Longtime Kanye West affiliate Twista excited the Internet recently when rumors began circulating that the rapid-fire rapper would soon be joining Ye’s label, G.O.O.D. Music. No doubt, some of the 76 percent who voted the label as the Chicago native’s ideal home in a recent XXL poll can recall tracks like "Slow Jamz" and "Overnight Celebrity" - songs that rank among his biggest hits and command a unique space in their producer, Kanye’s, 24-carat back catalog.
On those rumors, Twista is keen to set the record straight with AllHipHop.com. His upcoming album, The Dark Horse, is due for release on his own label, Get Money Gang Entertainment, and he looks set to further enhance his unique rap legacy:
AllHipHop.com: I’m sorry to remind you about this, but you turn 40 this year. Did you ever think at this stage in your life you’d be still making new albums?
Twista: Early on in my career, I didn’t think so, because you used to hear a lot of talk about rappers retiring. Like, that seemed to be a norm that was about to place, but later through the years, you started to hear rappers talking about never retiring, or doing it forever. Especially looking at artists like Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem; artists like that, my age and older. Jay-Z and Nas, they’re older, but Eminem is close to my age, and he’s still considered one of the top rappers in the game, so I definitely think I can play it out just as long as an R&B artist can play their career out.
AllHipHop.com: About the new album, what can we expect? Where does it fit in with what you’ve done in the past?
Twista: I think it fits in perfectly. I look at it as a continuum, or a protocol. Everybody looks forward to hearing what the Twista's next album will sound like, in the hopes that it sounds like the original material they’ve heard. And I feel like you can always do different projects and venture out, but I definitely feel like when I go down my lane to give them the next Twista album, that I need to make sure that I satisfy the fans, so they can be like ‘yeah!’ It’s going to be the hard music mixed with the melodic music for the radio.
AllHipHop.com: There’s been a lot of rumors you're going to sign for G.O.O.D. Music. Could you just clarify that situation?
Twista: Yeah, my words got a little misconstrued when I did an interview, and I told the person it was possible because my main producer [The Legendary Traxter] works a lot with Kanye. I really just left it open on my end as a possibility, but as far as us having any talks on anything actually happening concrete, nothing has happened like that as of yet. But as far as that being a possible place for me to end up, as far as me feeling right, then I would say, yes. But as far as anything transpiring, nothing has happened like that yet.
AllHipHop.com: Is Kanye working on the new album at all?
Twista: I’m definitely looking forward to having him working on the project with me. We haven’t had anything set in stone, but I don’t want to finish the project and not have him have some hand in it in some way, whether it's production or someone from his team, or something, to something with me.
AllHipHop.com: I think what excites people is that you’ve always managed to coax a different side out of him. Songs like "Slow Jamz", "Overnight Celebrity", and "Impossible", they’re pretty unique in his cannon of work. Tell me about the synergy you guys have in the studio. What do you think brings that out? And, at the same time, what does he bring out in you?
Twista: Great question. I definitely think when me and him go in the studio, we have an energy, and I think, what it is that he brings out of me is, like, once he goes into it and has an idea for a song, it’s just different. It’s Kanye, so it’s like ‘wow,’ and I gotta do what I have to do to compliment it or mess with it. So I think I go into a mode when I think it’s time to work with Kanye, and I think when he has a vision of me on a song, he’ll listen and he’ll be like, ‘man, I hear Twista on this.’ And usually it’s a perfect fit when he hears a person on a song.
But I also think that I help bring an element to him to with songs like "Overnight Celebrity" where I wanted to rap over that particular beat, as far as the original song, and he was able to go grab the song and turn it into his vision from that, too. So I definitely think we work really good together, and I would love for a situation to happen where me and him could get the opportunity to work more.
AllHipHop.com: Looking back over your career, you’ve done a lot for meshing Hip-Hop and R&B over the years. Was that always the kind of music you gravitated towards when you were young?
Twista: I think that, growing up in my household, listening to a lot of '70s music and, y’know, that whole type of vibe, listening to artists like that. Hearing it play in my house, artists like The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, y’know, almost exactly like the song ["Slow Jamz"] says, we used to listen to a lot of that in my household.
So as I got older and I got into Hip-Hop, and got into samples and things like that, we would say then ‘let's split this’ – that’s what we called it – ‘let's split this’ or ‘let's split that’, y’know? There’s a lot of songs that I came up doing that people are familiar with where I was like, ‘I really wanna rap on that someday; I want a producer to take that and turn it into something for me on the rap side.’ Yeah, I do that a lot.
AllHipHop.com: Is that what fans can expect from the new album?
Twista: It’s going to be that die hard Twista style mixed in with a little bit of the new vibe. I definitely pay attention to younger artists that come out and new sounds that come out. I definitely want to make sure I’m able to artistically incorporate what I’m hearing. I like to pay attention to it and stay current. I’m always listening to the new mixtapes so that I can naturally stay on pace with the younger cats when I’m making my album. I don’t like to force it, I don’t like to sit down and think, ‘OK, let me make a song like this person.’ What I do is just keep my ear open and stay current and listen to things with what’s coming out so I can naturally.
AllHipHop.com: Going back to you being, I suppose, one of the veterans, what do you think of Hip-Hop these days? You think it’s in a good state?
Twista: I think it’s in a good state in certain ways, and in certain ways I think it’s in a bad state. Good state, as far as artists being able to get their music out there without having to do a lot of the things they had to do at first. As long as you’ve got a computer, you can get online and get your music heard. I definitely think that’s a plus. The artist has everything at their hands by just having a computer. I think that’s real hot and very important.
But some of the negatives? Man, there’s a million rappers out there, man, my God! Who can possibly listen to all this music? Who has enough downtime? What I’m saying is I feel like the market is oversaturated. Too many people are trying to do music and not get involved with the other elements of music. I think there’s other things pertaining to what we do that’s important to.
AllHipHop.com: The title of the album is going to be called The Dark Horse. Is there meaning to that?
If you listen to it, and look at some of the old cats who’ve used the title before, one of The Beatles [George Harrison] was actually called "the dark horse" before, because you didn’t know how much of his musical involvement had a hand in what Beatles material came out. The dark horse meaning, like, the least expected person to win the race, or the least expected person to win the Superbowl. I look at the dark horse as the person that you don’t always expect to see coming out on top. I consider myself a dark horse in the industry.
AllHipHop.com: And you still feel that after all your years in the industry and all your success?
Twista: Yeah, all the time. It never goes away for some people. I’m pretty sure some basketball teams will tell you, no matter what, people consider them an underdog. I feel like people know I’m lyrical, they know that I’m dope, but I feel like, they don’t feel like I let enough of it out. I think when they listen to The Dark Horse, it will remind them of what I do for Hip-Hop, and they’ll enjoy it.
Twista's The Dark Horse is set for release this year. Follow him on Twitter (@TWISTAgmg).
Dean Van Nguyen is a contributing writer for AllHipHop.com, and we're proud to have him from all the way across the pond in Ireland! Follow Dean on Twitter (@DeanVanNguyen).