrations as the guest of honor earlier in the afternoon

‘I’d Probably Do It Again,’ Says Lance Armstrong of Doping

Lance Armstrong claims he would never dope today. But if he had to go back in time, the 43-year-old cyclist who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles would probably do it all over again. “People don’t like to hear that. That’s the honest answer,” he said

The U.S. Is Exonerating More People Than Ever

The U.S. exonerated a record number of people in 2014, according to a new report, continuing a steady increase over the last decade as cultural shifts have made some law enforcement agencies more willing to re-examine long-closed criminal cases

Emma Watson to Play Belle in Beauty and the Beast

The Harry Potter actress’ latest role will be another bookish heroine — Belle in Disney’s new live-action adaptation of the classic fairy tale. “Time to start some singing lessons,” the actress posted on her Facebook page

2 Officers Injured in Minnesota Shooting

A man opened fire on two police officers after a swearing-in ceremony at New Hope city hall in Minnesota on Monday. The shooter, who has not yet been named, was fatally shot after exchanging fire with other officers at the scene

Tomas Berdych Stuns Rafael Nadal in Australian Open

Tomas Berdych ended his 17-match losing streak to Rafael Nadal, stunning the Spaniard to advance to the Australian Open semifinals. Berdych played an impossibly clean match to upend Nadal, who was seeking to advance to his fifth tournament semifinal

Fighting Intensifies in Ukraine

Clashes continued to escalate in Ukraine on Monday after a weekend of fierce fighting and shelling in the country’s southeast rendered a five-month-old peace accord all but dead. Russian President Vladimir Putin blames a “NATO foreign legion” for the war

Former Hollywood Exec Accuses Bill Cosby of Sexual Assault

Cindra Ladd, a former entertainment executive, is the latest woman to publicly accuse the 77-year-old comedian of sexual assault. Ladd kept silent about the incident for 36 years, and says she has no plans to sue or discuss the matter any further

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TIME Justice Department

Sloppy Russian ‘Spymasters’ Burn a Deep Cover Operative in New York

Busted in the Bronx, he faces 20 years in prison.

Monday was a bad day for Evgeny “Zhenya” Buryakov, the alleged spy arrested in the Bronx for his role as a deep cover case officer in a Russian ring targeting female university students, business consultants and the operations of the bank at which Buryakov worked. But it was an even worse day for his alleged spymasters, two Russian officials operating under diplomatic immunity who come across as sloppy, bureaucratic buffoons in the Justice department complaint detailing the alleged conspiracy.

Buryakov nominally faces up to 20 years in prison on two charges of acting as a foreign agent. But practically speaking he will only have to cool his heels in a U.S. jail for a few weeks or months until officials in Moscow find a suitable American operative to arrest and trade for him. Thereafter, he’ll likely return to Moscow, and given what appears to be fairly entrepreneurial work as a deep cover agent in New York, he can probably expect to thrive in the public or private sector there.

His two bosses, on the other hand, broke basic tradecraft rules and exposed Buryakov’s work, as well as other intelligence efforts by the Russian espionage services, according to the complaint. Both have already left the U.S. for other assignments. And while the days of banishment to Siberia for failed spy-handlers are long gone, the two at least face a grim professional future of pushing paper in the bowels of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service in Moscow.

Buryakov was a particularly valuable asset known as a “NOC,” operating under “non-official cover,” according to the complaint. A regular employee of a bank in New York, with no diplomatic immunity, he was able to gain valuable economic intelligence that a Russian government official—even one pretending to be a normal diplomat not a spy—wouldn’t have easy access to, according to the complaint. Placing and maintaining NOC’s is one of the more challenging aspects of running spies in a foreign country.

But Igor Sporyshev, a Russian Trade Representative in New York, and Victor Podobnyy, an attaché to the Russian United Nations mission, managed to expose Buryakov by calling him on an open phone line and by using his true name in a conversation in the New York offices of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Services (SVR) which were apparently being bugged by the FBI’s counterintelligence division.

Even before they outed their deep cover man, the two come across as buffoons in the complaint. In April 2013, the Justice department recounts, Podobnyy tells Sporyshev how disappointed he is at how boring the life a spy runner is, contrasting his life with a James Bond movie. Sporyshev responds that he always “thought that at least I would go abroad with a different passport,” according to the complaint.

The two men also discussed their attempts to recruit young women from a financial consulting firm and from a major university in New York, which a Justice Department official identifies as New York University. Sporyshev blusters that “in order to be close you either need to —k them or use other levers to influence them to execute my requests. So when you tell me about girls, in my experience, it’s very rare that something workable will come of it,” according to the complaint.

But it is in the exposure of the NOC Buryakov that Sporyshev and Podobnyy really shine. First, in May 2013, Sporyshev calls up Buryakov over a phone that was being monitored by the FBI and announces that he needs his help. Sporyshev says a Russian news organization acting on behest of the SVR wants to know what questions to ask a source about the New York Stock Exchange, the complaint claims. Sporyshev says he needs the questions in 15 minutes.

