Twista – Interview [2004]

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Twista is a rarity, the kind of artists who can come and go throughout different musical eras; especially in hip-hop. Instead of writing our own history we talked to Twista.

What’s happening?

Just chillin.

Where you at?

In Chicago, in the studio working on a jam.

I saw you had some shows coming up; you have to get into the vibe to do a show?

It’s natural to me know. I like chill before I go onstage and just run on there and go wild.

What was it like have the record hit number one?

Unbelievable. I had to let it soak in and it still hasn’t full soaked in. It hit me a bit when I looked at the book; I’m just excited and walking on clouds.

When you are working on the record do you have expectations like that?

I had expectations; I wanted to come with a good album because people see Adrenaline Rush as a classic so I felt I had to come with another classic. I was real nervous about it but when were pushing the album back trying to find a single I was able to come up with a few new songs and I love the record now.

Was part of the idea for the new record that pushed it even further because you are known as a guy that raps fast but did you want them to know you as writing hot rhymes too?

Yeah. I slow it down on “One Last Time” and I want them to get into me. I want them to appreciate me as a lyricist so I opened it up.

I remember with your first record how fast it was and how did you learn to rhyme like that and stay on beat?

That is how you show your true talent. At first you have to rhyme fast but when you are a true lyricist you can rhyme through the beat. I consider my rhymes another instrument in the track.

It reminds me of jazz in that way.

That is the idea on the new album, on the jazz tip.

When you get the rhymes going, you make it sound easy, do you think fans take it for granted?

I mean that is crazy too. I think if I put the lyrics with it they’ll appreciate them more because they’ll see I’m saying a few things. I’ve been thinking about having a contest where fans try to figure out the lyrics.

I remember in the late ‘80s there were a few rappers who rhymed fast…

Jay-Z and Jaz, Poor Righteous Teacher and Fu-Schnickens.

Poor Righteous Teachers used to through a lot of deep rhymes, but then you had Das Efx who used to just make words up.

I loved Das Efx, but yeah they made stuff up.

You probably have five times the lyrics on one record than other hip-hop artists. Are they hard to write or just come natural?

I sit down and write it out. I’m quick witted. Sometimes I feel the rhymes out but I sit down to make sure I love it. I fill up the paper and it looks like a script.

Were you afraid that fans would forget you since it took five years to put this out?

I was real nervous about that. I was terrified they wouldn’t remember me.

You had three records in three hip-hop eras. What are your thoughts on those different times?

I’m like a vampire. I live in different times. I’m like a rap vampire. First was early hip-hop with Chuck D. and the X Clan. I used to wear the beads and that whole phase.

Then N.W.A. came up.

Yeah, gangster rap. And I can actually remember being in L.A. and seeing Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ren and D.O.C. walk in at the same time. I got to meet Tupac before Juice and blowing up. I mean it started with just battle rhymes like ‘I’m better than you’ and escalated into I’ll come and get you and then it become I’ll come and get you for real. It was bad. I think its time for a turn because you see artists getting killed. It’s crazy.

If you sit down and think about what was hitting in the ’91. It was a great time in hip-hop.

Yeah. Das Efx, Public Enemy, it was real good in ’91.

When you bring artists in to work with you do you have the song and lyrics ready for them?

With the features I had I knew what I wanted because when I would go in the studio and work on someone else’s feature they’d have stuff done for me and it got me missing the actual creating music. So I wanted to see what it would sound like to have them featured on my song.

What was it like when artists were asking you to work with them?

Aw man I couldn’t believe it. It was great they respected me enough to pick up a phone and call to have me on their record. But then you gain their respect so that they will come and jump on your thing. It’s a higher respect. It’s like ‘hey, I can get Too Short on my joint.’

Were they fast rhymers your influence or was that your style before you heard them?

It was my style. It really didn’t influence me when I heard them but made me want to be faster. When I first heard Chip Fu from the Fu-Schnickens it was like ‘wow.’

Who is the artist when you first heard that you knew hip-hop was it?

Rakim. You can’t get any better. You had Daddy Kane and Kool G it just didn’t get better. But you know when LL with the Bad record, man. The Radio album was cold too, but he made a statement with that Bad.

That was a great era for hip-hop.

And the Fat Boys. The Fat Boys are the ones who made me want to write rhymes and beat box.

Except that movie that they made.

I’m not into that one, but Krush Groove was dope.

What sports are you into?

More football. I never really was into sports a whole. I’m somewhat athletic, but I’d play football.

Is your team the Bears?

I have to represent the hometown. You know what is funny? When you play guys on Madden everyone has their favorite team, but I like to switch it up and try every team. I like the 3-4 defense, but if my team is hot with the 4-3 defense and they can contain your offense. I go with who I think can beat their team. I like Bret Favre though.

I’m originally from Buffalo so the Bills are my team and get my ass handed to me, but I usually cheat and play with Kansas City since they were so good.

I love Priest Holmes. He runs all over everybody. They make some holes for him. Man. I hate to say it but you have to respect the Patriots.

I hate the Patriots; always have, because they are in the Bills division.

Brady’s good because he can outwit them. You have to respect him.

If you were playing football what position would you be?

The dream is always to go out and catch the ball, but I’m a big guy so I’d be a tight end or standing on the offensive line. But I wouldn’t mind trying to come in and kill the quarterback.

It’s always more fun to lay the hit than to take the hit.

Man you know that’s right.

+ Charlie Craine

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