Twista is one of the best examples of being underrated as an MC because for all intents and purposes he should be on a lot of people’s Top 5 Dead or Alive lists. Holding it down for Chicago since the early 1990’s, Twista has a flow and lyrical ability that not many artists can even come close to matching. Twista released Kamikaze in 2004; his most commercially successful album to date that spawned such classic singles such as Slow Jamz and Overnight Celebrity. Few artists with 20 years in the game under their belt are as nice today as they were when they came in but Twista isn’t your average artist and with his release of the Back To The Basics EP and his upcoming album Dark Horse, fans of that vintage Twista sound are in for a treat. I sat down with Twista to discuss his upcoming album, the new generation of rappers in Chicago, and why some artists might be scared to feature him on a track.
Men’s Mag Daily: Twista, for a while Chicago was kind of a forgotten city in terms of national hip-hop. A few big artists such as yourself, Common, or Kanye would pop up but you guys didn’t get the same attention as a New York, Cali, Philly, Houston, or Atlanta. Why do you think Chicago is finally getting some serious attention now?
Twista: I think we got a lot of talented artists, you know? It’s mostly about the talent but you know, recently the spotlight has been on Chicago because of a lot of things that may go on here such as the violence which is real negative and while they’re looking at that they get to see that talent too which is most definitely a positive. It’s really a case of things just coming full circle. It’s a sing of the times really.
Men’s Mag Daily: A lot of the talented artists coming out of Chicago are really young. Do a lot of them look at you as being the blueprint for a successful hip-hop artist from Chicago?
Twista: Um, sometimes. Some of these young cats are so much in their own lane and doing their thing that they don’t really need a blueprint to do what they do. They’re carving a path themselves. But I mean I do get the young cats coming through sometimes for advice, like “Twis, you went through this man, what do you think?” Those conversations will happen sometimes. I’m glad they view me as like the OG of the city and I definitely accept that role.
Men’s Mag Daily: You recently laid down a verse on Lady Gaga’s album. Did you ever think you would be making an appearance on a pop album of that magnitude?
Twista: Nah man, that was definitely a surprise man. That was definitely a surprise. (Laughs) I was surprised that she was even that familiar with my music. I had mentioned her name in a couple of verses and I wondered, “Damn, what if she ever heard this and needed me to lay a verse?” (Laughs) Things king of worked out just like that.
Men’s Mag Daily: Does doing something like that kind of expand your fan base, and open you up to people that normally wouldn’t have been fans of Twista?
Twista: Definitely, I mean she would tweet about my project and just to know that somebody on that level was taking an interest in what I was doing was like, “wow”. As an artist at this point in my career to be a part of that project was something reassuring for myself. It lets me know I’m doing a lot of things right.
Men’s Mag Daily: After all these years in the game, you’re still one of the most talented artists around. How do you manage to do it? How do you stay sharp?
Twista: Thank you man, I appreciate that, I really do. I think it’s just a matter of being that artists that keeps going whether it’s Nas, Jay-Z, or Cam’Ron I think I fit in that category. I think it’s about being a true MC and staying on top of your game. It’s about listening to the new stuff that’s coming out and still doing what I do but having an effect on them as well, you know?
Men’s Mag Daily: There were some rumors floating around that you were signing to G.O.O.D. music. Any truth to that?
Twista: Those are just rumors man. I remember that one was around for a nice minute because people just get it in their mind and run with it. It’s not a situation that I wouldn’t welcome. I’m at a certain point where I don’t have to chase people down or nothin’ like that but any label or any artist that wants to approach me I’m definitely game.
Men’s Mag Daily: Are you at the point where you’d like to sign your own artists and groom them into what you think they can be?
Twista: Yeah absolutely. That’s why I got the GMG label and if somebody pops out I’m gonna jump behind it 100%. Right now, we’re really in the development stages where the artists are just building up their fan base. We’re doing a lot of things man. We also have GMG management as well so we have two artists that are probably getting signed this year that you will probably hear about as well.
Men’s Mag Daily: So you’re really getting active in the business side of things?
Twista: Yeah definitely, I mean I think you just grow into it after being an artist for so long. You see another part of the business and you just naturally take an interest in it. I got knowledge to spread around and with the management I’d like to help bring an artist up right, let them know how the game is and everything.
