Earlier this month, Harlem-born rapper A$AP Twelvyy released 12, his excellent debut album. Fittingly, the artist who got his stage name from Harlem's 212 area code put together a project that is filled with vivid tales of life on the vibrant, gritty streets of Uptown Manhattan.
Naturally, the record boasts guest appearances from fellow members of the A$AP Mob like Ferg and Rocky. But what helps set Twelvyy's art apart is that the music is not just limited to tough talk and gangsterism. Instead, he touches on strong themes of friendship and loyalty that are tied to his deep bond with the rest of the A$AP Mob, especially his late friend and mentor A$AP Yams.
Photographer Justin Aversano took pictures of Twelvyy recently at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in honor of the release of his new album and his clothing brand LYBB, which is an acronym for Last Year Being Broke(N).
"His music is something we can all relate to, and it's unique from the rest of the Mob... It evokes a profound feeling," says photographer Aversano.
The graduate of the School of Visual Art has been tight with the rapper, whose real name is Jamel Phillips, since way before he was rhyming on a major label or running his own clothing company. "I started shooting Twelvyy because he had not had any professional photoshoots as a musician, and we were already friends," Aversano explains. "We started sharing concepts to help build up his visual aesthetic."
With this new collection of photos, the duo wanted to capture the intimate and vulnerable side of hip-hop that is often ignored. "Since Twelvyy is blooming into his rap career, I thought the Botanical Garden would be a wonderful place to depict this new state of consciousness," says Aversano. "We photographed near a lot of cacti because the species is charged with spiritual and healing energies that I believe we all need to share and experience."