The Bronx/Harlem-raised artist debuted his long awaited solo album, 12, in August to much fanfare. Twelvvy’s gritty rhymes coupled with outlandish production from the likes of Harry Fraud, MD$, Alex Leone, P on the Boards and more make for a soundscape that brings the hood and the hipsters together in one cipher. Things really kicked into motion in 2016 when his Last Year Being Broke slogan became an online campaign for his solo project.
“Last Year Being Broke gave me a platform and also an organization to bring young entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and everything [together]. With them, they empowered me, and then I got to empower my brand — it’s really like an ‘each one, teach one situation.’ I wouldn’t be here today without LYBB, so thank you,” says Twelvyy about his homegrown movement. “It’s the LYBB mentality, it’s like ‘I ain’t broke, but I ain’t rich.’ I know there’s some people out here that are fronting like they rich, and they probably aren’t doing better than me.”
During a recent chat at the VIBE offices, 12vy discussed why he had no problem playing the background, the importance of originality, how being down on his luck made his success that much more gratifying and how traveling opened up his mind.
“I’ve Been Stacking These Songs For Years”
“It was like progress in A$AP development. Yall got introduced to my big bro A$AP Rocky in 2011, and in 2012, I started writing. In 2013, I started laying the vocals, and by 2017 we finished the [album]. I feel like that’s what the development of music is. I don’t think you should just record a whole project in a week — you got to sit with it. Young Thug could do it, Hov could do it but not everyone else can do it.
Like if I was playing ball, Kobe my favorite player, but I wouldn’t want to take his shot, so in case I make it to the [NBA I can have my own shot]. I appreciate your art and respect it, but I ain’t going to take it, though. I think there’s too much [of that in rap]. They straight Black Goku your whole style.”
“I Got A Personality, Man!”
“I hear most of this music these days and there’s no personality or persona; it’s just ‘I’m gonna be a Soundcloud rapper with diamonds, grills and dreads. [For me], there’s a whole asthetic and art to this. I really took my time, and I ain’t playing with them. It’s a New York thing. We could never fall off, and this is ours. Everybody knows New York runs everything. Yall are on our time, if we stop everybody would run around screaming. I’m a hybrid because I was born in Harlem, and grew up in the Bronx, Castle Hill. I was back and forth growing up because I got family in the Bronx and Harlem.”
“I Could See An A$AP Mob Movie Real Real Clear In My Vision”
“My favorite movie ever is Ricochet . Yall know Ice T and Denzel are both in that movie — it’s the perfect Yin and Yang. Denzel was a street level dude who became a court justice official, and then went back to doing bad. I used the streets to ricochet back, too. You gotta know what it’s like to be doing bad to come up. Sometimes everything might go wrong only to go right — and I understand that now.”
“Travelling Changed My Life”
“Even from just moving around the boroughs, traveling changed my life. Then to Miami, Toronto, L.A., China, Paris and London. The first time I went to London, I saw a kid I went to school on a Billboard, so I knew we were supposed to be here. Shout out to Dominique Hollington.
Travelling has broaden my vision more than anything, I used to be small minded — a little dumb-out from the block and I had to grow up. Travelling induced that.”
Twelvvy’s 12vy album is available on all streaming platforms now.