For 18 years Twista has been bringing his kinetic flows to the ears of millions of listeners, putting Chicago on the map in the music industry. Always relevant, Twista remains in the game despite a constantly shifting music industry and a new wave of rap artists. Deeming himself the Jason Voorhees of rap, Twista is resilient in the industry as he continues to slay tracks. Chi-town has a major influence on Twista - everything from K-town to downtown, his friends and family, as well as his fellow Chicago artists all play a part in establishing his intense yet mellow vibe.
Twista’s quest to become Chicago’s dominant MC began in the 80’s. He recalls, “Around the Krush Groove days, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a rapper to the fullest. Doing talent shows or trying to be part of things to where I could possibly get my foot in the door to become a rapper. Once I got that visual aspect that’s when I went in harder.” Twista would then compete in and win numerous talent shows around Chicago. Honing his skills through battle rapping, Twista proved to be a force to be reckoned with as he constantly won. He remembers, “I usually won the battles. The thing that got my foot in the door was having a different rap style.”
Twista’s journey to fame began in 1991, a DJ from a local radio station saw him perform at a talent show held at the Golden Dome on Chicago’s west side. This DJ, who had a credible reputation for shopping Chicago artists and getting Chicago recognized by the music industry, became Twista’s manager. Twista soon began to conquer the talent show circuit, and eventually his manager would give a demo tape to a Chicago promoter from Loud Records. The promoter was so impressed with what he heard that he took the demo to artist reps in Los Angeles. Amazed by the Twista’s fresh and dynamic style, the artist reps contacted Twista immediately and asked him to demonstrate his lyrical ability. The reps were won over and flew Twista and the manager to LA. It was only a matter of time before Twista became the first artist signed to LOUD Records.
Twista explains his talent, “I was just trying to come up with something different besides the metaphors, at first it was different rhythms and rap styles, then I flipped the words. Once I heard somebody else doing my rap style, then it was over, I started going crazy with it; doing whole songs and tearing it up.” He further elaborates, “People just think it’s about how fast I can spit; it’s about how clear I can spit and how beautiful the rhythm is.”
Over the years, Twista refined his lyricism to become more structured and more funky. He incorporated melodic syncopations that added depth and complexity to his already unique style. It was on the Do or Die single “Po Pimp”(1996) that Twista introduced this style to the masses.
Twista is an artist who was respected from the start. His underground album Resurrection (1994) received three and a half mics in the Source magazine. He would then go on to release Adrenaline Rush (1997) on Atlantic Records. With the success of first singles “Get It Wet” and “Emotions”; the album would go on to be certified gold. Following that was the release Mobstabilty (1998). The next album for Twista would be the double platinum Kamikaze (2004), which topped the charts at number one. It featured the hit singles “Slow Jamz” with Kanye West and “Overnight Celebrity”. The Day After (2005) released a year later peaked at number two and hit platinum status, producing the hits “So Lonely” featuring Mariah Carey, and “Girl Tonite” featuring Trey Songz. Adrenaline Rush 2007 (2007) was the last album he released for Atlantic. Twista has collaborated with some high profile artists in the business such as: Jay Z on “Is That Your Bitch”, P. Diddy on “Is This the End”, Ludacris on “Cut Up”, Three 6 Mafia on “Smoked Out”, and a new track with Sting.
Under his new record label GMG (Get Money Gang), a subsidiary of EMI/Capitol Records, Twista is now completely in control of his music while introducing some fresh faces in the process. New artists that Twista wants to put in the spotlight through GMG include: B-Hype, Skoota Choose, Liffy Stokes, Anya, and Mello Tha’ Guddaman. With GMG, Twista works to make his acts brand name, so they can survive in the ever-changing music industry. “GMG is the bridge between the music industry and the mid-west.” Twista explains.
Currently, Twista is finishing up his new album Category F5. The album is a statement of his newfound creative liberation. Twista explains that the title of the album is a natural evolution of the titles of his previous works - “Category F5 is the highest level of a twister. Once I came up with the title, I felt it was appropriate because coming from the standpoint of Adrenaline Rush, I was trying to stay within that whole zone, and Category F5 sounded like some cold shit.” The power of an F5 “can throw cars through the air like bullets, while breaking houses and foundations”, and Twista wants to convey that destructive force lyrically. The fierceness on display in Adrenaline Rush reaches a profound intensity on Category F5. As far as the music is concerned, Twista hopes that his music provides an escape for listeners. “My music is like a good movie, it’s meant to take listeners away from their problems. It’s meant to make people say Wow, that’s a dope ass rap,” says Twista. Through his verbal prowess, Twista wants his fans to hear him dismember his haters.
Twista does to rap what Coltrane did to saxophone solos. In a rhythmic rapid-fire succession, lyrics flow from one verse onto the next in a dazzling fashion. He has carved out a legacy for himself as a premiere Chicago artist. Though he is an artist with many accomplishments under his belt, he feels that his recognition for being an innovative pioneer will come in due time - “some artists put out the big records, some put out the best records, but Twista’s legacy will be that of longevity; being a timeless artist.”