Twista's dreams of hip-hop superstardom have
been deferred more times than a little bit. Twista is widely accepted as one
of the rap word's most talented wordsmiths. His rhythmic, staccato delivery
has endeared him to legions of fans while mainstream notoriety, of the MTV and
endorsement deal variety, has continually eluded his grasp.
Lacking any ego, almost to a fault, he speaks
frankly about suspect career choices, a rarity among the tendency of most emcee's
to think they know it all. Though has he has remained on the radar with notable
guest verses (check Lil Kim's "Thug Love") and independent projects,
it's been six long years since his platinum major label debut Adrenaline
He's back in grind mode readying his latest album,
Kamikaze, which is loaded with appearances by Ludacris, 8 Ball, Too Short,
Freeway and Cee Lo along with production from Toxic, Kanye West and Timbaland.
Twista's long awaited album is slated for a firm July 29th release date.
AllHipHop.com: Why did you name you new album Kamikaze?
Twista: I wanted to pick a title that I felt
was a good follow up to Adrenaline Rush. I was like "what's the
ultimate adrenaline rush?" And it's going in kamikaze in any situation.
It ain't necessarily like a war situation or nothing. But it can be like the
game of life or in this industry or whatever. Going in, taking care of your
business, getting what you trying to do accomplished, even though you know you
gonna get scuffed up in the process.
AllHipHop: Kamikazes were the Japanese suicide
pilots in World War 2, how do you feel about the current state of affairs in
Twista: Man, I feel like there's two sides to
the whole thing and you gotta respect both sides. On one hand I feel like even
though the ones that want peace want peace, it doesn't mean that they necessarily…some
of them are totally against George Bush or whatever, but it doesn't necessarily
mean that all of them against, it's just that they want peace. They don't feel
people should kill people and some people feel like that's so wrong that whoever's
doing it, they just against it. They protest. Then you got other ones on the
other side or people that's for what George Bush is doing and you got people
that got families and fathers and uncles and cousins over there that's fighting.
And when these people out there you supporting what's going on because you want
your people to come home. So you're hoping for the mission to be successful.
You love your momma, you love your daddy, you want them to come home. Me I respect
both side of what's going on.
AllHipHop: Your album was originally supposed
to come out early this year, what's been the hold up?
Twista: Yeah, it kept getting pushed back. I
guess Atlantic (Records) wanted me to come back with more heat or whatever,
I don't know what was going on. But we was really pushing it back so we could
have the right right set up before we just put it out there. I respected
them for pushing it back. Now we at the point where this the last day, it can't
get pushed back no more. We're just going to put it out there.
AllHipHop: How do you feel this new album compares
to your past work?
Twista: I feel like it's just as good if not
better. I got stuff on there that I slowed down a little bit. Not just to do
it but just to show you, "n*gga I got the slow flow too." Just giving
them extra styles and stuff like that. That's all I really be on man, styles
and metaphors and lyrics. Show that I can do my thing in the game. I felt I've
put it in a way where people can accept it better.
AllHipHop: How have you grown specifically as
Twista: (I'm) More experienced in the game, especially
(because of) traveling. When you do tours and stuff like that you see heads
bounce a different way. You might be in New York and everybody rocking one way
or doing the Harlem Shake, you may go down South and they're Bankhead Bouncing
and they got the double time beat. You just learn a lot about what different
people like as far as when you're on the road and just seeing different cults
and what different places rock to different stuff. When you sit back down you
got more things added in your arsenal when at first you wasn't thinking about
that when you was writing. You was regional with your thing. Everybody who liked
it, liked it because they like that vibe, but then you get a chance to make
some music that they might like and it can widen your whole thing.
AllHipHop: In all your travels what's been your
Twista: Really Chicago because I can get crunk
in Chicago. St. Louis, Mississippi and Memphis…I like Atlanta a lot. Small
spots too. It might be something like Iowa or Kentucky where we might go to
do shows. Cincinnati, Ohio; places you would never expect but you go there and
they be vibing.
AllHipHop: You come off as a real humble person.
What has been one of your greatest faults as far as your career?
Twista: My communication skills. Communication
and solving and doing away with problems that's stretched out where if I would
have stepped up and put a fist into it on the communication level it would have
never stretched as long as it stretched. I say that with my label situation
and stuff like that where as like I went against the independent [Creator's
Way] and we was fighting. And I do feel like they were stubborn to the point
where we was never reaching a conclusion. "It's me, It's T," we all
love each other. We could have got it resolved and got through a lot of stuff
man. I'd probably be on my fourth album by now. I block people out and that's
like a personal thing. I'll tell you straight up on some real man sh*t, it's
a communication thing. When I get into it, or start to get angry with something
I block people out and push them aside instead of talking. Next thing you know
I'm thinking about you but I ain't hollered at you in a week in a half
or a month or two months.
AllHipHop: That must have stalled you career?
Twista: Sheeit! It stalled me about three years
man. I'd say a good two and a half, three years. Cause I got led into a situation…and
recently my old manager said some things about me in an article that I really
didn't appreciate, I could sh*t on her but I ain't even gonna do that. That's
AllHipHop: Are you talking about Wendy Day in
the story about you in XXL Magazine.?