Twenty minutes later, according to the complaint, Buryakov calls back and tells Sporyshev the news organization should ask about how Exchange Traded Funds could be “mechanisms of use for destabilization of markets” (Buryakov has to correct Sporyshev who thinks he says “stabilization”). Buryakov also points Sporyshev towards the issue of automated trading robots, and says he could also ask about the interest of NYSE participants in products tied to the Russia.

Buryakov later shows himself to be entrepreneurial in his efforts. In November 2012 and March 2013, he attended conferences in a foreign country for the bank he worked for, and gathered intelligence about a potential airplane deal that could benefit Russia, the Justice department alleges. The deal was potentially a good one for Russia as it would bring jobs and technology, but unions in the company’s home country were resisting, the complaint says.

Buryakov drafted and submitted to Sporyshev and Pobodnyy a proposal recommending that the SVR’s “Active Measures Directorate” take steps “towards pressuring the unions and securing from the company a solution that is beneficial to us,” according a recording the FBI made of a conversation between the two spy-runners in the SVR offices in late May 2013.

Having a deep cover operative who is capable of getting inside a potential trade deal and is clever enough to see how it might be positively influenced is, despite what movie watchers like Sporyshev and Pobodnyy might think, an unusually fortunate set of circumstances for a spy service. But the bureaucratic Pobodnyy hesitates, according to the complaint, because the action is taking place in the country Buryakov visited for the conference:

VP: It’s strange to offer a [Country-2] proposal from New York.

IS: Why?

VP: It’s considered bad taste. What the —k? Can’t [Country-2] sort this out?

Ultimately, Buryakov’s aggressiveness tripped him up. In the summer of 2014, the complaint alleges, Buryakov met a wealthy investor looking to develop casinos in Russia and willing to trade U.S. Treasury documents he’d obtained from a friend in exchange for help setting up a deal—a plot-line worthy of “American Hustle.” The investor was in fact an undercover FBI agent.

But if Buryakov was naïve, his handlers didn’t do much to protect him. Sporyshev said it sounded like “some sort of a set up. Trap of some sort.” But rather than warning Buryakov off, Sporyshev told him to go ahead and meet an associate of the “investor”: “You will look and decide for yourself.” Later in the summer, Buryakov allegedly received documents purporting to be from the U.S. Treasury regarding sanctions against Russia and passed them along to Sporyshev at a clandestine meeting.

Acting as a foreign agent without registering with the Justice department is a crime in the U.S., as is receiving coded documents and passing them along. And now Buryakov is under arrest.

TIME Food & Drink

These Are the Best New Restaurants in the World

best-new-restaurants-la-bonne-table-tokyo
Tetsuya Miura

In 11 of the world’s most compelling food capitals, neo-traditionalists, upstart iconoclasts, and ingredient obsessives are setting new culinary standards

Turn off Istanbul’s frenetic Istiklal Street, and pull up a seat at Yeni Lokanta, the modern meyhane of the moment. Chef Civan Er’s small plates feature heirloom Turkish foodstuffs like “burnt” Denizli yogurt atop green beans and beef ribs roasted in a wood-burning oven.

In seeking out the best new restaurants, we peripatetic editors at Travel + Leisure were hungry for more than just great meals. We were holding out for locales like Yeni Lokanta that serve up a distinct sense of place—ones that help travelers tap into the essence a destination. Our resulting list of favorites will direct you to the newcomers that are shaping the restaurant scenes in the world’s most exciting food cities.

In Mexico City, for instance, you can get a sampling of all the D.F.’s latest food trends by stopping into the stylishly casual food hall Mercado Roma. Hop from one kitchen to the next, snacking on chile-spiked pozole, clam and chorizo stew, and squid torta.

Philadelphia has become one of America’s most exciting food cities, and you’ll appreciate why after dining at Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook’s Dizengoff, where even the chickpea purées are memorable, especially when topped with zucchini and za’atar.

We found notable restaurants that run the gamut of dining experiences, from a posh new spot in London’s Claridge’s hotel—Fera, an ode to British terroir by star chef Simon Rogan—to a humble noodle joint on a Tokyo backstreet.

