I’m feeling good. I’m feeling excited about the year. I’m starting to see everything pan out. I’m seeing paperwork and schedules so I’m starting to feel back to normal.
You’ve been pretty quiet about your upcoming album. How’s it coming?
It’s pretty much finished. I have a few more songs to do, but I consider it finished because it’s 90% done. I’m real happy with everything I got and I’m glad I got to work on the album in the way that I did. I have my own studio and I was able to go in with my own producers and do it on a real comfortable vibe. I would consider this the most comfortable time I ever had doing an album.
Are you making your best music of your career right now?
I don’t say that. I feel like I’ve been through my music enough to know exactly where I’m at. I consider the music I’m making to represent me at this day and time. With the experiences I’ve had and my mindset today, this is where I’m at. Listen to it. I’m not saying, “This is my dopest music ever!” Everybody always says their new music is always better than their older music. I might feel like this album makes you feel like this, but is it lyrically doper than Adrenaline Rush? It might not be. Is it as likable to the women and all fans as Kamikaze was? It might not be. I might be on some deeper shit this time. I’m definitely trying to get new fans and I want to satisfy the original Twista fans. At the same time, I think I’ve been doing music long enough and I can say, “What’s up, y’all? This is ’07. Check out what’s coming out of me.”
How did your music change recording it in your own studio?
When you make enough noise, the producers will appreciate you enough to come out to work with you. That’s always a plus because they’re in your house and you feel more comfortable. Me working at home is like a new quarterback coming into the league with the same playbook he used in college. It’s like, Man, I’m in my comfort zone. I’m very comfortable with the engineer I work with and I feel I make my best music when I’m in my comfort zone. I keep it versatile and I can go anywhere and do what I do, but it was cool for a change where I can be established enough and bring certain elements to me this time. That made me happy.
Are you happy at Atlantic and the way they promote your music?
At times, no. But at the same time, I have a long relationship with Atlantic and I also have a long relationship with the industry. Regardless of what label you’re at, it’s all about you and your team nailing down the best deal you can get. At the end of the day, I’ve been through so many phases at Atlantic. Have I ever been unhappy at Atlantic? Yeah, I have.
Did it raise an eyebrow when I saw what happened to Lil’ Kim and Fat Joe? Yeah, it definitely raised an eyebrow. But I just look at it as a man and as an artist, you just have to prepare yourself and have a backup plan in case something happens in your situation and you have to have a plan for what you have going with that label. I’ve always been able to do my thing at Atlantic. I think I fell into a slump with The Day After project because of things that were going on at a higher level as far as the company going through changes. I couldn’t let that slow me down. Now that the new company is switched over and everybody is sitting in their seats for a minute, hopefully with this album we can kick it off the right way. I’m not tripping like that because I’ve been in the game for a long time. I’ll know what’s wrong and we can try to fix what’s wrong. I’m an artist and at the end of the day, you can torch my album and beat it up, but I can always go in the studio and make something new.
Is the album still titled Adrenaline Rush: 2010?
Adrenaline Rush: 2010 was a title I wanted to do to portray the music. Right now the tentative title may be Seven. Adrenaline Rush: 2010 was more of a mixtape idea. That’s where I was with it, thinking on it on the mixtape level. We changed shit up and my mind started thinking on different levels. I was like, Man, okay, when I think about this album, this is about to be my seventh release if you count my underground album Resurrection. You’d have to be a true Twista fan to count that. Seven has always been my favorite number and it’s a divine number. It felt good to me. It had enough mysticism about it to where I said, “I might name my album Seven.”
You’re sounding very aggressive on your latest song, “Bussin’ No Discussin’.” What did you want to accomplish with that song?
For people to see that I’m still Twista and I still got lyrics. I’m still the same Twista they saw the first time I came out. I have fast parts that repeat where I let people know I still got it. Don’t ever think because I do a song for this particular reason or with this type of sound and vibe that you can come at me from a certain level. I’m still Twista the lyrical one who loved to battle and put it down. I just had to show them that it’s still me. Sometimes artists think, “Where am I trying to go with this music?” I don’t think like that. Whenever I hear the beat, whatever the creation sounds like it can be, that’s where I go with it. when I was younger, I would force it. Now I’m at the level where I just do music. If I like a certain beat, I’ll let it be as it is. I’m not like, “I want it to be this” or “I want people to respect me on this level.” You have to let it be what it’s going to be. It’s got to be natural.
No one can argue that you don’t have a unique style. Do you have to do a lot of takes in the studio when you’re rapping fast?
