There are'nt too many that can top Twista's fast rhyme-spitting style. He’s the man Ludacris, P. Diddy, Timbaland and Three 6 Mafia call when they need someone to take their records over the top. He’s the MC whose style has been imitated by scores of rappers. He’s the underground legend ready to return to the game he helped revolutionize. That’s right, Twista is back, and after years of making hits for other artists, the Chicago pioneer is about to release his most important album — the highly anticipated “KAMIKAZE.” With 1997’s “Adrenaline Rush,” Twista showed how the rapid-fire flow was supposed to go. Now, with “KAMIKAZE,” he shows what it is like when he elevates his own style. “KAMIKAZE represents two things,” Twista explains. “On a surface level, I was like, What could I come with after ‘Adrenaline Rush’? What’s the ultimate adrenaline rush? It’s going kamikaze. On another level, I feel like I’m going into the game kamikaze. We know its fucked up, but we’ve got to get a certain goal and we’re trying to achieve it.”
Long-time Twista fans, who have been following the motor-mouth MC since he was named the world’s fastest rapper by the Guinness Book Of World Records more than a decade ago, will be thrilled that several “KAMIKAZE” cuts build directly off his classic material. “Kill Us All,” for example, is a sequel of sorts to the classic album’s title track. “I was trying to do that like ‘Adrenaline Rush,’” Twista says. “I know I’m going to do ‘Overdose’ part two and I’m going to pick that up right where I left off, with the same little lyrics where I got cut off at. I’m going to pick that up where I left off because it had that beat and that vibe and I just started zoning to it one day while I was sitting in the studio. I started pacing the hall and started thinking of some deep, crazy, shit.”
Twista also re-ups on the new version of “Feel So Good.” The new version, which was produced by long-time collaborator Toxic and which features Jazze Pha on the chorus, features Twista rapping smoother, slower and working the ladies. In another twist, Twista gives women the personality of drinks on the aptly titled “Drinks.” Over a funky, Toxic-produced beat, Twista mixes and matches the personalities of Crown Royal, Alize and others into a compelling lyrical exercise.
“I wanted to do something different,” Twista explains. “I like the ladies and the beat felt like that West Coast club shit. I started thinking about the club and the chicks. Toxic was sitting around like, ‘What’s your favorite drink?’ We got the hook together and then on top of the beat I started rapping to it.” Although he’s known for his machine-gun raps, Twista uses “KAMIKAZE” to display his full rapping range. Over a gangstered out track from Kanye West (Jay-Z, Scarface and others), Twista slows down his delivery pattern and displays how effective he can be with any style on “One Last Time.” “I want people to hear that I can bring it any type of way that I want to bring it,” he explains. “I don’t really have to pop it fast, but I know that that’s what people want to hear. But at the same time, I want to make tracks where people can like my other stuff. It’s about my creativity.”
Much of Twista’s creativity comes from the West Side Chicago streets on which he was raised. Home to pimps, players, macks, prostitutes and other underworld figures, this section of Chicago has served as the backdrop for many of Twista’s rhymes. On “Pimp On,” Twista teams with 8Ball and Too $hort, as well as famous Chicago pimp The Arch Bishop Don Magic Juan, for a breakdown of the way of his native streets, and a nod to the song that first brought him to prominence. “It represents what I started from,” Twista says of “Pimp On.” “The first thing that really put me out there, that people really heard me on, was the Do Or Die song ‘Po Pimp.’ It’s not as much about sticking to the whole thing of pimping, it’s just the vibe where we’re from in the city. I wanted to carry on that vibe and represent where I’m from. And then, I wanted to put down some true players.”
One of the most influential and mimicked players in the game, Twista feels that he doesn’t always get the respect he deserves from other artists in the game. On the dramatic “Show’s Over” (which also features Freeway and Legit Ballin’ member Beanie Franks) as well as the venomous “I Got This,” Twista lets loose on his detractors. On the latter, he gives an abbreviated run-down of his illustrious career and addresses many of the rumors that have surrounded him since he released “Adrenaline Rush.” "I was kicking it around with the rumors,” he says. “I was letting people know that I’m back and I’ve got a style that people bite a lot. All ya’ll got your rumors, so let me tell you the real.”