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles food revolution that kicked off a few years ago is gathering strength, powered by unrivaled California produce, daring young chefs, a United Nations of ethnic cuisines, and, yes, a dash of Hollywood glamour. While most TV celebrity chefs are peddling overpriced comfort food, Curtis Stone, the Australian heartthrob ofTop Chef Masters fame, has caused a sensation with his thoughtful and utterly original Maude, in Beverly Hills. In the chic, rustic space, Stone presents multicourse market menus themed around a single ingredient. Fall pears show up as “snow” atop briny oysters and as a gelée highlighting a veal cheek; in winter he celebrates citrus with tangerine-glazed chicken terrine. We love the tables, set with vintage silver and china and inspired by the kitchen of Curtis’s own grandmother, Maude. Among the city’s rising stars: Kris Yenbamroong, the Thai wunderkind with an NYU film degree, who counted the likes of René Redzepi and Wylie Dufresne among fans of his pop-up dinners. At Night & Market Song, his permanent Silver Lake digs (both spare and ironically garish), he presents hyper-vivid, authentic northern Thai dishes like grilled pork neck with a bracingly spicy jaew chile dip, and hor ab, an intensely aromatic tamale of catfish and pork fat in a banana-leaf bundle. Along La Brea Avenue, the soaring 1929 building that housed onetime celebrity haunt Campanile has been reborn as the even more gorgeous République. Headed by Walter and Margarita Manzke, the brasserie stays open around the clock, whether for an early-morning blood-orange brioche or a late-night negroni blanc, scrambled eggs with sea urchin on toast, and the best frites west of Paris.

Istanbul

This megalopolis has always charmed us with its mix of waterside fish restaurants, smoky kebab joints, and drinking dens known as meyhanes serving sumptuous meze. But lately, local chefs and glamorous out-of-towners alike have been invigorating the restaurant scene. Massimo Bottura, Italy’s most famous chef, debuted his first outpost, Ristorante Italia, at the posh Zorlu shopping center. Instead of reprising hits from his avant-garde Osteria Francescana in Modena, the chef presents thoughtful distillations of pan-Italian classics: an osso buco cooked at a super-low temperature for 25 hours with bone marrow enriching the sauce, or a deconstructed tiramisu so light it practically floats off the table. Off frenetic Istiklal Street, tile-clad Yeni Lokanta is the modern meyhane of the moment. We’re dazzled by chef Civan Er’s small plates, updated with heirloom foodstuffs like “burnt” Denizli yogurt atop green beans, walnut-studded sucuk sausage, and beef ribs roasted in a wood-burning oven. And in the gentrifying Balat district, Turkish film director Ezel Akay has resurrected the iconic 125-year-old Agora Meyhanesi, where raki flows once again and the herb- and pomegranate-laced salads, flash-fried petals of liver, and sizzling squid set a new standard for meze.

New York City

Though the city’s high-voltage restaurant scene assures thrills for all wallets and moods, our favorites now are places with focused menus and big personalities. Downtown glamour meets uptown polish—with nostalgic echoes of Mitteleuropa—at Bâtard, from über-host Drew Nieporent and Austrian chef Markus Glocker. An octopus “pastrami,” bewitched into a Gaudí-like mosaic terrine, and hand-pulled strudel filled with apples, raisins, and sweetbreads are among Glocker’s assured neoclassical dishes. Having first triumphed in Tokyo, the Long Island–born noodle master Ivan Orkin set up the lively Ivan Ramen on Clinton Street, where he creates witty Japanese-American mash-ups like Amish-scrapple waffles masquerading as okonomiyaki pancakes. Which dish wins? It’s a toss-up between the triple-garlic, triple-pork mazemen, with compulsively slurpable whole-wheat noodles, and the rye-enriched ramen in a sinus-clearing red-chili broth. In the East Village, Huertas, a Basque gem from two young veterans of the Danny Meyer hospitality school, seduced us with its enticing tapas—plush jamón croquetas, adorable shrimp-and-egg canapés—as well as chef Jonah Miller’s tasting menu, with its earthy-sweet pairing of cockles and wild mushrooms, and suckling pig served with an Asturian bean-and-chorizo stew. Meanwhile, Danny Meyer himself has an instant classic, the new Roman-themed Marta. It’s the convivial scene behind the long marble counter that wooed us, along with the wafer-thin pizzas and perfectly grilled lamb chops. And isn’t it nice to bond with a stranger over glasses of Fruilian Ribola Gialla?

Mexico City

Ever since the avant-garde fireworks at restaurants like Quintonil and Pujol established Mexico City as one of the world’s top food destinations, the D.F. has been looking inward, with humbler cooking that explores the country’s own food traditions. Alejandro Ruiz, the powerhouse chef from Oaxaca who revitalized that region’s food scene, opened Guzina Oaxaca in Polanco. His menu is both anthropological and sensual, with dishes like caldo de piedra, a pre-Hispanic shrimp soup cooked over hot river rocks and perfumed with anise-y hoja santa and epazote. In gentrifying Zona Rosa, behind the cheery turquoise façade of De Mar a Mar, seafood whisked in from Baja and Puerto Ángel is the star of the menu devised by Pujol-trained Eduardo García. Everything at this lovable urban beach shack is so tasty it’s impossible to stop ordering more sashimiesque tuna laminado and sweet battered shrimp folded into hand-patted tortillas. To try everything that’s going on in the city at once, head to Colonia Roma. It’s a blast perching on stools and sampling from each kitchen at Mercado Roma: chile-intensive pozole from José Guadalupe, a stew of pristine Pacific coast clams and chorizo from La Ahumadora, and La Barraca Valenciana’s squid torta with garlicky mayo created by El Bulli veteran José Miguel Garcia.