It’s always different. It depends how I do the song. If I feel the pressure and the song is going to come out on a major soundtrack or it’s with an artist or producer I really respect, it can take me awhile. Sometimes I don’t feel no pressure because I’m so in-tune with the beat. I might not even write it. When I was doing the fast rapping, I was doing the most writing. Now I’m having fun because I’m doing songs like I did without them, but without writing them. It’s just fun the way I’m putting the music together now. It’s like a new vibe to the music. Songs now can take me anywhere from fifteen to twenty minutes to two hours to a whole day. I might be piecing together parts all day trying to make a masterpiece and other times I might just pull it out of my ass real quick. It just depends.
Why don’t you write as much anymore?
If I feel like I really need to perfect the song, I’ll write. When I was into the perfection of the song, that’s when I did my most writing. Once my album went platinum and things started to happen for me, I realized people really did love the Twista sound. It wasn’t about getting on anymore. Once I got on, it wasn’t about being perfect anymore. It was about letting them see me and allowing me to do rhymes without writing. I was like, All this time I’ve been spending writing! There is no writing process for me anymore. It’s really a thinking process. It’s not from the mind to the paper to the mic anymore. It’s from the mind to the mic now. That’s how I’ve been doing music for the past couple of years.
Do you ever worry about fans not catching everything you say?
They never really understand. Right off the bat, people are wondering what I said. A true rapper or hip-hop head can tell what I’m saying because they’re into the lyrics. The best part about the way I rap is that even when you can’t understand what I’m saying, you can pick a pattern out of my words like “la la la laaa laa la la.” Then you realize it’s like an extra instrument in the track and you don’t have to understand what I’m saying. I’m popping the words in the pattern of the beat so much that it sounds like another instrument.
Why did you switch your style so much on “The Come Up”?
I go off my vibes. I’m past my stage of trying to force a certain sound on people because I want to go platinum or do this. I’m trying to be an artist and I’m not trying to force you to like me. I’m doing what I do and I’m not forcing you to like it. That song, I wanted to be Screwy with it. My voice didn’t fit with that beat. I had to be a beast with that shit. I had to deepen my voice up on that one. It was just a vibe I was trying. I had already done the song before I heard the songs with the slow samples in it like “Hustlin’.” I had already put this song together and I wanted to rap it in a beasty voice. It just turned out like that. It’s definitely one of my favorite songs.
At this stage in your career, how important is it to give people what they want and expect from Twista versus trying new styles and vibes?
I think it’s bad to make a decision and choose one. I think if you have talent in carefully crafting an album, you’ll be able to do both. You’ll be able to have long-time fans saying they like six, seven or eight songs and that’s an album to them. Then other fans might say, “I don’t know Twista and he raps fast, but these songs are my jams!” You just have to know how to manipulate the album and do the best of both worlds. You can’t do just one.
Do you get the respect you deserve for being an MC?
Hell no! I feel like Michael Finley – underrated.
Why do you feel underrated?
One of the reasons is I don’t think I cause enough rah-rah. That’s in my personality. I’m not the type of artist to really get out there enough to command it. Other rappers live where there’s more media. I happen to be an artist who stays at home. I can’t just get up and decide I want to try to do BET today. I can’t make those decisions because I choose to live in Chicago. I think it takes more because I’m not staying in everybody’s face all the time. I think I have to get out there and let them know that they have to listen to my shit. I have to ask them if they paid attention to my shit! I care about getting out there and making sure the people see and don’t let what I said slip past them. That’s what I’m on this year. I have to let them see that I’ve been doing my thing for awhile. It’s killing me because most of the artists are out know the one secret thing and I know it too and it’s funny: you can bite off of Twista and slide under the radar. Some people do it and don’t get caught and some people slide under the radar. Sometimes it sounds too much like Twista after a couple of bars. I can listen to artists who used my style to come up with different things.
You were in a bad car accident this past January. Do you have any lingering injuries from the accident?
It was pretty bad. We did lose a homie who was often my bodyguard at the same time. I really feel blessed to be here. It made me look at my life and pay more attention to what I’m doing to the people I love. It was a bad thing, but the way that car was looking, instead of putting a big negative on it, I looked at how mangled the vehicle was and I looked at what a blessing it was to be here and that I should get on my path better and try to do things the right way. It definitely keeps you on point. Being in an accident like that makes you check on certain things, like making sure the driver is alert. You drive every day for years and years, and then it can happen. You have to be careful.
There were rumors that the car accident was faked. How did you feel about that?
I don’t even pay attention no more. When I was younger, a lot of rumors used to traumatize me, like, Why would they say that? As I became an artist, I got comfortable and now I just brush it right off my shoulder. People talk and they hear stuff through the grapevine and it gets twisted up. I don’t even let it bother me because I know people gossip. I don’t think about that stuff. My whole thing with Chicago hip-hop is the thing that makes me mad is how come you can look at New York and you got KRS-One, who dissed Queens before, on stage with Nas? Nas has enough respect for hip-hop to bring KRS-One out at his shows.