On the real, Twista is one of the most important figures in rap history. Before others rode rapid-fire rhyming to the top of the charts, Twista employed the style on his overlooked debut album, 1991’s “Runnin’ Off At Da Mouth” (released as Tung Twista).
After a few years on the DL, Twista reemerged with Do Or Die on the classic “Po Pimp,” setting the stage for his triumphant return. The result was the classic “Adrenaline Rush” album, a collection that regularly appears on Billboard’s rap catalog album chart today. In 1998, he released “Mobstablility” with the Speedknot Mobstaz before launching his Legit Ballin’ imprint, which has released three critically acclaimed and ghetto gold compilations.
All the while, Twista has been honing his craft and looking for the right time to return. “I represent for the MCs that have skills, not just make music for the hell of it,” he says. “I take the time to concentrate. Otherwise, I could have 10 albums out there, easy. I could sit down all day and write something. But I write when I get in a zone more than writing because I’ve got to do this. I represent the artists that keep it true to what really is, to be able to make rappers want to write.” Twista accomplishes his goal on “KAMIKAZE,” an album that solidifies his place as one of the premier rappers ever to clutch a microphone and marks his return to the top of the game.
“I want to show the streets that I’m back and that I’m true to the game,” Twista proclaims. Musically, I want to show that I’m still out here doing my thing. After all the people that were out when I was out years ago fell off, I’m still out here competing with the shorties. I also want to gain platinum success. It’s something that I haven’t done.” Until now.
Twista: Fast Talk, Slow Climb
Most people think 13 is an unlucky number, but for Twista, it's been a charm. Thirteen years ago, Twista — then known as Tung Twista — was little more than a rap novelty act. He debuted with the LP Runnin' Off at Da Mouth and later broke the world record for fastest rapper, but Twista struggled to gain widespread acceptance.
In 1996 he came back hard, courtesy of fellow Chicago natives Do or Die and their hit single "Po Pimp." Instead of just kicking laser-quick battle raps, Twista was more refined and came with fleet-mouthed playa talk.
Over the past few years, Twista has mastered the art of guest appearances. Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Lil' Kim and Ludacris are just a few that have called on Twista to murder their tracks. But leave it to Chi-Town to really blow Twista up. Last year he and another Windy City hit man, Kanye West, exchanged ideas and conceived the record "Slow Jamz." With the biggest song of his career and a #1 album, Kamikaze, selling faster than he can spit bars, Twista says now that the masses love him, he's not going to stop.
MTV News' Shaheem Reid sat down with Twist to get up to speed on "Slow Jamz," Jamie Foxx, his world record and the long road that got him here.
MTV: It's been a while since we got a Twista solo album. What took so long?
Twista: I'm just really trying to get some stability in the game. You know, when we first started out I was going through an independent [label] assigned to Atlantic, and when I started to come across problems and everything, you know, I was trying to leave the label. While I was out on my own, I was clicking with Puffy and things like that, and he was trying to negotiate something for me to jump down on Bad Boy for a minute. You know, just trying to get a feel for what I was trying to do. Once I really got concrete on what I wanted I was, "OK, it's time to really have a sit-down with Atlantic and talk about what I need, what I'm cool with and everything, and see if we could just iron it on out." So we ironed it out, [I'm] back on Atlantic doing my thing, no independent involved, worked on my album, and then a year passed, and another year, and I'm like, "Damn, I'm ready to put the album out." You know, we had to come up with the right single. It was better to come with the right single than to try to rush the album, so I basically just held the album and kept releasing songs until one of them caught on good enough for me to feel like it's time to release the album.
MTV: "Slow Jamz" is definitely the right single. What's it like, being a veteran who's been in the game over 10 years, to have the biggest song of your career?
Twista: It lets you know that all of that blood, sweat and tears that you put in, it wasn't for nothing. 'Cause at first you start to think, "What is it, man? Should I do this? Should I do that? Man, let me start looking into some other things after so many years."
MTV: What do you think it is about "Slow Jamz" that made it such a hit?
