A$AP Twelvyy: The Epitome of Betting on Yourself

“I just like to let the kids know that this shit is authentic and it’s real. The dreams always come with nightmares. I’ve been down bad before, so I know what it’s like to get up.”

-A$AP Twelvyy

The rate at just how fast the game moves can be mind blowing at times. It seems like it was just yesterday when everyone was bragging about how much they wanted to be signed to major records, and now a lot of artists are preaching about independency. The art of making your own and owning your own art is something that is being highly praised right now–even to the point of some of the major artists are threatening to leave their labels and go down the independent trail. That’s not to disrespect the artists who are currently signed to major labels and are doing their thing. There are definitely some labels out there that will take care of their artists and mean the best to their artists that are on the label. However, there are also a lot of artists who are currently in bad record deals, receiving terrible splits, and overall not getting the push that they deserve from their label they are signed to. For A$AP Twelvyy, he’s seen a lot, and he is one of the most recent artists to leave their major and go full Indie.

Having a career that spans almost ten years long, Twelvyy is back and more rejuvenated than ever before. Claiming that he feels “like Lebron” in the game, he is ready to show the world jsut what he  can do as an independent artist–releasing music and visuals all on his own. The beauty of this independent rebrand that he is on, is the amount of confidence that he boasts. Still being a part of the A$AP Mob, Twelvyy is ready to show the world just what he can do. Not phased by the new “standards” of streaming and Billboard Charts, but only influenced by real music and pure artistry.

I was fortunate enough to sit back and have a conversation with him to learn more about his journey thus far, hardships he experienced, his path to independency, his brand new album Noon Yung under his new label “Last Year Being Broke(n)”, and so much more. Read our conversation in full below!

 


 

We first heard you debut in the game way back in 2011 on “Trilla” with Rocky. How are you feeling about your career and the direction it’s headed since then?

TWELVYY: I came a long way bro. It’s fantastic to know that there’s been an evolution with this shit because I could never dream about my career being this great as it is. To come this far, it’s just a blessing. It’s a blessing that I still want to do it and do it at this capacity. I feel like Lebron in this shit to be in the game for so long and still dominating. I feel like I’m young and can still move how I want to move, and at the same time I feel like I still haven’t had my welcoming into the game. I had a couple time where I wasn’t really jacking the game like that and I had to fall back sometimes. I feel better about it now than I did ten years ago though. Ten years ago, I didn’t really know where this thing was headed.

Back then, I just feel like my career was moving at an accelerated speed. It was more so about me just being a part of a collective and a movement, and not really knowing the ins and outs like I should–I wasn’t really informed about what I would need as a solo artist. I just really had to take my time and really learn about how things go as a solo artist. With A$AP Rocky, that was a unique situation—not everybody can blow up like that and have that type of parade, you feel me?

Out of everyone in A$AP Mob, I feel like you’re one of the most underrated artists. Why do you think that is?

TWELVYY: I would say first and foremost, my promotion may not have been the best. I think that everybody has different types of machines behind then that push things, and I never really had a marketer to promote my music. I did it straight from the ground up like an independent. For me, it was like whoever sees it, sees it. The people in my circle are the ones that have been grinding and working just as hard as me, so they see the growth and the progress. Other people may not really move like that and they want to be in the spotlight and seen and all of that. With me, I got the mindset of a construction worker and I build this thing from the ground up—I don’t show out for the internet, I’m about the grind.

I think that’s a great point, because if you look online now, it looks like everybody is popping, but you don’t seem like you do it for the internet.

TWELVYY: When you go on Instagram now, I feel like you don’t really get to see a lot of people’s come up anymore. You see the diamonds, cars and girls, and that’s cool if you do that. For me, that’s like shit for the weekend. You may see that shit on a Saturday night for me, but who wants to show that every single day? You drinking every day, you got to worry about your liver. You are smoking every day, you got to worry about your bone density. I just don’t like to feed fabrication part of it. We are kids that come from predicaments where we don’t know music theory, we don’t know how to play instruments—we really making something out of nothing. It’s just different. I just like to let the kids know that this shit is authentic and it’s real. The dreams always come with nightmares. I’ve been down bad before, so I know what it’s like to get up.

What were some of those low moments in life that you had, and did they ever discourage you from making music at all?

