On his latest EP, Tomorrow After One, Carol City native Twelve'Len reaches into his creative bag and pulls out 13 minutes of pure late-night Miami style, redirecting his flow and tempo as necessary on each track with ease.
"It's like rebuilding a Transformer," Twelve'Len explains. "I take all the best parts of me and put them together."
The best parts of Twelve'Len (AKA Lavares Joseph) may be his capacity to combine his many talents to create the best representation of his work. With Tomorrow After One, he has asserted more control over production (with contributions from the likes of Nick León, Justin Wiggins, and Lemonade Playboy). For the accompanying visuals, he came up with the concepts and had a hand in the editing. On the six days leading up to Tomorrow's August 14 release, he dropped a video a day — one for each of EP's six tracks.
He says his inspiration for the ambitious visuals came from the height of the music-video era.
"I've always been a big fan of two eras of music videos: late-'80s, early-'90s LL Cool J, and Michael Jackson in the late '80s. Also some 2005-to-2009 videos," he adds.
Twelve'Len's visuals aren't all that drips with nostalgia. The title of the song "Jits" — slang for a young person or a child — invokes growing up in South Florida. (Just about anyone who grew up in Miami has been called a jit, at least on one occasion.) On the track, Twelve'Len reminisces about his youth, the days when he and his friends ran wild around Carol City, and the loyalty they still share.
As a songwriter, Twelven'Len has an interesting approach. His flow rarely remains the same, and as a vocalist, he manages to pack a tremendous amount of content into each verse.
When asked what he means when he sings, "Candy paint brings back those bad days" in "Jits," he tells of being a teenager and heading to all-ages clubs, watching all the older heads show up in their candy-painted rides glittering under the Miami moonlight.
The record's fifth track, "My Dawgs," features minimal production and an interesting guitar riff and thumping bass that give way to Twelve'Len's musings about the bond between him and the people he grew up with.
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The chorus lets you feel how deep the loyalty goes:
"Got it out the mud with my dawgs/Every day I wake up and pray for my dawgs/I'ma ride, I'ma die for my dawgs/Even when they wrong, I still ride for my dawgs."
"Either way it goes, life is built around relationships and how you communicate with people," he explains. "That's what this entire project is really about: It's about that socialization, and it's about those interactions between you and your friends and your loved ones."
In much the same way, Tomorrow After One is perfectly cohesive yet despite switching between smooth minimalist glory to staccato lyrical gamesmanship that challenges your perspective on what an R&B singer is supposed to be.