What kills me out here is that we’ve messed up the game so bad that artists now will try to tear down the one person that put their city on or had a lot of things to do with why the A&R’s come here and talk to them. That’s because of things I did. The game has gotten so twisted that they think it’s better to try to tear me down and get publicity off of pulling me down instead of paying respects and paying homage. I’ve been putting it down. I’m Twista. Never will I take a big step backwards like that and get into it with some shorty from the hood. There’s no reason to.
Bump J came at you about a year ago. Is everything cool between you two?
There’s nothing to resolve. I don’t know that guy. I’m from this side of town and he’s from another side. Any problem you’ve ever heard of or any drama you’ve ever heard was manufactured rap shit. I’ve seen him at restaurants a couple of times after everything that was said and we say “what’s up?” to each other. There is no beef and there are no problems. He didn’t do anything to my people and we’re straight. There is no beef. I try to keep my name unassociated with the stuff. I just try to stay clean. I just want to chill.
You’re one of the only artists from Chicago to blow up and stay in Chicago. How do you feel about that?
I feel proud of it, but it wasn’t like I did it and said, “I have to stay in Chicago!” It wasn’t a drawn-out thing. All my people are here. I’m a Chicago boy. A lot of people can move easier, but I don’t want to leave my people like that. I have to stay at the crib. I’m just one of those people.
Who do you like coming out of Chicago today?
The new guys I’m messing with are Scooter, who’s from the Westside out of K-Town and my homie Cap.One. He’s putting it down. I like the way he’s doing his music. I’m really just a fan of the music. It’s hard for me to pick out guys. If you’re from Chicago and you have decent music, I’m rooting for you. Some part of it is me feeling you and rooting for you as an artist because you’re from my city and other times it’s me rooting for you as a black man coming up in a day and age where it’s hard for us and we’re dying and going to jail and you found a way and you’re making some noise and you possibly don’t have to go through that shit.
Do you have a relationship with Dame Dash and Jay-Z today?
Yeah. We don’t talk a lot, but we definitely have a relationship. I can go build with any one of them about anything at any given time. Those are my peoples.
Are you still in touch with any members from Do or Die?
I still talk to AK every once in awhile. Those are my guys. They got me on my first record. It’s always going to be love with those guys. I hear stuff that Belo but that’s just Belo being Belo. I got love for him. I wish him well. His album is out. Go cop that.
What’s going on with the Speedknot Mobstaz?
It’s on and popping. It took awhile because we had to get the right situation. We got something that’s going to be popping off at the top of the year. Definitely look out for the Mobstability album. We have a few videos shot and we’re going to make it a big thing. I’m going to be dabbling in the business a little more as far as helping to release my artists. We also have our Get Money Gang. You’re going to see a lot of GMG t-shirts and people running around talking about the Get Money Gang. We have a gang of things going on. We have the Showtime Entertainment thing going on which is the label the Mobstaz are going to be going through. I’m also going to be hollering at a few labels about Scooter.
Because of all the business drama you’ve been through in the past, are you taking more precautions now when shopping your artists?
Yeah, definitely. Definitely. For most of my career, I’ve mostly dealt with Atlantic. I don’t have a problem with Atlantic, but I want to do some things with other companies. I want to have other people I can talk to and go over other ideas with other people about how to push an artist. I have love for Atlantic and I have love for the other labels that I’m going to release my hot-ass niggas to.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming MC’s?
Hmm…MC’s or rappers?
Let’s go with MC’s.
Just know that every time you do a rap or a verse or whatever, don’t get so caught up in yourself that you think everything you’re saying is dope as hell. Listen to the music. Try to make sure that every bar you write is doper than every bar that you ever heard in any song. I can honestly say the only reason I’m still around today through all my fucked up business and all the stuff I’ve ever messed up is my lyrical ability. I always drop a hot one. Stay hot. Make sure every bar you write is doper than every bar you ever heard.
What’s your focus going to be for the next month?
Finishing this album. I’m not recording past December 31 so the album comes out in March or April. I also have a calendar coming out with a lot of girls.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Stop listening to so much bullshit that you hear in the street. I’m only one man and there’s only so much I can do. Nine times out of ten, I’m just chilling and taking care of my family. I’m not a young cat. I am putting Chicago on. It might not be you, but don’t feel like I’m not Chicago. Respect it, try to get it. The Midwest is learning the game and people are knowing what they’re doing a little bit now. I can tell that the hating has pretty much disintegrated itself a little bit now. Just stop listening to so much bullshit you hear. I’m doing the best I can repping for the city. And cop the new album coming out in late March.