Sometimes Youtube’s algorithm can be really helpful. As you may know, G.Soul released his EP Natural on December 2021, and during a sleepless night, I wanted to listen to some covers of his song Natural. After watching 2-3 videos on YouTube, I found this little gem called TWLV (pronounced “twelve”; 트웰브 in Korean).
twlv is a South Korean singer, songwriter, and producer. He’s currently signed under The Tilde Entertainment, created last year by his manager. He was born on September 29, 1993. He already did his mandatory military service when he was 21, so there won’t be any two-years break (🤞🤞). To make it short, his music is mainly (alternative) rnb and hip-hop. Well, it depends on the project. twlv is not an artist that can be put in a box. For example, “ALL IN” released in July 2021 is a pop song with rnb vibes, while “Baby” from his Nobody EP is an rnb track influenced by Caribbean music. twlv is like a colorful chameleon whose brightness never ceases to amaze us.
He’s featured on several songs such as:
He also writes for other artists:
- Upper Side Dreamin’ by ENHYPEN (co-lyricist & co-composer);
- Calm & Passion (냉정과 열정 사이) by Nam Woo Hyun (co-writer);
- Party Girl by Jang Dong Woo (co-writer & co-producer).
twlv is the other half of the duo The Escape, which consists of him and Ji Min. They released their first EP ESCAPE PLAN 1 (In progress) in July 2017. There are only two tracks, but you know what they say, “quality matters more than quantity”, and their voices blend so well. My favorite song is “멀어지기 전에” [Before we grow apart? Before it goes away? Not sure about the translation 🤔]. It’s an alternative rnb song with nice backing vocals.
In 2018, twlv released on SoundCloud his first solo EP Nobody. However, he made his official solo debut with Content 1/2 released a few months later. The two EP are incredibly good. They both share a sensual scent that is unique to twlv. The artist transports us into a varied musical universe, and it’s such a voluptuous pleasure!
I think Contents 1/2 personifies twlv’s identity. His stage name comes from the fact that his music can be savored in the daylight (symbolized by noon) as well as nighttime (symbolized by midnight). When I first listened to this EP, I associated “Bodytalk” with day and “CRZY” with night. I was not entirely wrong but not entirely right either. Let me explain myself. Even though “Bodytalk” is more a summer song than “CRZY”, the reverb & echo effects on twlv’s voice create a dreamy atmosphere, a state between wakefulness and sleep, a time between day and night. Now when you look at the EP cover, you can see a sky at dusk and a semicircle representing the moment when the sun finishes its course. Moreover, the lyrics also highlight the night:
- Call me whenever you feel the moon;
- 달이 이뻐서 [the moon is so pretty];
- 아직 밤은 남았어 [the night is still young];
- 밤은 깊었고 [the night was deep].
As for “CRZY”, the guitar brings warmth to the song, twlv’s trap soul and CHANGMO’s verse add more energy to it. twlv and The Need created a sound more dynamic than a bedtime slow jam rnb song (don’t get me wrong, I like sexy slow jams too). I believe that Contents 1/2 embodies twlv’s identity in the manner of Russian matryoshka dolls. Each song represents on a smaller scale the concept of the EP, which is (in my opinion) an artistic way to tell us, “This is who I am”. If I had to choose one EP out of the two, I would take Nobody because it sets an incredibly high level. I enjoyed listening to all the tracks except “Baby”. “Badboy” and “CRZY” are the very best 🔥🔥🔥.
twlv is quite active on social media. I learned some interesting things when I joined his Twitter space a week ago. The man is kind of a geek: engineering studies, he loves math and science but hates books. Someone asked him how a songwriter can not like to read, and he said, “All I can write is about girls.” If I had to describe him, I would say “talented + wild lover (in his songs) + versatile”. He seems to be down-to-earth and very humble. I wish him the best. I’m pretty sure his fandom is called “bb” (babe? baby? bébé?) because:
When I was younger, I dated a basketball player wearing #12. He broke my heart into tiny little pieces 💔. But thanks to twlv, that number is now associated with songs like “CRZY”, “Grrrr”, “Holiday”, “Rewind”, and “ALL IN”. So let’s talk about those songs!
CRZY (Nobody) — CRZY (Contents 1/2)
I mentioned “CRZY” earlier, so I don’t have much to add except that “CRZY” from Contents 1/2 has CHANGMO on it, and packxday is featured on “CRZY” from Nobody. Each rapper brings his own personal touch. CHANGMO uses more autotune than packxday. Both songs are produced by The Need, the instrumental remains the same. However, “CRZY” from Contents 1/2 shows more interaction in the rap verse with the addition of twlv’s background vocals.
