Mention A$AP and everyone knows of Rocky and Ferg, yet we know there's a handful of artists under the A$AP umbrella who have patiently been waiting for their turn. One of them is A$AP Twelvyy and having waited in the wings for a number of years since A$AP burst on to the scene, Twelvyy steps up to bat with his debut album '12'.
In promoting his album, Twelvyy did the Youtube media rounds and an hour spent listening to Twelvyy's interviews is an hour well spent. Twelvyy is a fairly interesting chap who embodies New York and was one of the earliest figures in A$AP's inception. Twelvyy linked up with A$AP mastermind Yam$ before A$AP was formed and Twelvyy's history as an A$AP artist only adds to the intrigue regarding the wait for Twelvyy to release such a body of music.
The start of 2016 had me listening to 'Last Year Being Broke (Resolution)' and obviously offered a splash of inspiration, motivation. So to hear L.Y.B.B on '12' encapsulates the wait for Twelvyy's album and we know that good things take time, whether it is a few years since A$AP emerged or a year after dropping an album cut, 12 is the product of years of craft, perspective and living.
A major vibe I caught from 12 was the sound of New York and Twelvyy gets it started straight away on Castle Hell, the opening track of 12. This is a play on Twelvyy's Castle Hill stomping grounds and portrays the pursuit of something greater, which follows Twelvyy throughout the bars he spits and artwork he creates. I found Twelvyy's ability to bring together all the elements of New York that have helped mould Twelvyy and then share them through his work is up there with the best NYC rappers - NYC rap is on fire at the moment.
Even as NYC hip hip is currently thriving, Twelvyy has his own niche and in the paragraphs below I mention featured artists, who also have their own niche in a funky NYC hip hop scene. I'd suggest that Twelvyy is a mixture of grimey street life where he's selling drugs, 'straps' and pissing in elevators, juxtaposed against an enlightened Twelvyy who understands why things have played out as they have, even juxtaposed against a smooth talking 'finessing' character. That sums up NYC and in that regard, Twelvyy nails every aspect of being a modern NYC hip hop artist and such a perspective blended in with artistic endeavor makes for a enticing sound.
As you would expect from an artist who is part of a crew and more importantly has been busy collaborating with fellow Beast Coast artists while waiting for his debut release, Twelvyy brings through a variety of artists to feature on 12. Rocky, Ferg, Ant and Nast get appearances as A$AP members and each track that they feature on, reflects that featured artist's sound, with a Twelvyy twist.
Ant and Nast feature on Ea$tSideGho$t, which sounds as though it was made in the stairwell of the Castle Hill projects. Rocky features on Diamonds and this has Rocky's prints all over it with a slightly flashier sound just slowed down a little, with Ferg featuring on Hop Out and dropping lines like 'niggarachi eating calamari'. Solely within that A$AP bubble, the sounds of the respective songs that Twelvyy's comrades feature on reflect the lane they have carved out. All three of these songs still sound like they've come straight out of NYC though, guess that's A$AP for ya.
Flatbush Zombies jump on A Glorious Death, thanks to an Erick Arc Elliott produced track and verses from Zombie Juice and Meechy Darko. Again, thanks to Erick's production, this sounds like a cut straight from a Flatbush Zombies album, although it slides beautifully into a Twelvyy album. A Glorious Death is followed with Riviera, featuring Joey Bada$$ and an airy vibe that picks you up and has you flying around the globe, is perfect for Joey to grace Twelvyy with his presence.
Those features and the variety of different producers used, along with the variance in Twelvyy's perspective/experience makes 12 feel like a melting pot. Sometimes this can be annoying as artists reach for too many sounds or too many angles, however this overall vibe is perfect for Twelvyy, because that's where I feel Twelvyy shines. From a far flung land, 12 paints the picture of Twelvyy being raised by everything and anything in NYC, led by the duality in good and bad.
Sunset Park and Periodic Table are my two favourite jams. The motivation and ideas in Sunset Park will force you to switch up how you operate, force you to keep hustling and stay true to yourself. Periodic Table's hook tells you of what raised Twelvyy; 'heat-makers and the hot boys, them every night make a knot boys'. They, like most of the jams on 12 aren't headlined by supreme lyricism, although every bar contains something crucial, whether it's a witty pearl or a gem to make you think.
12 takes you straight to New York and fills you up with everything, it's as though Twelvyy is your tour guide and he's got you sussed on a journey through the areas he grew up in and how they raised him. The process of waiting his turn in the A$AP machine feels like it also played a major role in how slick 12 sounds as Twelvyy is able to approach that New York vibe from the success and international touring via A$AP's success. Not only has Twelvyy been able to reflect on all that influenced him in New York, he's been able to do so from a different perspective which has only come via patiently waiting.
Give 12 time to simmer as it takes many listens to start to catch the beauty in how so many different pieces and moving parts are brought together. Twelvyy has arrived and as in keeping with all lovely debut albums, I'm super intrigued by what Twelvyy delivers next. Perhaps even more so as Twelvyy will let this process simmer and allow for his adventures to shape what comes next.