When A$AP Rocky was figuring out his live show on the “Club Paradise Tour” with Drake, A$AP Twelvyy was the crowd-surfing hype man making sure the energy never went below chaotic. But, while some may have seen Twelvyy as just the hype man in the early days, he was actually learning how to become an artist along with Rocky.
“Rocky was setting up a whole new life for me. He was saying, ‘I’m going to pay for your passport. I’m going to pay for your travel,’” Twelvyy told REVOLT. “At this time, I was still learning how to be an artist. I knew how to rap, but he showed me how to be a showman. We were learning together.”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the founding A$AP Mob member explains why he kept touring for years after suffering a severe injury, what every A$AP Mob member’s role is onstage, and the magic of their early live shows. Read our exclusive conversation below.
What is the first show you remember having with the core A$AP Mob group?
Our first A$AP show was around 2009/2010 when we performed at little spots. Rocky was performing his songs. I remember it was around that time because I performed uptown in the copper Nike Air [Foamposites]. I didn’t think we would be famous rappers for those early shows. I was just excited we got a chance to perform, bro. I remember performing at Santos [Party House] with wired mics. We were wilding. We had about 80 brothers onstage. We didn’t know what was coming next week, so our energy was all on the stage.
Do you recall when Dipset had their reunion show back in October 2011, and they brought you all and Rocky out to perform “Peso”?
I stage-dived at that Dipset show. For my brother Rocky to get his vision across, I did whatever needed to be done. If he says, “Yo, jump in the crowd, bro; turn this b**ch up,” he ain’t have to tell me twice, bro (laughs). I remember jumping in the crowd, and I think I broke some guy’s glasses. He was telling me, “You broke my glasses. Y’all going to pay for my glasses?” He tried to grab me, bro. You’re not going to grab me. All I remember was just trying to get to the door. We all made it out. This was uncharted territory. Nobody was doing this. We made it healthy. We made it safe for you. We’ve fought at SXSW. You really have to be built to jump in the crowd.
What was transitioning to the big stage like when Rocky joined Drake’s 2012 “Club Paradise Tour”?
I had to get my passport. Rocky was setting up a whole new life for me. He was saying, “I’m going to pay for your passport. I’m going to pay for your travel.” He got a tour bus, and they’re extremely expensive. This is a kid out of Harlem who didn’t have a hit record yet. At this time, I was still learning how to be an artist. I knew how to rap, but he showed me how to be a showman. We were learning together.
Did you all interact with the other acts on tour, like Kendrick Lamar?
I had a song with Kendrick Lamar. Backstage was a lot of love. It was like entering a space with catering, so we’d eat with K. Dot at the table. Eating together in a circle is where the camaraderie came from. Then, I got to see these people rehearse. Then, you see them perform. I saw K. Dot’s early sets. I saw Drake perform. Then, I’m performing with A$AP Rocky. It was dope learning from them guys, man.
What are each of your roles onstage?
Let’s start with Rocky. He’s the one that’s going to sell the tickets, keep the lights on, put a**es in them seats, and rock his set creatively and sonically. If Flacko did half of his set and needs an energy boost, he knows he got Ferg to come through with songs like “Shabba,” “Work,” and “New Level.” I’m there to raise the energy with the guys. I’m giving them the vocal pickup just to go even crazier. I have to interact with the crowd and do crowd control. But so does A$AP Nast and Addie. We can’t do it the same because it’ll sound cluttered. So, I have that responsibility, and it’s a huge responsibility.
That brotherhood also leads to pranks and jokes. What were some of the funniest moments you all have shared?
The first few years at SXSW, bro and them started getting the houses. So if you fell asleep early, we were throwing the big bucket of water on you. There was a point where you couldn’t even sleep around the guys because they were throwing water.
Which songs get the craziest reactions when performed live?
“Peso” is one. Every time we perform “Hella H**s,” it’s massive. “Work,” “Shabba,” and “Plain Jane” go crazy. Also, I can’t forget “Yamborghini High.”
What were the craziest crowd reactions?
We were either in New Zealand or Australia, and a guy climbed up a light pole on the stage, then fell and broke his arm. I don’t know how many feet he dropped. Rocky stopped the show for a few seconds to tell him, “Yo, you’re that dude.” But the show must go on.
One of your biggest songs, “L.Y.B.B. (Resolution),” causes a lot of madness at shows. What is your favorite performance of that track?
I’ve seen people mosh pit to that song. On The Zombie’s tour, I’ve seen people hanging off lights in California. But my best song with the wildest reactions has been “Coziest.”
What were some of your first solo shows, and what don’t fans know about them?
It was when I went on the “3001: A Laced Odyssey Tour” with Flatbush Zombies in 2016. I was rocking that b**ch. This was my first time going on tour with nobody. Flacko never really had that chance to do that by himself. So, when I had to do it, it was hard. When I went on tour with them, I didn’t have a DJ with me. I was using their DJ. My DJ held me down because I didn’t have a hype man. That was a fantastic experience. I got to bring Addie on tour, and I brought out Maxo Kream when we hit Houston. I built a rapport with him from meeting him on the other tours with Flacko. On tour with The Zombies, my first show in London, I got an inguinal hernia onstage. I had to get surgery, but I was doing shows. I did shows for almost two years before surgery. I was going crazy. I was in mega pain. I was wrapping the hernia belt around. I was tightening it. I didn’t want to ever not tour. I didn’t want to take time off. I couldn’t do it. It was like when Kobe got hurt, and he still went and shot the free throws. I didn’t have any health insurance. I’m a musician. I was chasing my dream, but there was still the reality.