TWELVYY: Man, I had an inguinal hernia surgery—that fucked me up for well over two years. I was traveling too at the time and on your so that really put a lot of pressure and pain on my body. I had a super wack record deal at the time. I had a manager at the time, and he was okay, but we just didn’t see the same vision anymore. I can’t fault him though—it was business and never personal. It’s like Anthony Davis on the Pelicans and Anthony Davis on the Lakers. It’s the same player, but the system is different. That different system is gonna bring better shit out of you. Even with this conversation—Kalika, my publicist has been doing an amazing job just showing me different things that I wasn’t seeing before. Opening doors and opening opportunities for me.  Street shit that was going on at the time kind of made me have to relax for a bit too.

What were some of the high moments you experienced in your career?

TWELVYY: Touring for sure—being able to go on tour is one of the things I love about this shit. Getting out of my deal also—that was probably one of the biggest highlights of my career thus far. Getting out the deal and going independent. It’s a blessing to put out music on a major, but in all honesty, that major is gonna use you until they can’t use you anymore. Like why give all these other people a percentage of the art you created yourself? They can’t tell your story for you. They don’t speak the language that we speak, and they don’t understand where we come from. How can you tell me what’s fire? I just don’t rock with that no more, and I love the fact that I can be independent now and do my own thing when I want to.

I think a lot of artists are starting to recognize the importance of going indie and seeing just how much leverage they have when it comes to the music. What do you see the industry being like if everyone went independent?

TWELVYY: I think we all will finally have a peace mind. Being with a major drove me crazy—like I lost my best friend in this shit. I lost a lot of my closest relationships in my life coming from a fucking record deal, you feel me? It’s like damn this shit is really fucking up my life to be honest. I just think we will all be at peace. I don’t think we should all be giving up something we worked so hard for to somebody else. Looking at mental health too like it can be really difficult depending on your situation. It would just be a whole lot better and happier if we all went independent.

One thing that I can tell from the way you rap, is that you’re really influenced by a lot of legacy acts. Who are some of the people that inspired you or you came up listening to?

TWELVYY: I consider myself really a connoisseur of the game, so a lot of the legacy acts inspire me. It’s crazy cause the other day, Snoop Dogg was on Instagram listening to SNL. I used to look up to him like crazy growing up. 2 Pac, NWA, Dr. Dre, Nas, Stack Bundles, Fat Joe, Big L, Outkast, Camron. I love music and I’m a fan of music, so I study all parts of the game. Me being so diverse musically makes it easier for me to gravitate to new ideas as well, you know. I can rap here, I can harmonize here, and I could do some off the wall type shit over here too.

What would you say some of your biggest strengths are as a rapper?

TWELVYY: Being in control of my own narrative. I read a lot of books, so I know how to brig the intellectual aspect into my music. I know how to tell stories. I can craft flows that ain’t even supposed to be together and make it work. I can see a song now from start to finish. One thing A$AP Ferg taught me was getting into the habit of finish songs—no more one verse here and there type shit. Verse-hook-verse. I’m in a machine mode now. Turned my album in to myself and I ain’t have to turn it in to nobody else—boss shit [laughs]. The next morning, I went right back into the studio and started to create more. I told myself I was gonna give myself a break but I didn’t even do that. I’m really grinding like I’m broke. I’m listening to all these people who independent talking about how they running it up, I’m like shit I’m trying to run it up too. We living in the digital era of music now, and you just got to attack the algorithms. Your music is going to work for you once you release it into the world. I dropped 12 three years ago—you know how many people dropped since then? I’m trying to run it up now.

What do you like to do on your free time?

TWELVYY: I do a lot of gaming. Shoutout to everybody that’s on the gaming tip. One of the guys in my crew is one of the top players in 2K and shit like that. A little fun fact, my Playstation Network screen name is actually the title of my new album Noon Yung and it’s been that ever since the PS4 came out. Metal Gear Solid is one of my favorite series of all-time bro. Of course 2K and Madden I play a lot. Grand Theft Auto. Ghost of Tsushima I’ve been playing that a lot too.

A$AP Twelvyy’s LYBB Gaming member DUES805 playing Fortnite

Looking at the way you craft your music, you tend to stay in your own lane and work at your own pace. How did you learn to move that way in music?

TWELVYY: Being a part of the A$AP Mob really taught me how to work on developing myself and figuring out how I want to work. Like I said earlier, everybody be acting like they want to be in the mix, but I’m not with none of that. I’m gonna make this music, talk to some pretty women, stack my bread, travel, play the game and be on my way.  I just want to make sure I’m being me at all times. I’m not with none of the gimmicks.