Twista: I think it's a collaboration of everything, like with what Kanye brought musically and his lyrics. Me, what I brought lyrically, the concept behind the song, being able to flip all of the old singles like that, but one of the things I think was the biggest help for the song was Jamie Foxx and his hook, the "Marvin Gaye, some Luther Vandross," and once they start singing that it was over.
MTV: In this age of ProTools and whatnot, for a lot of collaborations someone does a track here, you do a track there, and nobody's ever in the studio together. Was it like that for "Slow Jamz"?
Twista: We did a lot of work with the "Slow Jamz" record before we went to the studio. So when we actually recorded our lyrics, we weren't there together, but we sat in the car together and collaborated on it, sat on the phone together and collaborated on it, so by the time it came time to record it we were communicating. ... And even after the lyrics were laid we came back to the studio and collaborated on the mix and made sure everything was tight.
MTV: The video is funny, it's sexy, and there are a lot of things going on in there, but it's simple too.
Twista: Yeah, you know, [directors the] Fat Cats and Kanye, man, they just came together on the idea and really wanted to keep it simple. Like, instead of big mansions, the cars and all of that stuff, we wanted to focus more on the song and more on the party vibe and the fun of the song.
MTV: How was it working with Jamie Foxx?
Twista: Jamie is a fool. The Jamie you see on TV is the Jamie you're gonna get — the crazy, outrageous, "wow" acting guy ... had us dying laughing the whole time. Oh man, I hope I get to work with him again.
MTV: A lot of people who rap rapid-fire, you can't really understand everything they say, but you manage to be fast and clear at the same time. How do you do that?
Twista: I think a lot of artists that rap or want to rap in that style focus more on the speed and the style than they do the clarity. They've got it locked in their mind "I want to do it fast" or "I want to do it like this," but with me I always go about the clarity first, and if I couldn't say it [clearly] I'm not gonna write it. ... If I can't get it all the way out or make it sound crisp or it's not within my vocal range or something, I won't even mess with it.
MTV: On a couple of songs on this album you've definitely slowed down the flow a little. Why was that?
Twista: I was running across different beats that I was like, "Man, I still wanna use that beat even though I can't do my fast-paced style to it," so I just really wanted to open it up a little bit and be like, "OK, let me give you like 70 percent of the album as that original Twista Adrenaline Rush mode, but now let me bring you to a new phase of it to introduce you to the fact that look, I can bring lyrics now, we can do it with just the slow flow."
MTV: In 1992 you earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's fastest rapper. Are you still the fastest?
Twista: I think there's one other person who might have beat the record, so pretty soon you're going to see me back in the studio going somewhere or doing something as far as breaking the record.
Twista's Speedknot Mobstaz Return To Hardcore
Coming off the success of his sophomore album Kamikaze, Chicago rapper Twista is now ready to re-introduce his hometown rap crew Speedknot Mobstaz.
And he's vowing that his squad will break barriers in the next year.
"We are coming with nothing but hardcore raw Chicago rhymes that have never been projected in history," Twista told AllHipHop.com. "And at the same time we are giving you our roots as far as having real stories backed by old school beats."
The quick-tongued emcee, credited as the world's fastest rapper by the Guinness Book of World Records, admitted that his involvement with the Mobstaz tends to bring out his grittier, hard side.
"We crew homies and we love to do the music together so we had to do it," Twista said of the group's reemergence. "This is my legacy. When I first came out with [my 1997 debut album] Adrenaline Rush, we connected. It's a protocol to these things, we knew we had to do it and now the time is right."
Twista's first collaboration with fellow lyricists, MC Mayz and Liffy Stokes, was back in 1998 with the release of the gold-selling Mobstability.
Afterwards, Twista started his own Legit Ballin' label and released three compilations.
"We were out before all of these other groups and still moving units," Twista boasted, ending with the defiant statement, "The Mobstaz are about to take over so if anybody has anything to say, speak now or forever hold your peace."
Twista plans to tour with Atlanta rapper T.I. before setting out on various tours for the next year and a half.
The Speedknot Mobstaz album is due out by the end of this year or early next year.