Men’s Mag Daily: You released the Back To The Basics EP not too long ago and I like it a lot. It had a real vintage Twista sounds. What did you want to get across to the fans with this EP?
Twista: I just wanted to be me man. It seems like every one or two years I might get a little lost, hear some new hot shit and get lost in it and steer away from what it is that I do. But then I remember that I have fans and they want Twista. My main goal is to always satisfy them. I just put myself on lockdown and once I do that swag come out and I just start recording songs. It was me showing them that this is where I should be at this level in my career and that’s what they want.
Men’s Mag Daily: So you feel your best when you stay in that Twista lane?
Twista: Yeah definitely, I mean when you think of Twista obviously people think of fast lyrics but there’s a lot of styles within that whether it’s different cadences or whatever but really it’s just about being real lyrical. That’s the Twista lane. Sometimes I might talk about a specific topic but for me really I just go hard.
Men’s Mag Daily: I listen to you spit and I just wonder how you can be that lyrical and rhyme that fast.
Twista: I think a lot of people are able to come up with the cadences and the flows but not as capable of being lyrical. Some people are able to be lyrical but they just might not be able to hit that flow. And then you have some artists that can do both with ease, somebody like me or Eminem. We can do both with ease.
Men’s Mag Daily: Has anybody ever had to keep you off a track because they knew you would kill the song and make them look bad?
Twista: Not just straight up like that but there’s always a lot of jokes cracked like, “I wanna hear what Twista did first before I lay my verse” or “Twista don’t go too hard” and I take that as a major compliment because I definitely try and go hard with every verse.
Men’s Mag Daily: You put out the single with R. Kelly pretty recently. How’s that been doing for you?
Twista: It’s been cool. It’s been cool but it’s lukewarm and I think that’s because me and Kells didn’t actually get in the studio together but it’s cool for the fans. Next time around I I’m definitely gonna give them something that’s a little more vintage Twista. I’m gonna get in the studio with Traxster. Every artist has a producer that they feel just brings out that best sound and for me that’s Traxster so we’re gonna make that happen.
Men’s Mag Daily: Was that a single for an upcoming album?
Twista: Yeah definitely, that was for the Dark Horse album which is comin’ up. It’s been pushed back a few times but it’s coming out in Spring or Fall. I’m finishing it up now.
Men’s Mag Daily: What direction are you going to be taking with this Dark Horse album?
Twista: The Dark Horse album is gonna be like a lengthy version of the EP. You’re gonna get what you got on the Back To The Basics EP but with those 12 or 13 tracks. It’s gonna be that vintage Twista sound. One track I might talk about the streets, then I might talk about the ladies, and one track might just be on some intergalactic shit where I’m talkin’ about DNA, atoms, you know. (Laughs) On that level I’m gonna be trying to come with something different.
Men’s Mag Daily: Twista, what are you listening to right now in terms of hip-hop?
Twista: All of it man, I be turnin’ up. I listen to all the trap music, the artists comin’ out of New York, the young artists here in the Chi, the artists comin’ out of Atlanta. I listen to all of that, everything from a Young Thug to a Joey Badass in New York. I listen to Joey Badass because he reminds me of Black Moon. I get the same feeling from him as when I listen to Black Moon. I just be getting’ into my little zones.
Men’s Mag Daily: Do you think that staying current with what’s going on in hip-hop helps you stay on top of your game?
Twista: Yeah, definitely. They’re the youth and you gotta listen to that. You gotta try and understand their whole vibe and what they do. They’re the future. It definitely helps me to stay sharp, you know?
Men’s Mag Daily: When you need to handle business do you feel like you completely need to step out of your role as an artist and approach it completely differently?
Twista: Sometimes you do. Sometimes you may have to ignore what you think is hot, or what the single should be and just go with what is going to be the best decision business wise. You need to know how to separate yourself from the music when it comes to making a good business decision. Then again, you gotta know when to ignore the business and go with your heart so it’s a thin line.
Men’s Mag Daily: Alright Twista, it was a pleasure speaking with you. Tell the fans everything you have coming up.
Twista: The Dark Horse album is coming and that’s what I’m really focused on now man. Also people should look out for everything that has to do with GMG whether it’s new artists or anything. It’s Twista, GMG, and that Dark Horse album. Pay attention to the lyrics because I’m gonna be talkin’ some crazy shit this album.
Article By: Jon DaBove