Since you’ve been independent, you started your own label “Last Year Being Broke(n)”, which stems from the song of that same title. Tell me a bit about how that label started and how it’s going for you?

TWELVYY: So “Last Year Being Broke” was the last song that I recorded with A$AP Yams before he passed, so it’s special to me. The name itself just speaks so highly to me because it represents assertiveness. It’s like man, I don’t want to be broke, down and fucked up anymore. I don’t want to have to penny pinch. I know how that is to go through that. So LYBB is the label and I got a bunch of things that I’m working on that coincide with that. First Year Being Rich is a brand that I’m starting under that, so it’s some crazy shit coming with that. And on top of that, it’s always A$AP forever. The crew is just so expansive, you know. Rocky has AWGE, Bari has VLone, Ant has Marino, Ferg has Trap Lord. We have machines that work within the machine that is A$AP.

A$AP Twelvyy’s “LYBB” is the inspiration behind his label name

Now that you’re running things at your own label and scouting artists, are you going to get into the production and engineering side of things?

TWELVYY: Hell yeah. I’ve already been producing for a minute—I only got like one song produced though. I did a few of the sounds on “Powerpuff Girls”. It wasn’t too hard of a transition for me getting into production and all of that just because I’m such a studio junkie—like I really love to work. Even when I’m not in the studio, I’m studying the game.

“Powerpuff Girls” is one of the leading singles from his new album Noon Yung

How does it feel getting more of that creative control back into your hands now that you’re doing so much on your own?

TWELVYY: Man, I’m loving it. I just love not having to answer to nobody but myself. I’m basically my own A&R. Looking at the current scene, the job of an A&R is starting to fade. Not to take any food off of anybody’s table or anything, but it feels good being my own A&R. I done been to the clubs, the lounges, the stadiums and all. So I feel like I can collect sound and information about how my music is moving better than anybody else can. We can’t let somebody that doesn’t understand us dictate us.

When it comes to me picking my singles, I always play it for my people closest to me, but most of the time I have to believe in it myself. One thing that I learned is that I can’t keep looking for validation or confirmation from other people, and that’s real shit. I got so many songs that I haven’t even released yet and I’m just I’m just imagining it now like damn, this is gonna fuck shit up once I drop this.

Even though you’ve been making noise for so long, who are you still eager to connect with on a musical level?

TWELVYY: Kendrick Lamar for sure. Snoh Aalegra. Freddie Gibbs. Lil Baby. I’ve already connected with Snoh but that was for one of her music videos. I was the star in the video. I be trying to get on more shit like that. It’s cool to do the rap shit and try to be the best rapper ever and all that, but sometimes you got to do it for the ladies.

A$AP Twelvyy co-stars in Snoh Aalegra’s visuals for “I Want You Around”

What’s your take on some of the guys making noise right now in New York?

TWELVYY: History always repeats itself. So when I look at the guys making noise right now, I expect them to have that shit because New York always been delivering since the beginning of Hip Hop. Brookyn always had a wave. Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z, Mos Def, Fabolous—they started early with this shit.

You’re coming fresh off of the release of your latest offering Noon Yung. For those who haven’t peeped it yet, what are some of the things they can expect on the project?

TWELVYY:  A lot of growth, man. A lot of experiences from the moments in time that I’ve been through. I’m giving a lot of me on this project. You can expect to get a lot more of who I am as a person and as an artist on this one. Sometimes I go online and I realize that a lot of people will only judge you by shit they’ve seen on the internet. For me, I don’t have much shit on YouTube, I don’t have a ton of interviews. That said, I gotta let my catalogue speak for me. A lot of people think that this is a continuation of my last project Before Noon, but that project was actually supposed to never happen. I had got my studio ran into—they took the computer, the hard drive, my whole shit. So Before Noon was just a little something to get the gears moving again.

If Noon Yung would be the very last project you will ever drop, what do you want the world to remember you for?

TWELVYY: I would want the world to remember me as the godfather of time [laughs].You know, like I’m like Marty McFly or Dr. Brown with this shit. I want to be the one that they come to learn about time. Knock on wood, but if this is it, then I would want it to be that. This will be the best album of this year, last year, the next ten years. That’s exactly how I’m coming.