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Upfront: A$AP Twelvyy is stepping to the front

From last year being broke to first year being rich

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A$AP Twelvyy self prophesised his ‘Last Year Being Broke’ in 2016 but it’s the release of his debut album12 that has him talking about his “first year being rich”. One of the original members of A$AP Mob, Twelvyy has often taken a backseat, letting Rocky and Ferg take the lead. With countless tour supports and features Twelvyy’s album is an incredible culmination of all the lessons he’s learnt over the years–a testament to his growth as well as a tribute to A$AP Yams.

Hailing from the streets of Harlem, Twelvyy proudly represents his city throughout 12. His brothers from A$AP Mob all feature heavily on the album. In between stories of violence, losing one’s innocence and the projects he is infectiously joyful. One of the best moments on the album is on ‘Hop Out’ with A$AP Ferg where Twelvyy matches his flow with a brotherly playfulness. Twelvyy does feel like the little brother of the crew who has found his footing but after we spoke on the phone it seems that rather than having found his way, he’s just found the right time. Timing is everything and with the spotlight finally on Twelvvy he is ready to embrace it. “I want the people to get to know me, I want to get the know people, I want to know how they feel about me, I want to know what’s up.”

You’ve been in the background of A$AP Mob for a while, being a hype man and supporting everyone’s tours, but now you’re in the spotlight. How are you dealing with it?

I’m feeling great; I gotta do the best with it. All my brothers and my peers who gave me opportunities to go on tour and do features on their records, they shared the spotlight they were never stingey about it. They showed me the grapes and let me taste them—the life is the life and I’m excited. I appreciate the journey and the time I’ve had staying back, having one foot in and one foot out. It’s been good to be the man among the people; you could hear the stories, feel the heartbeat. It definitely wasn’t rushed.

It was anything but rushed but it’s out now and 12 is almost two weeks old.

Two weeks young!

My bad, you’re right.

[Laughs] It’s okay. I’m excited that it’s out, it’s very infectious at the moment because everybody that’s been exposed to it is loving it and its given me the confidence to keep going, to keep telling the truth, and giving it my all, bless my fans. Two weeks, it feels like a year already. Like yo! Damn I’m already ready to put out another tape [laughs]. Seriously I’m loving it, the reception has been beautiful and I haven’t even been on tour yet to perform the shows live you know? This project, 12, is everlasting.

Some people do, some people don’t—but have you read your Wikipedia?

Nah, I don’t.

Well even your Wikipedia was out here emphasizing that the album “finally” came out this year. Everyone has been waiting on you.

[Laughs] There are a lot of people that never get to see the light of day, it’s energy there that’s like, “oh he was never coming out but he did it!” And I’m impressed and so proud. I like that people counted me out or doubted me. I’m happy that people even waited for me, it’s exciting. Some people write you off, some people still don’t believe and I’m going to make them believe.

Wikipedia said “finally”? Bet, I’m going to need to update that [laughs] with the rebirth, the reawakening.

The album feels like a tribute to Yams. You once said when he passed away you couldn’t listen to music let alone bear to make it.

It’s great because now I get to discover music, I get to really enjoy music for what it’s really worth. Sometimes I see people liking music because it’s a trend or because it’s hot, you know? I listen to music because I love music and I can tell by music that’s out sometimes that people don’t put enough time into their craft and that’s something Yams showed me. You got to take time and really work into your craft and your art and lots of people are out here rushing records so they can be successful and not really put into their life or love into it.

So now that I have a chance I want to represent the love the real passion the time that you take, the loss, the gain, the whole evolution of yourself, the journey of finding yourself, the knowledge of yourself. That’s what I found and discovered on 12—I found out who I am not just for the listeners but for me too. This is a great milestone because now it’s opening my eyes to who I really am. I’m a person with a voice for a generation who can really help. Shout out to Yams for showing me.

When was the last time you were really broke? And what does L.Y.B.B. mean to you?

I’m not a millionaire so I’m broke right now, you know what I’m saying? [Laughs] So right now. Even when I get a million that’s not enough. How much money is enough money? How many corporations until you’re satisfied? A cat like me, I love to work, I love to hustle. I need something to do. I got 12 jobs, that’s good for me. It keeps me motivated, it keeps me hungry. L.Y.B.B. isn’t just about my last year being broke, it’s my last year being beatable. I want to win! I want everybody around me to win. It’s our last year being bullied, because you know we out here being bullied by the system, bullied by a lot of things. We’re bullied by negative energy, negative comments—we’re bullied by a lot! I just want everyone to levitate with me, have that mantra with me; lets come to this agreement that it’s our last year taking any of this bullshit. We’re going to evolve to the point where we’re unstoppable. I just want to preach positive thoughts to everybody. I’m all about that first year being rich. First year being wealthy.

You talk a lot about positivity and relaying truth to the kids, where does that come from?

It comes from me being a confused youth. I had my parents and they tried to show me the best way they could. Even growing up in the projects as a child, as a teenager you go on your own path. You don’t listen to what your parents have to say. You don’t have so many role models. I’m showing you the difference. I was burnt out, bad at school. I was getting in trouble. I lost fights, I won fights, I lost money, I won money, I made my mother proud, I disappointed her. You gotta live, it’s not easy and nothing is given to us. I wanna show youths, and really everyone that you can have it and I’m not there yet but you can dream and now I see it and feel it and I’m going to get it. I dropped 12 so I could have fun now. Sometimes I make stuff so nobody else gotta go through it. I talk about it so you don’t have to be in that situation. I can show you better than I can tell you and I’m here showing you change.

When you were making 12, did you feel pressure to make a New York album?

I’m making the music I was destined to make, I don’t think about it like that. I’m on a frequency of making music that I don’t hear, so if I don’t hear it I’m more incline dot make it. It’s the same with my bros, like with ‘Feels So Good’ that don’t sound like nothing that’s out no matter what they compare it to. All these haters are going to compare, but it sounds like nothing that’s out. We’re all on different wavelengths.

What’s it like being in A$AP Mob right now?

Sometimes we argue because we’re brothers. If you don’t argue with your brothers who you going to argue with? We put pressure on each other because we all want each other to be dinin, pressure is dinin, we always putting pressure on each other. It’s like we’re in the gym. We’re pit bulls—we’re all going at it. It’s friendly competition and we’re all making each other better.

A$AP Twelvyy’s debut album ‘12‘ is out now.

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