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[courtesy Atlantic Records] Twista Interview
Author: Damon Brown

EDITOR'S NOTE: Please visit, Twista's official site.

Like a well prepared steak, some things in life need time to marinate. Take Twista, who's high-speed raps have laced tracks for Puffy, Ludacris and even your-royal-iceness Jigga. However, his silver tongue is yet to give him his shine: out of his four albums (two solo, two with his group Legit Ballaz), only one, "Adrenaline Rush," got an official gold plaque. He hasn't become a force in the industry yet, not quite to that point where his name will get as much respect as his game. People know him -- shit, he's in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the fastest rapper -- but we're still waiting for him to drop his own "Hard Knock Life: Vol. 2" or "The Low End Theory" to show us what he's fully capable of.

Perhaps the wait is over. In February Twista is releasing "Kamakazee," his first solo album in five years, on Atlantic Records. It has hot collabos, even hotter producers and, perhaps most important, a more mature Twista. This is evident on the first single, "Tattoo (Remix)," with his Legit Ballaz clique. The grinding bassline, juicy guitar licks and erotic poetry ("Is it on your chest? Is it on your back? Is it on your leg? Is it by your [meow]?") make it a perfect joint for hooptie ridin', not to mention stripping, both publicly and privately. Twista makes it clear that he's not trying to take fellow Chicago native R. Kelly's spot as the next sexy crooner though; he's just showing his range.

Damon Brown: You have a serious connection to Chicago. How has living there influenced your music style as opposed to, say, being from New York?

Twista: By being central, we feel the vibe from every coast. We may feel east coast, then we'll feel the west, and then feel the south. It's like a mixture from everyone.

DB: I found that with music, especially hip-hop, where you're from influences you a lot.

T: Yeah, it's all about where I'm from. In the hood I had all kinds of influences: what the guys talk about, riding around the hood, going to the clubs, at the parties.

DB: I'm feeling your new single, "Tattoo (Remix)." Are you really feeling women with tatts more than those without?

"I think tattoos are sexy [...] if you see a tat, it's just something that can make you interested."

T: I think tattoos are sexy. It started as a group song, then we started rolling with it, but I definitely feel tattoos on women. I mean, guys in Chicago -- and I'm not sure if it's a Chicago thing or not -- but if you see a tat, it's just something that can make you interested. A woman can pass by, dressed normal or whatever, and can have a little of skin showing, but if that skin has ink on it, it's just gets your attention. Maybe it's something about women taking the pain under a needle {*laughing*}.

DB: Yeah, "Tattoo" is a pretty sexy song {*laughing*}. Can we expect a similar vibe throughout the whole album "Kamakazee" or will it be pretty varied?

T: Nah, it's definitely a mixture -- kind of an "Adrenaline Rush" kind of vibe, but more fresh. It's the Chicago sound, changed up.

DB: How has your music matured?

"I mean, what happened to niggaz that got styles? My flow's not only one way, but going fast and slow in different ways."

T: I finesse it a little bit more now. I'm older now, so I select my topics better. If I want to get grimy, I get it grimy, or if I want to get commercial, but not too commercial, then I can do it. I'm a style person. One person may say "I'm going to come more gangsta this time," and another may say "I'm going to change my voice." Me, I got styles. I mean, what happened to niggaz that got styles? My flow's not only one way, but going fast and slow in different ways.

DB: Now about the album: I was told Lil' Kim's doing a joint for your album, and vice versa. Can you tell me about that? Did you do it yet?

T: Yeah, it's already done. It's called "Thug Love." Yeah, that's my homegirl. I met her a lot of times, but I didn't get a chance to mess with her until now. That's a dope girl.

DB: Who else do you have on there?

T: Got Ludacris, got Eightball, got Too $hort, Freeway, and on the production side I got Jazze Pha, Kanye West, and Timbaland did a beat, too.

DB: Whoa. I guess you're going all out.

T: Trying to.

DB: So what type of audience do you want to listen to your upcoming album?

"I want the gangstas to say 'That's some hard street shit,' and at the same time, that regular white guy saying 'Wow, that's tight.'"

T: I'm really trying to tap into all audiences. When you first come out, you want homeboys to feel it and you're straight with that. But now, I want guys, women, and mainstream to feel it. I want them all. I mean, I want the gangstas to say "That's some hard street shit," and, at the same time, that regular white guy saying "Wow, that's tight."

DB: Word! {*laughing*} You've worked with major artists like Puffy and Usher. Who else would you like to do a collabo with?

T: I always wanted to get with OutKast.

DB: Who were your influences early in your career?

T: Really, it was the first rappers, like the Kurtis Blows, Grandmaster Flashes and stuff, but when I saw "Krush Groove" -- it was over. Actually, when I first heard "The Show," with Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick, I knew I wanted to rap. And the Fat Boys, too. They were crazy, but that's what kicked it off.

DB: When you got started, were you in a cipher or was it more a sitting down with your notepad type of thing?

T: My little brother and a guy from down the street had our own thing. We called each other the "Cold Heart Boys." We was putting our little stuff together. I was beatboxing and doing the rhymes for the group, since they couldn't write. And saw that movie ["Krush Groove"], I was like "Shit man, let me start kicking shit on my porch."

DB: You've been in the game for a while, not like someone that just started in hip-hop, so I imagine you've got a bigger vision than the average Joe. Where do you see you and your group Legit Ballaz in five years?

"I want to really have a Legit Ballaz artist roster [...] and get each artist a major record deal."

T: I want to really have a Legit Ballaz artist roster, to be able to get out there and get each artist a major record deal. Trying to do the Cash Money thing.

DB: Now, do you plan on getting involved in producing beats or anything like that?

T: Not too much. I'm new to the making beats side, so I'm fiddling with keyboards and MP [samplers] and stuff, but I'm more focused on the actual production side. Actually, I've got a couple of fellas back home that I'm planning to do my thing with, more from a business standpoint.

Twista's new album "Kamakazee," will be released on Atlantic Records in February 2003.

Originally posted: September 24, 2002

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