Twista: Forever In The Fast Lane
The aftermath of dropping a classic album can complicate a career—just ask Twista. Thirteen years ago, the Chicago spitter dropped “Adrenaline Rush,” a 13 track opus that went hard from start to finish. Six albums later and the man born Carl Mitchell is still recapturing the sound from yesteryear with “The Perfect Storm.” TWV caught up with the man who once set a world record for being the fastest rapper to get his thoughts on his new album, gun violence in Chicago and how beef cost him an opportunity to make great music.
The Well Versed: What’s the response been like on the album?
Twista: It’s been cool. As long as I get that response from people where they feel like they got what they expected from Twista—the guy who made Adrenaline Rush, I’m happy.
TWV: Speaking of Adrenaline Rush, the new album sounds a lot like that album, was that deliberate?
T: It was. It’s me trying to be real careful with my sound knowing what people want to hear from me. Knowing my lane of music. I wanted to keep delivering something from that same sound. I think people expect that from me.
TWV: Is that why you linked up with The Legendary Traxter for the majority of the album?
T: Definitely. You work with a lot of diff people, but in the back of your mind you know where you sound the best. Like [Dr.] Dre and Snoop [Dogg], I feel like I got a clean positive sound when I work with Traxter so I make it my business to get in the studio with him.
TWV: On the last couple albums, you departed from that sound to work with some new producers like The Neptunes; is it at all frustrating when you try to go into a different direction and fans want you to take it back?
T: Usually if I’m going in a different direction, sometimes it’s by choice, a lot of times it’s an A&R involved with my project forcing a sound. But even when I try to do it myself—no matter how hard I go with that song, one of the gifts and the curse of what I do, people say “we want that original Twista.” They don’t even care if the song is dope. It used to disappoint me but now I’m into the fact that people are into my vibe that much.
TWV: There are a lot of female friendly tracks on this new album. Going all the way back to “Get It Wet,” I did you expect those type of records to be part of your signature sound?
T: I didn’t realize it. I knew I had a vibe for those types of songs. It wasn’t until “Girl Tonight” that I realized this was a lane for me. I cherish that ability and that’s why we were able to come with “Wetter” and come back with “Make A Movie.”
TWV: The intro to this album, “Darkness” with Dawreck was dope, but to some degree, it seemed like Buk was missing. Are we going to see anymore collaborations with him?
T: Definitely. That’s my homie from Chi Town. My sound is kinda married into his. That’s one of my favorite artists to work with. I wanted to switch it up. I knew that the voice was different, but we’re all in the same crew. I used Young Buk on the intro a few times, so I wanted to switch it up from Psychodrama to Triple Darkness; the Chicago fans understand exactly what I was doing.
TWV: Prior to “Make A Movie” coming out, it seemed like a lot of people weren’t trying to get down with Chris Brown, how’d that collaboration come about?
T: The good thing about the song was that it came out towards the end of his drama. When I heard the song, I instantly heard his voice. When I do music, I try to bring that passion and emotion to it so I just go with it regardless. That’s the person I heard on the record.
TWV: Was there any apprehension or worry that there might have been some backlash towards you?
T: The ladies love Chris Brown. It was just a mistake and everybody deserves second chances. A lot of times the media breathes life into something longer than it should’ve been alive. Everybody makes mistakes, he paid his dues and I’m glad to be a part of something that helps him keep moving.
TWV: In the 90s, you beefed with Bone Thugs N Harmony for a minute. When you collaborated with them on “Ain’t No Hoes,” you rapped that y’all “steady trippin and bitchin over styles when we should’ve been getting gwop.” Even though a lot of good music came out of the beef, do you feel like you all missed an opportunity to make some great music together?
T: Hell yeah. If we would’ve had our mind state right, we definitely would’ve did things different and we’d all be on top of the game on a different level. Being young and being from the Midwest—we don’t have things as good as people on the east or west. We were fighting for everything. Also, we have to separate to go get it. If you’re in New York, you have all these labels and networks so rappers come together to make it. If you’re successful, you’re walking past other artists in the MTV and BET hallways.
But we are at a level now—me, Bone; we understand what we have to do for Midwest hip hop as far as unification.
TWV: I heard before that you were talking about doing an entire album with Bone, is that still on the table?
T: I’m definitely thinking 2011 we’ll start on that project.
TWV: Talk to me a little about the documentary you’re working on.
T: The documentary is called “Mr. Immortal: The Life and Times of Twista.” I used it as a platform to talk about the violence in the Midwest. It’s about Twista coming up in the city of Chicago and how hard it is to make it and also the state of the town. It’ll be out in December or January.
TWV: Chicago has had an especially violent year, what made you want to touch on that in the documentary?
T: Every year it escalates—especially when it gets hot. The past couple of years, it went to a level where everybody knows. I’m from the west side, so some of these people getting killed, I know them. It’s crazy. When it catches the attention of the government and they want to bring the national guard in, you know it caught my attention. I’m trying to do my part to tell the shorties to chill and just relax a little bit.
TWV: With the violence reaching the level that it has, does that give you pause in terms of how hard you want to go on the records with the violence in the music?
T: Sometimes. Sometimes I want to express myself and I just go ahead and do it, other times I think about negative content in music right down to the science of how the brain works with rhythm and positive and negative sounds. I’m so deep into it on the study side I think, “do I really want to say this?” I think with the Internet, people understand a little more about this business and understand we’re entertainers so we can get away with it a little more because people know. But that’s also why I talk about the other side of things to have that balance.
TWV: Will we be getting any mix tapes in 2011 or will you be concentrating on promoting “The Perfect Storm.”
T: Next year, I’ll be helping the people in my camp move forward. Also the Bone Thugs N Harmony project, I’ve been hearing about some super group ideas. In 2011, I’ll be working with my artists, promoting “The Perfect Storm,” and working on something big, something crazy on the group side.