by Dru Hepkins
Unbeknownst to most, Twista’s tornado into the rap game began as far back as ’91 – and he’s still here stronger than ever. There aren’t too many rap artists from the late 80’s or early 90’s that can boast of that kind of longevity. Twista can put another feather in his pimp hat for how he’s done it; the man is on pace for growing larger with each decade. Twista has risen from his notoriety as the Guinness Book of World Record’s “Fastest Rapper” in the 90’s, all the way to his smash hit single “Slow Jams” with Kanye West and Jamie Fox. In 2007 Twista has blown his way to NYC promoting his new album “Adrenaline Rush” out in stores this August and MVRemix had an exclusive sit down with the Chi-town icon.
MVRemix: Many people may not know that you’ve been on the scene since ’91. Describe your entrance into the game.
Twista: I’m like Christopher Columbus baby – I been discovered and around for years! Nah [laughs], I won a contest to get on the radio. From that contest I met my first manager. From that manager, I met a promoter who worked for Loud Records in LA. A guy named Fade who worked at Loud heard my stuff and I was rapping all fast and shit–and no one else was doing that. We all set it off from there – that was in ’91.
MVRemix: What were your musical influences at the time?
Twista: A lot of the stuff that I used to hear in the Taverns, you know? Like that my step pop used to play. He used to DJ in this Tavern around the way. So my very first influence was him playing a lot of blues and slow jams. But the movie that started it all for me was Crush Groove. Once I seen it that was it – it was on and poppin’ after that.
MVRemix: Would you say hip hop today is on a decline or are we in a good place?
Twista: I would say we in a cocoon like stage…and when it hatches I don’t know what the fuck is gonna happen [laughs].
MVRemix: So you’re pleased with what’s coming out lately?
Twista: Man, when you stop liking things, you really got to stop and wonder if it’s really just you getting old. Once you stop liking stuff that’s usually the case. You gotta think about what you was talking about as a young rapper, you know what I’m saying?
MVRemix: I know you’ve been asked a million times, but describe your affiliations with Kanye and the with the Roc.
Twista: I met Kanye in Chicago and I would always see him. A lot of times I’d go to his house and listen to different beats and just hang out. I used watch Kanye and my other man battle all the time. Kanye always thought he could beat everybody and him and my boy thought they could beat each other so we used to sit and watch them go at it. This was back before everything. We had regular, fun, hip hop times.
MVRemix: In the South it’s hooky and bouncy, in the east we look for lyrics, what’s the Chi-town hip hop scene like?
Twista: It’s a melting pot. We got a lot of Common, we got a lot of Kanye, but then you also got people like Mickey who was down with Cash Money Records at one time. You got the street and the style element with acts like me, Crucial Conflict, Do or Die – we got our own sound.
MVRemix: Is that a good or bad thing for blowing up into the mainstream?
Twista: It does make it harder. That’s kind of the same reason why it’s been so hard for the Midwest to get in, every coast caters to their audience. Everyone has to sell something to somewhere, and everybody on the outskirts sells to the middle. But it’s hard for us in the middle to really branch out to everyone else.
MVRemix: I know house is pretty big in Chicago. Do you listen to house?
Twista: Oh yea – for sure. House is big out there and sure it influences some of the music. You don’t realize but you could blend my whole album to a house track.
MVRemix: Are there any house DJ’s you pay homage to?
Twista: Fast Eddy. That’s my man right there. We gonna work together in the future too.
MVRemix: What would you say is the secret to your longevity?
Twista: Man – Chicago is like Count Crystal Lake and I’m Jason. [The industry] tried to drown [Chicago]. Then they tried to swim threw our city like shit is all sweet then I jumped out the water all scuffed up with the blade in hand just hacking mother fuckers up. Then it’s Jason more cheese part one, Jason more cheese part 2… and then you realize, no matter how many bogus deals I get, no matter how many fucked up sound scan albums he put out, Twista, “The Black Jason of Rap”, always keep coming back.
MVRemix: Besides your Guinness Book of Records recognized fast flow, what else sets you apart from the rest?
Twista: Hmmm… [pause] Aside from the fast flow… style. Even it it’s not fast, it’s the way I’ll rap to a beat. No matter what track I’m featured on, I take the way I flow over the beat to heart. I put my all into giving them what I think they want and what I think the track needs.
MVRemix: In your opinion, what’s your highest achievement thus far?
Twista: Not just music?
MVRemix: Anything, anything you’re most proud of or anything that made you look back and say, ok this is my pinnacle, or anything that made you say, “I made it.”
Twista: Man… [pause] That’s a good question. Everything I got. But I think it’s when I first bought my house, and when I was able to take care of my family. Flat out, being able to pay bills and take care of my family.
MVRemix: When did you buy the house?
Twista: Man… I can’t even remember. Recently though. Just recently.
MVRemix: Was there a memorable low point of your career where you were feeling “I just don’t know”.
Twista: Oh yeah. I wasn’t always a happy Atlantic [Records] artist. I’ve been going through a lot of trials and tribulations. I been rapping since 12 and I got a deal at 18. So I grew up in the industry and when I first got a deal that’s when niggas came at me with pistols and shit, that’s when I had to run and hide for my life and shit.
MVRemix: Our publication caters to an audience of hip hop lovers, many who are trying to get in the game or just simply fans of hip hop. As a successful artist with impressive longevity, what advice would you give to aspiring rappers looking at you?
Twista: Let ’em bite in the neck 3 times and you’ll live long [laughs]. Nah, but like I said – stay youthful. Once you see the “Walk it Out” and the “Chicken Noodle Soup”, and you diss and put them in a category, understand it’s a style of music. They all blowin’ up so people must wanna hear it. So you got to figure “Okay, how can I not be into that?” But give them just a little to compromise. But stay young – try to understand all this young new music, and be smart and intelligent.
MVRemix: After the Imus situation, a lot of focus has been placed on the vulgarity of rap lyrics. What’s your take on the situation?
Twista: I think we straight. We just take a couple blows when somebody do something wrong and need somebody to blame. I think hip hop was cool and people just search around in other directions. What should be addressed was what was said. [Hip hop is] cultural music. It got huge but it’s still cultural music. That’s just how we feel and we understand it. Ain’t nobody getting mad. Don’t walk in our kitchen and tell is to turn our music down. The day my black sisters band together and say they don’t like it – then that’s when I’ll stop.
MVRemix: Your album. You came out with “Adrenaline Rush” in 1997, why “Adrenaline Rush” in 2007?
Twista: Just bringing it back. It’s 10 years later. I’m a numbers person and I like the number 7 and we coming back in 07. So it’s 07, 10 years later, let’s hit ’em with an adrenaline rush again.
MVRemix: What will we be hearing in this album that we haven’t heard before?
Twista: Slow lyrics. People heard [slower lyrics from me] before – but not in the way you gonna hear it in this album. It’s enough to make a fan say damn – he snapped!
MVRemix: So is the fast rap thing something you eventually want to evolve out of?
Twista: I want to stay me, but I definitely want to give different things and a little something new every time.
MVRemix: Any parting words?
Twista: To hear more from Twista, grab that Speed knot Mobsters album, “Nation Business” coming to you in October. To a theater near you! [laughs].
MVRemix: And “Adrenaline Rush” of course.
Twista: Oh yeah, of course. Twista the Black Jason coming out in store near you!