Twista: Yeah, yeah. I feel like she taught me
a whole lot in the game. So I'll take the good and I'll just do away wit' the
bad, and I'm a take the good and she say she taught me a lot in the game. But
if could have done that situation over I would've don't it different, I'll just
AllHipHop: Have y'all at least spoken on it?
Twista: Nah, I ain't talk to her in a minute.
If I had a number on her I'd probably just hit her up and be like "What's
up?". I just ain't talked to her in a minute. I just moved on and tried
to block that out for a minute until I get back on my feet.
AllHipHop: Two joints stand out as far as taking
you from being an underground artist to potentially having great commercial
appeal. "Is This The End" on Puff Daddy's No Way Out album
and "Is That Your b*tch" off of Jay Z's original Vol 3. Life and
Times of S. Carter album, before the bootleggers got to it [it reappeared on Memphis Bleek's "Is That Your Chick (The Lost Verses)"]. How did
those songs manifest?
Twista: It was Puff. He approached me early while
I was recording the Adrenaline Rush album. He always liked me as an artist.
Really I feel like he was one of the blessings of my career. I could never really
thank him more for having love for a brother like, "Man, I like this n*gga
like that." I know I'm nice but at the same time there's a lot of n*ggas
that's nice. He ain't have to holla at me like that. That song…and Jay
Z, I feel the same way…
AllHipHop: Jay approached you too?
Twista: Yeah. Both of those songs, I needed those
two songs. I felt like those were two crucial points in my career.
AllHipHop: Both songs led to bidding wars with
Bad Boy and and Roc-a-Fella on separate occasions trying to contract your services
from Atlantic, how do you keep a level head?
Twista: It ain't even nothing I try to do. I
can't get in star mode. I know how to get on stage, entertain my fans and do
my thing but I just can't get on star mode. If I can't do it just being me,
then I can't do it. It ain't in me like that. It ain't nothing that I gotta
try to do when it coming to keeping a level head. If anything I gotta try to
get it crunk sometimes.
AllHipHop: How much of that money from your deal
in '97 did you actually see?
Twista: Not a lot. I ain't never really see too
much off the old deal. I'm a go nuts one day after it's all over. I never seen
much off of the cheese like that. But it's a lot I learned about the game. I've
found a pattern…or a recipe that works for me. I'm a run with it and it
makes me happy and it makes the label happy and I'm a just do that.
AllHipHop: How is this new deal different from
the previous one in?
Twista: Me being a different person and me having
more control because the middle label is not involved. Well, I wouldn't even
say more control cause in some ways it's less control. But just a better relationship.
And then me growing. Going through all that label sh*t, I don't want to go through
all of that stuff no more. I found a recipe that works for me, I can get mine,
they can get theirs and we all cool.
AllHipHop: A lot of rappers styles and flows,
whether inadvertently or not, come directly from you. Anyone you want to name?
Twista: Man, there's a lot of them but I'd kick
some drama off if I name that list right there! Whew! It's a nice amount of
them but what I'll say is I respect them because I see how it started, I see
how the style helped so many rap artists careers get started. Some of them picked
up a lot of stuff they heard from somebody else. To the ones that done it I
respect them because it eventually developed into their own thing. But it's
a couple of them that just be super bold with it and will just take my lines
and byte pattern after pattern! I'm sittin' here listening like, "All he
did was change the words!!!" It be tripping me out but ain't nothing you
can do about it. All you can do is just up your game. I just look at it as competition
to a certain level. Having to up your game and be colder.
AllHipHop: Are you still based out of Chicago?
Twista: Yeah but I'm about to get a crib out
here too. I got to because I can't be cramming all my days. Coming up here and
having 50,000 things to do in three or four days, I can't do it. (Laughing)
AllHipHop: How come you've never done a song
Twista: You know what, I always wanted to do
a song with Common but I honestly feel like his vibe is just so different from
mine. He is way over here doing something with a whole different crowd and I'm
way over here doing something with my whole different crowd. But we both respect
each other, I think to a certain level. He'll laugh at this probably, but I
think I had to earn his respect harder than he had to earn mine. And it's cool.
AllHipHop: What is the deal with your relationship
Twista: Right now, we just cool people. They
[Atlantic & Roc-a-Fella Records] talking though on the business side. But
I try not to pay attention. I'm trying to finish up an album. Have everything
laid out regardless. I'll let them handle it.
AllHipHop: Are you trying to out do other artists
when you appear on their tracks?
Twista: With my verses, if you ain't gonna attack
the track with a vicious pattern, then it's just gonna be like mine. And you
might come with a lazy flow, you might bust a lazy Fabolous flow. He got cold
ass rhymes and he be rappin lazy as hell (laughing). You might come with that
type of thing and do your thing. But I'm going to attack the track with a vicious
flow. The average person, their attention is going to get caught by it. That's
just my thing…I like that adrenaline rush.
AllHipHop: So that's how you lay it down in the
Twista: Yeah, that's why it's hard for me to
make a single. I always wanna go crazy on a track. It's hard for me to loosen
up a line or a bar when I know I could fill it up with sh*t and still spit it
and breath easy with it. It be hard for me to compromise and I'll be like "Damn,
let me try to go on kick a little something so they can feel it a little bit."