A$AP Twelvy Talks A$AP Mob, Videogames, and Remaining True to New York
The young A$AP spitter chops it up with us on the eve of his March 6th Noisey Rap Party performance.
Now that the A$AP Rocky has been out for a minute, the spotlight has been pointing at some other players in the Mob. A$AP Ferg is up next with his upcoming Trap Lord mixtape, but it remains to be seen who from the Mob will be breaking next. A$AP Twelvy’s a good bet, as he’s consistently the best part of any A$AP Mob track he’s on and will be joining Bodega Bamz, Black Dave, and Kyle Rapps at our upcoming Rap Party on Wednesday, March 6th at Santos Party House.
I was lucky enough to recently hang with Twelvy as we nerded out on video games, playing laser tag, and being courtside at a Knicks game.
Noisey: How did you get the name Twelvy?
A$AP Twelvy:I got the name Twelvy because it's short for 212. Everybody calls me 212 since the area code in Harlem is 212, you know what I'm saying? I'm a real Harlem cat, real New York type. The name 212 stuck with me and I didn't want to be called "A$AP 212" because it don't flow right. A$AP Twelvy is smooth and girls love Twelvy.
What's your favorite number?
I was hoping for something different, like 57.
Nah, it's twelve. Before that, it was probably eleven [laughs].
What are some of your rap influences? Rocky has a lot of Southern style, but you seem very New York.
I'm pretty much strictly New York. Jay-Z, Nas, Big L, 50 Cent, Big Pun… Stack Bundles. Rest in peace to Raekwon Elliot. He's one of my favorite rappers. I feel like he lives vicariously through me because he was a young cat who just wanted to make that shift for New York rap, and they took the homie’s life. More influences are like Max B., when DJ Clue had the Rasta fad, Eminem, Snoop Dogg... I love Snopp Dogg. I grew up listening to Snopp Dogg heavily. My cousin is Buckwild from Diggin' in the Crates.
Most of us tend to get influenced by our surroundings.
You know how MTV used to play videos when you were getting ready for school? They were showing the Jay-Z, the Puff, and that's what I love. That's what I grew up on.
What does Harlem's history mean to you? Does it inspire you?
Yeah definitely. Harlem is the home of the hustle, the moneymaking Manhattan. We all strive to be that person. Harlem has a history of top cats coming out shining, being flashy, strutting and being all that. We represent that, but at the same time I know we’re way less flashy and flamboyant than what you know of The Diplomats and everything. We really used to not have enough, you feel me? Our generation was so fucked up. The crime rate was high and if a cat was getting money, he was just a sucka nigga and I don't want to be like him. You want to emulate what you see. The cats before that were cooler like the hustlers from the 80's. My step-pops and my uncles were who you wanted to be like because they were cool. We here right now repping for Harlem so the next generation of cats have someone to look up to. That's what it's really about.
You tend to find that person that you want to be like when you're a little kid. We all go through that.
Yeah, exactly. This one cat, Richard Porter. He was a young cat getting money. Paid in Full was based off his life. Richard Porter was one of the youngest getting money niggas; he was mad flashy. As a young cat, you see Paid in Full and you hear the stories about him, you kind of want to be like him. He is really a legend, so why not emulate that? I don't got to sell drugs no more, I can do that with rap music, I could be one of the legends they talk about years later. Hopefully people one day will say, "Twelvy… he put on for his city. A$AP, they put on for they city."
A$AP Mob is always associated with Harlem, but I hear you're actually from Castle Hill?
I was born in Harlem Hospital, but I grew up in Castle Hill. I moved there when I was 13, but I was always back and forth. I grew up in Castle Hill though, it's crazy out there. When I first made that transition, I'm going to come clean and say it was mad difficult. Harlem wasn't like that. It was turnt up, but it wasn't Castle Hill. I wasn't living in the projects in Harlem. I was living in a nice apartment building, and then we moved to Castle Hill and ever since then I just remember being a little bad ass kid. Everything over there was just more enticing. Nobody was getting ball money. I ain't seen nobody from our hood getting money for playing ball. There was one cat, Cory Fisher, who was the only cat that I knew made it out of Castle Hill playing ball. Remy Ma made it out of Castle Hill doing rap, but then you see how her situation is. I didn't have too many positive influences. It gives you that hunger though! It hunkers you down. It wasn't all that bad. I got a lot of good friends from there and a lot of good experiences and it made me the cat I am today. I didn't see a way out until about two years ago.