Sydney

Australia’s largest metropolis may have a reputation for the big, the obvious, and the showy, but the city’s restaurants have recently taken a turn toward the small, the unusual, and the understated. Mitch Orr, an alumnus of Italy’s vaunted Osteria Francescana, creates house-made pastas at Acme and prepares them in ways your nonna never imagined. That might mean linguine given a wok-like scorch with black garlic and burnt chiles or Filipino-inspired vinegar-tangy pork topped with a raw yolk and paired with immaculate hand-cut macaroni. In Redfern, a neighborhood on the rise, Eun Hee An and Ben Sears have traded the white tablecloths of their fine-dining backgrounds for spare furnishings and concrete floors at Moon Park. What the restaurant may lack in design it more than makes up for with its witty reimagining of Korean cuisine. Is that a glimmer of Scandinavia in that ssäm wrap of smoked eel and puffed rice presented on a nasturtium leaf? Or in the classic pajeon pancake topped by tufts of mackerel “floss”? In another nod to the Far East, the rambunctious, izakaya-inspired Cho Cho San is Sydney’s love letter to Japan: chef Nic Wong’s lamb cutlets are spiked with sancho pepper, and the gingery tatakiis made with prime Australian beef. Sydney’s go-to restaurant of the moment is inarguably Ester, a low-key spot where Mat Lindsay coaxes morsels of surprising elegance and originality from his wood-fired oven: lobster sausage on steamed bread updates the classic Aussie sausage sandwich with great success, not least when it’s paired with Si Vintners’ lovely pale Pinot Noir Rosé.

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME

Man Shoots Himself Outside News Corp. Building in New York

The building houses Fox News, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal

(NEW YORK) — Police say a man has apparently shot himself to death outside the News Corp. building in midtown Manhattan.

The 41-year-old man died after the shooting at about 9 a.m. Monday.

Authorities aren’t certain what prompted the shooting, which occurred outside the building that houses Fox News, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal. The media conglomerate News Corp. is controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

It’s not clear if the man had any ties to News Corp. or if he was just standing outside the building.

A weapon was recovered at the scene, and no one else was injured.

Traffic was snarled in Midtown as police investigated.

TIME weather

Northeast Storm Strengthens After Dumping Snow on Millions

Nor'easter Storm Brings Light Snow To New York
A man takes a picture of ducks and geese at a lake in Brooklyn's Prospect Park following an evening storm on Jan. 24, 2015 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

Millions across the Northeast woke up to a blanket of white Saturday morning after an overnight storm, which was expected to last through the day, dropped several inches of snow in some parts. By Saturday afternoon, New England was experiencing the brunt of the storm, with the largest accumulation falling in Hartford County, Connecticut, which had 8 inches by 1 p.m. Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts could also expect 6 to 10 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Those areas can also expect to be hit with gusty winds.

The “front-end” of the storm delivered up to 9 inches of powder in areas of Connecticut and New Jersey…

Read the rest of the story from our partner NBCNews.com

TIME Music

Hip-Hop Label Boss A$AP Yams Has Died at Age 26

BET's 106 & Park With A$AP Mob, Schoolboy Q and Flo Rida
A$AP Yams visits BET's 106 & Park at BET Studios on July 15, 2013 in New York City. John Ricard — Getty Images

The rap community has been airing its shock and sadness

The brains behind Harlem’s critically acclaimed rap collective A$AP Mob, Steve Rodriguez — who was popularly known as A$AP Yams — has died.

The circumstances around Rodriguez’s death have not yet been made public. He was 26.

Yams was the co-owner of the A$AP Worldwide label, which helped launch and promote the careers of fellow A$AP Mob members, A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg.

“As one of the creative forces behind A$AP Worldwide, Yams’ vision, humor and dedication to the members of A$AP Mob will always be remembered. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” read a statement released by RCA Records.

The label executive kept a considerably lower profile than his peers in the collective, a position he appeared to enjoy.

“Rocky’s like Luke Skywalker, and I’m Yoda,” Yams told the New York Times during an interview published in 2013.

Members of the A$AP collective and fellow hip-hop stars aired their condolences via social media after news of Yam’s death surfaced on Sunday.

R.I.P YAMS, I LOVE YOU BROTHER

A photo posted by PRETTY FLACKO (@asvpxrocky) on

ALWAYS STRIVE AND PROSPER. RIP YAMS

A photo posted by A$AP Mob (@asapmob) on

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