We’re right in the middle of another golden age for hip-hop crews. Multi-member outfits like the Native Tongues and Murder Inc. held sway for the first two decades of the genre’s reign on the charts, but fell out of favor in the ’00s as the spotlight landed on oversized solo acts like Kanye, Jay-Z, and Missy Elliott. But this decade has seen the rise of new squads, from trap trio Migos to the Sailing Team, led by teen sensation Lil Yachty.
The crew that’s currently ruling the world is New York’s A$AP Mob. This absolutely sprawling outfit from Harlem is at the center of a loud hype storm, with A$AP Rocky appearing on the cover of GQ Style and brands like Converse and UK department store Selfridges knocking on their collective door.
The attention has been good for the Mob and its 15-plus members. Their collaborative Cozy Tapes albums have been star-studded, multi-varied affairs that truck in boom bap and trap productions, and their individual albums, particularly recent efforts from Rocky and A$AP Ferg, are some of the most thrilling hip-hop releases of the last five years.
The next potential superstar of the crew looks to be A$AP Twelvyy. His languid, fluid style is a highlight of the Mob’s group work, and finally took center stage this past August with the release of his solo album 12. It’s a long time coming—his previous attempts at mixtapes were scuttled, and he had to take the backseat for a stretch while his teammates shone.
“It’s nothing malicious,” Twelvyy says, speaking from his home in New York. “It’s all brotherly love. Waiting five, six years just added fuel to the fire. The only time it got stressful was when the album was supposed to drop in July and it didn’t. I’m just lucky that my brothers helped keep me in a comfort zone and have space to work in the shadows.”
His momentum was also halted by the death of the Mob’s de facto leader, A$AP Yams, who executive produced many of the group’s first releases and helped bring them to international acclaim. He passed away in 2015 from an accidental drug overdose.
“We still trying to cope with the loss,” said Twelvyy. “That was the creator. That was the brain, feel me? We had to study the game and do more as if we were Yams.”
The study is clearly paying off for the Mob. They’re welcoming new members like 15-year-old Smooky MarGielaa, and everyone’s involved in a myriad of side ventures. For Twelvyy that includes his fashion line Last Year Being Broke and a collaboration with Puma. But he’s got even grander ambitions.
“Hopefully this will be the most amazing Christmas ever, and can give me great energy for the next year,” he said. “I wanna do movies, a Netflix series, a YouTube series. Gonna start my own band, coming to a garage near you. Hopefully get to coach the Knicks. Probably end up hosting Tales from the Hood. I wanna get into all that.”