Twista, Faith Evans Spin Tales From Tats In 'Hope'
Twista also has Kamikaze follow-up and projects with Speedknot Mobstaz and Christina Milian in the works. If tattoos are like pictures and every picture tells a story, then Twista's new video for "Hope" spins enough tales to rival the Brothers Grimm.
The rapid-fire rapper and guest collaborator Faith Evans assume the roles of narrators in the
sobering yet optimistic clip, which was shot by director Chris Robinson (Jay-Z, Alicia Keys) earlier this month. As the two pass unnoticed from scene to scene like all-knowing specters, life stories emerge from people's tattoos.
"Hope" serves as the first single off the soundtrack to "Coach Carter" (see "Kanye, Fabolous, Twista Make 'Coach Carter' Soundtrack A Slam Dunk"), and film footage will be integrated into the actors' personal accounts. The video is expected to surface by mid-month, according to a Capitol Records spokesperson.
The version of "Hope" that appears on the soundtrack and has just begun to surface at radio is a remix of the track off Twista's last album, Kamikaze. Instead of a supporting role from Faith Evans, the album track features Dirty South soul slinger Cee-Lo.
In between other projects — like working with his crew the Speedknot Mobstaz for a record due early next year and assisting Christina Milian with a track for her upcoming album — Twista will spend the next few months on the follow-up to Kamikaze. And while even the man himself doesn't know whether he'll be able to top the most successful album of his 14-year career, he's at least confident in his approach.
"It might be easy, it might be hard, but I think I got some nice joints in store," Twista said. "I'm just going to try to keep it real, real hype and serve 'em up with that original rap — how it's supposed to go."
Twista hopes to drop the album in the summer. His planned due date doesn't have anything to do with schemes devised by his label's high-level marketing execs, however. Rather, it's simply a matter of aesthetics.
"That's when you can cruise in the fresh ride, on your 22s, bumpin' with the top down," he explained.
Still, there's a drawback to being one of the year's most celebrated MCs. Milian, the Mobstaz and a host of other artists aren't the only folks who have T's number on speed dial — they're just the most famous.
"Losing privacy," Twista said, offering a curse to counteract the gift that 2004 has been. "People at you all the time, you turn into a money bag. Somebody once said, 'When the blood get in the water, the sharks come out.' "
Twista Proclaims Himself The Remix King
Disc expected to include his work with Usher, Mobb Deep, R. Kelly. Who better than Twista to put a twist on the remix-album concept?
While past releases under that banner have featured remixes of a certain artist's album cuts, Twista's The Remix King is a compilation of remixes of other artist's songs that he's rapped on.
"In case y'all didn't know, I'm the remix king and I've been blessed to get on a whole lot of hot albums this year, so we got an album coming out like the first or second week of November," Twista said recently. "It's got all the hottest cuts that have been put out like the past year and a half."
The track list has yet to be finalized, but it will definitely include Mobb Deep's "Got It Twisted" remix with Twista. Other possibilities include Sting's "Stolen Car (Take Me Dancing)" (see "Twista Fast-Talks His Way Into A Sting Video") and David Banner's "Like a Pimp" with Twista and Busta Rhymes.
One remix Twista would especially like to include is the new version of Usher's "Confessions, Pt. 2," which also features Kanye West and Shyne.
"When Usher first came out, I got on the remix with him for 'Nice & Slow,' and I'm just glad that he had me come back and jump on this cut, 'cause 'Confessions' is off the hook," Twista said. "That's my rap pace right there, so he had to put the boy Twista on there. It's love."
The Remix King will also feature a few new Twista tracks as well as remixes of his own hits, including his new single, "So Sexy," with R. Kelly.
"It's called 'Like This,' " Twista said of the "So Sexy" remix. "Me and R. Kelly representin' the Midwest like we supposed to."
"You ain't never heard a slow jam like this," he sang, offering a sneak peek. "You ain't never heard a remix like this."
Twista Finds Hope With Faith
Twista has re-released his song 'Hope' but with Faith Evans instead of the original co-vocalist Cee-Lo. The new version of the song appears in the movie 'Coach Carter' starring Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson plays the controversial high school basketball coach who benched his undefeated team due to their collective poor academic record in 1999.
The song was originally on Twista's 'Kamikaze' album.