In his verse, CHANGMO says, “목소리마저도 감미로워 / 그댄 Violin” [Even your voice is sweet / You’re a violin]. This can just as easily apply to twlv whose voice adapts to a variety of musical styles and is equally suited to rnb, hip hop, and pop.
Grrrr — K.I.S.S (2020)
K.I.S.S is his first full album. It comes after the mini-album Blueline released under Yng & Rich Records in 2019. By the way, with tracks like “On Your Body” (“너의 몸에 벤”) , “In the Room” and “Eleven” (feat. BiBi), Blueline is absolutely worth your time.
Back to “Grrrr”. The title warns us that things gonna be wild. “Grrrr” is a sultry trap soul song with hypnotic vocals and melody. When you put together the instrumental, vocals, lyrics, and arrangement, it’s like listening to the personification of levitating sex. twlv knows how to set the mood. He understands the art of description, and that’s surprising for someone who doesn’t like to read. We can see and feel what we hear because the lyrics are well-written. He doesn’t say, “You’re so sexy, let’s f*ck”. No, no, no, no! He goes into detail:
이 순간 너는 bitch
넌 고개를 숙이네
다 번져버린 lips
헝클어진 이 sheet 위로 moving like a beast (grrrr)
빨갛게 물들여 know you like it babe
네 목에 나의 흔적을 남길게 cause
I took off my tie
Right now, you’re a bitch
You keep your head down
Like you’ve been waitin’
Moving like a beast on this tangled sheet (grrrr)
You’re turning red, I know you like it babe
Imma leave a mark on your neck cause
Holiday (한량) — ANTIFORMAL (2020)
ANTIFORMAL was released in August 2020 and only has cheerful or party songs. Maybe it was made to bury all the suffering we’ve been through since the beginning of the pandemic, or it was just about making people dance. I must confess I found the project quite superficial. There’s nothing wrong with summer songs. I just feel like this time something’s missing, but I can’t put my finger on it. The songs are good, yet taken as a whole, the EP lacks depth.
“Holiday” (한량) is my favorite track out of the six. The song features Paloalto and Lee Young Ji (이영지). twlv only sings the chorus and pre-chorus. I wish he had his own verse or at least a bridge. With a joyful summer beat and a catchy chorus, “Holiday” (한량) is the perfect track to fight depression and boredom. Your bank account is in the red? Play this song. Someone broke up with you over text? Play this song. Another lockdown? Play this song.
다신, 너에게 (Rewind) — Echoes (2021)
Echoes was released on his new label The Tilde Entertainment. No more trap soul. With this new direction, the singer intends to show us the real twlv. I don’t think he was faking it in his previous work (well, maybe ANTIFORMAL wasn’t entirely him). Personally, I see it as a simple artistic evolution. No one stays the same forever.
Echoes tells the story of the beginning and the end of a relationship with two different people. In his documentary Traces of your ECHOES, he said, “We are just people going on and off relationships. […] These relationships will repeat themselves and spread out like “echoes”. Thus, the album title.“
다신, 너에게 (Rewind) focuses on the end of the love story. The cacophony of screams and cries in the intro is beautifully disturbing. twlv wrote “Rewind” and conceived its music video about 2-3 years before the release. He wanted to create a song around the concept of time reversal, so he actually reversed some of the instruments. There’s a constant reminder of time in the instrumental (rewind sound effect, strong drum beat, clock ticking) and the lyrics:
- 오랜 시간 [a long time]
- 뒤돌아보지 않아 [I don’t look back]
- 끝 [the end]
- 시간 [time]
- 돌아간다 해도 [even if I go back]
I love everything about this song: the vocals, the instrumental, the prod, the music video. Speaking of the MV, I’ll post my review on Monday or Tuesday.
ALL IN (2021)
“ALL IN” is his newest song, and it almost killed me. I was singing in the shower, “Woo, woo! Try me, my babe! Come get it if you wanna know what’s in my hand!” Those were the only lyrics I knew so I kept warbling that part, and I don’t know if I hyped myself too much, but I tripped and fell down. This happened so fast, but I had the time to think, “I don’t wanna die naked”. Fortunately, I stood up one second later, and I started singing again, happy to be alive.
“ALL IN” tastes like pop music sprinkled with rnb and has a sweet aftertaste of Motown. The chorus and the bass guitar make the song so addictive! I also appreciate the trumpet in the last chorus. As usual, twlv gives us a superb vocal performance. I’m curious to know what twlv has in store for 2022.