Everybody has their time and it's up to you to take that opportunity. Do you agree?
Now, I have the opportunity. I've been doing the thing with Rocky and now it's my turn to just do what I got to do. I'm just happy I made the proper decision a couple years back and not do certain things because that could have fucked me up for being where I'm at today.
It's hard to keep finding people that inspire you. So much of it sounds so stale.
Yeah, definitely. I'm formulating a sound that is the evolution of hoodie rap. It's turnt up, but then it's smooth, but it's still turnt up and it's gangsta. It probably makes you want to go do some violent shit. You probably just want to go rob a nigga, but I ain't telling you to rob a nigga, I'm just telling you what I had to go through and I'm just giving you my experience. And if you're feeling how I was feeling, well you're just going to do what you have to do [laughs].
What kind of beats do you prefer to flow on? Who are some of your favorite producers right now?
At the moment, A$AP P On the Boards, Joey Fatts [is] crazy, Ty Beats [is] crazy, my man Kenny Beats, I got some shit with Alchemist. I've been working with P On the Boards heavily. I'm going through the process of my tape; I got a couple new joints. I really like the P On the Boards sound. I'm going for that traditional hoodie rap sound, but it still has that A$AP feeling to it.
Knicks or Nets?
Knicks. I was actually at that Nets vs. Knicks game. I was sitting courtside with Spike Lee and Mike Rappaport, and Tristan Wilds.
Whoa, that's crazy!
Yeah man! This rap shit cool! I was out there to my homies at Nike. Shout out to all of them. Knicks won and Jason Kidd hit the game winner. You can see me on SportsCenter wilding.
Call of Duty or Halo 4?
Metal Gear Solid. I got the new one. I'm heavily influenced by video games.
What games are you into?
Metal Gear, Resident Evil, I play NBA 2K a lot… that's where I get my money from. I bust niggas’ heads in and shit [laughs]. I've been through the Chrono Trigger phase. I've been through the Final Fantasy phase.
What Final Fantasy is your favorite?
Final Fantasy VII. Dynasty Warriors is on my list too. Marvel vs. Capcom and FIFA Street.
Yeah, we play FIFA Street on the tour bus. FIFA is really cool. The wave of people liking it is coming. You're going to see more people playing it. FIFA is mad cool. Sometimes, you don't want to play 2k all day.
I saw that video when you're all playing laser tag. Who is the best out of the Mob at laser tag? Who had the best shot?
It was probably Nast, yo! I'm going to come clean because Nast is mad sneaky. He was just sneaking up and taking us out. That shit was mad fun.
If you could be any famous person from history, who would you be?
Anybody? You ever heard of Frank Mathews? Frank Matthews was a drug dealer from somewhere in the Midwest. He used to run numbers back in the 50's, 60's, 70's. He got tired of running numbers, so he met the connect to sell drugs. He was the largest-grossing drug dealer ever. Topped everybody that people usually talk about, but they don't talk about him. He's that dude. He's so ill. He gets locked up, but instead of putting his own money up, his town puts the money up to bail him out. It was like $350,000. He got out of jail and he was fighting the case. One of the last days before he's going to court, he runs into some cops and they're like, "You might be getting life." He's confused since he thinks he can beat this. I guess he saw the judge afterwards and asked him about this life shit and the judge is like, "Maybe." The next day he never came back. He disappeared from the face of the earth. He didn't die or nothing, he's just gone. He's a legend forever. You don't know where he's at, but he got money so he straight. He's ill, man.
What's the closest you ever been to death?
I can't swim. One time I jumped off the diving board and jumped into the water. I couldn't breath for a few moments. That's probably it. There were some other shits, but I'll save those.
Daniel Dorsa's dream job is to drive the A$AP Mob tour bus. He's on Twitter - @danieldorsa