Backstage at the University of Illinois’ go-to concert venue, The Canopy Club, A$AP Twelvyy is rocking his usual Cozy Boys attire: black durag, black hoodie, sweats and “Bred” Jordan Is.

Though his outfit may suit his calm, cool and collected demeanor, Twelvyy’s live show is anything but tranquil. The 26-year-old Bronx/Harlem native performs with a certain, unquantifiable tenacity that earns him rap game John Starks status in the eyes of many.

We sat down with Twelvyy post-show to discuss the Knicks, college hoops and upcoming A$AP releases. Among the man also know as 212 Mel’s early influences were Em, Cam’ron and Snoop—now, he’s looking to pave his own legacy alongside his partners: Rocky, Ferg, Nast, Ant and the rest of the Mob.

SLAM: What was your initial reaction when the Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis?

A$AP Twelvyy: My reaction was, ‘Who the fuck is that?’ I think I was in Europe with Joey Bada$$ and Nyck Caution. And Nyck Caution is a huge Knick fan. He’s also a great basketball player and a great rapper. Shout out to Pro Era. He was like ‘Yo man, we just got Porzingis.’ And me and him was just talking, laughing. And then [Porzingis] started ballin’, and I was just like, Whoa. He’s cool though.

SLAM: With another losing season for the Knicks in the books, what are your feelings about the team at this stage?

AT: Lil B blessed the Knicks for me when I was with him not too long ago, and that’s all that needs to be said.

SLAM: That means you guys are going to win the ‘chip in like, two years, then.

AT: That’s a fact! Shout out to Lil B. Ayo, and Golden State? Look, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like the Cleveland Cavaliers are gon’ take it this year. [The Warriors] are gonna run out of juice soon.

SLAM: If you could pick a starting five of your favorite Knicks players of all-time, what would it be?

AT: Just ‘cuz I like him, I’d have Charlie Ward run the 1, Allan Houston at the 2, at the 3 I would have [Latrell] Sprewell, 4 Carmelo, and 5 [Patrick] Ewing. But it’s like I’m forgetting Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley, so those are my backups.

SLAM: What moment pops into your mind when you think of growing up as a Knicks fan in the ’90s?

AT: I ain’t gon’ lie, because I wasn’t fuckin’ with the Knicks. Like, how was Patrick Ewing getting dogged like that? How’d he miss that layup and shit? I was mad.

SLAM: You mean when he missed off the back rim against the Pacers in Game 7?

AT: Yeah. I ain’t gon’ lie, I’m a huge Kobe fan, so I was a huge Lakers fan.

SLAM: His career is over this week.

AT: Right before the [Achilles] injury, I got to see him the game before that, bro. Against Minnesota. Bro, it was like God just let me do that. I was like ‘Word?’ Then he got hurt and I was like, ‘Wow. He’ll never be the same.’ Then he got hurt again, and I was like, ‘Oh, now it’s over.’

SLAM: What’s your own game like? Did you play growing up, either organized or pickup?

AT: I used to play AAU for Kips Bay in the Bronx on the same team as Kemba Walker. Kemba Walker is incredible. I was heavy into basketball. I don’t know if y’all know Corey Fisher—he went to Villanova a few years back. I was at the pick-up game when he scored 105 points. I went to the game with him. So I’ve been around basketball my whole life. Like I said, I was a point forward. I’ve got good vision, and I’ll find the open man.

SLAM: What can you tell me about that day when Corey Fisher dropped 105? 

AT: It was at Watson, at the Watson Basketball Classic. Every time he pulled up from the three it was just money. I was just smoking like ‘Whoaaa.’ I was blasted, and it was just incredible. It was before the cell phones and all that. You had to have been there and been watching the game.

SLAM: Do you have any memories from Rucker Park or any other legendary court in the city?

AT: Nah, I wasn’t really going to Rucker like that. I would go to Kingdome—Kingdome was real popular. My memory from that was me and Yams smoking right behind the bench when Puff Daddy was coaching.

SLAM: Who are your favorite players in the league currently?

AT: Paul George, Brandon Knight, TJ Warren. I ain’t gon’ lie, I like the whole Phoenix Suns roster. [Eric] Bledsoe’s nice, [Devin] Booker’s gonna be great. I like the Heat, I like my man Justise Winslow—that’s my guy right there. It’s great for him. He’s gonna learn some shit from D-Wade and Pat Riley. They might go deep in the playoffs. I’m thinking that’s gonna be the Eastern Conference Finals more than likely—Heat versus Cavs. And I got the Cavs winning, but I know it’s gonna be a battle. Hopefully Kyrie gets his head in the game.

SLAM: Have any players reached out to the Mob and been like, ‘We really fuck with your music?’

AT: Ayo I love Wilson Chandler. That’s my brother. He’s really like my brother. TJ Warren my n****. Taj Gibson my n****. Justise Winslow my n****. My guys. I fuck with Zach LaVine. I’m really on some showin’ love to the young generation—the kids in college. Isaiah Briscoe is my favorite college player right now. I’m sad Kentucky lost so early [in the Tournament], but sometimes you gotta lose to win.

SLAM: I heard that you wanted to go to Michigan when you were younger. As a New York native, how’d you become a Michigan fan?

AT: I guess it was the Fab Five shit. The black-on-black Nikes, the black socks, the baggy shorts. Maybe that’s why I didn’t play ball too well ‘cuz it was like, if I had the Big East mentality I’d probably still be ballin’ today.

SLAM: I see you’ve got the bred Jordan Is on. What other kicks are in your current rotation?

AT: I just keep Is. I got ’99 IVs, I got ’99 Vs. I used to shit on n****s. But I don’t see no joy in it no more. I see everybody being crabs in the bucket with it. It’s like ‘Oh, I got these joints, I got these.’ And it’s like, all this shit ain’t that hard to find if you wanna look for it, people. And the prices n****s be paying for sneakers is like, what I paid for my ‘99s cheap! $250. Y’all paying thousands of dollars for these bumass—sneaker game dead, bro. I just wear Js or Nikes. I keep it Is or Air Max 90s. Air Max Zero is the best sneaker out right now.

SLAM: You just put out the track “Presidents” with Rocky and Nast as part of the Wavy Wednesday series. Are these songs you’ve been sitting on or are they brand new?

AT: Half and half. Half were brand new, and half have been sitting in the vault for three or four years. ‘Presidents’ was supposed to be on the first Mob tape, so I’d say ‘Presidents’ is 2013. So all these records are pretty, pretty vintage at this point. Pretty classic, pretty sat on. You just let the energy of the record build itself. You don’t speak on it, you just leave it. That’s how we do—there’s no pressure. Everybody says ‘pressure makes diamonds,’ but also pressure causes confusion. We do shit on our own time.

SLAM: What’s up next for you and the rest of the A$AP Mob?

AT: We got the Cozy Tapes, then we got Ferg’s album, Always Strive and Prosper, and then my project, 2127301090. My project has been done for years, bro. If I’d have rushed it before, I probably would’ve fell on my face. So now it’s perfect timing. It sounds like an album, so I’ll probably run with it as an album. I ain’t got no fear of it not selling as much. But I got phenomenal music on it. The quality is outstanding. I’m not looking for the money. I’m looking for the message. I wanna know that I touched you in a way that you’ll remember me forever. As with “Last Year Being Broke,” that’s something that you can live by every day or every year.

Photo credit: Nolan Persons