When it comes to his music, Twelve'Len is a man of discipline. Case in point: While the rest of the world seized upon Frank Ocean's hotly anticipated Blonde last fall, he waited a full year to listen to it.
"I was like, I don't wanna listen to any Frank Ocean, because I don't want it to influence me, because I love his work," he says. "I ended up not listening to the project all the way up to now, and I was like, All right, lemme listen to it, and I listened to it and I'm in love with it. It's dope."
Twelve, born Lavares Joseph, makes a brand of soulful R&B that could be compared to Frank Ocean's. He's in the final stages of mastering his latest record, Move. Originally, the album was meant to be a passion project built around his beloved car, a 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass.
"It's a classic car; it's older than me," the 25-year-old says. "And I wanted to release a project that I could play in my car. The only reason I was creating this project was to have something playing in my car."
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Twelve had designs on including nearly every one of his friends in the close-knit South Florida hip-hop scene on the mixtape, from Robb Banks to Denzel Curry, and putting their voices over his favorite beats. It wasn't anything serious until a few influential names began to call.
"Infamous, he produced, like, all of Yo Gotti's records; he produced a bunch of Lil Wayne hits, like 'Prom,' different things like that. And then Ben Billions is, like, that's DJ Khaled's producer; all the hits you hear, Ben Billions put his hands all over them. Also, DJ Dahi, he produced this one track for me, 'Natural High.'"
With such heavy-hitters joining him for the ride, Twelve knew he had to change course.
"So when Infamous called me," he says, "we started working, and I was like, Dang, I can't play with this project! I can't just only have fun with it! I have to put together a dope piece of work now because I don't want them to waste their time. I don't wanna just wing it; now I have to sit down and strategize and create something amazing but still well-rounded and still something that's fun."