Since springing onto the scene in 1991, Carl Terrell Mitchell, known by most as Twista, has continued to stand up to the test of time. Just like his flow, time has progressed quickly yet he continues to deliver whereas other ‘90’s artists have been lost. With his latest project, Category F5, hitting stores on July 14, HipHopWired took some time to catch up with the Chicago native and reflect from his beginnings to what he plans to bring for fans in ’09. From leaving Atlantic Records to past collaborations and even rumors with star Pinky, Twista airs it out and leaves any lingering questions answered. As Hip-Hop spearheads into a new generation of artists and a new sound, Twista maintains that he will continue to produce the music that has ranked him as one of the elite lyricists in the game.
HipHopWired: Now a Category F5 is the strongest tornado known. With a title such as this, can we expect this to be your strongest album to date?
TWISTA: I would say definitely that they can expect it to be where Twista’s evolution to be in ’09. As far as the strongest album, it’s hard to say because people have different vibes and sounds. Some people might say that they like Kamikaze the best, while others might like Adrenaline Rush the best. I definitely feel like Category F5 will be in the argument as far as my top recording. I would say that this is the perfect level of evolution where a Twista fan would expect me to be.
HipHopWired: As Kamikaze is your best selling album to date, can we expect you to try and rekindle some of the magic that worked for you then in terms of collaborations or producers?
TWISTA: Well, just some of it. The good thing about Category F5 is that I have the producer that did songs on the Kamikaze record, do songs on this record. I also have the producers that did songs on Adrenaline Rush do a part of the production. The rest of the production I got from the hot producers out that are making music for the artists that are out here today. You will feel that vibe from the first Twista, that middle Twista during Kamikaze, and you will feel the vibe of the way I was putting it down for today. I think it’s a well-rounded album when it comes to delivering that original Twista sound and also giving them music that they can bump that fits in the scheme of today.
It was more of a broad prospective of us knowing that we wanted to kind of recapture that sound that we had when we first came out. It was more about going into the original sounds and into that original mind state. The “Wetter” joint happened to be the one that emulated the type of vibe that came from “Get It Wet.” That’s why we didn’t mind people giving it the title of “Get It Wet pt. 2” but it was really just a revisit of those sounds and elements to try and give you that original Twista feel. As far as the subject matter and the ladies, we went in and did our thing for the ladies.
HipHopWired: What do you think happened with your last release, Adrenaline Rush 2007, in terms of sales? Can you clear up how you ended up leaving Atlantic Records and the reasons behind the departure?
TWISTA: If you notice, my Adrenaline Rush 2007 record was one of the first records that dropped in the midst of record labels trying to understand what was going on in the streets. My record dropped when my label was transforming from a record label into a multi-media company. So, here you have a bunch of people getting fired and a bunch of people getting hired. I’m pretty sure any record label or any business, when you fire and hire people, you’re going to have some consequences and repercussions. I hated that my album kind of fell into that flock. It just came out at a bad time.
The other thing was that the people that I had relationships with at the label were gone, so I kind of knew that I wanted to move on and that Atlantic had wanted to move on into another direction as a company. It was beneficial to both of us because they couldn’t invest the kind of money they invested in me the first time due to the company and industry changing. For me, I couldn’t take one of these new deals, according to what they were about to do, because I was an established artist that was used to living a certain way. So artists like me and Fat Joe, if you’re an established artist it’s better, according to the way the industry is now, to take the independent route.
I promoted the record for as long as they wanted me to promote it until they said they would give the release because I had actually asked for the release. They told me to promote the record, I did, they gave me my release and we were happy. Craig [Craig Kallman, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Records] is still cool. I was with Atlantic for ten years and there were a lot of instances where Craig believed in me and there were a lot of times when we argued. I look at him as a person that I know in the industry, like one of my associates. I don’t hold any hard feelings on any level.
HipHopWired: What’s going on right now with your label Get Money Gang Entertainment? What’s your opinion on going independent?
TWISTA: The whole GMG thing, more so then just creating an independent record label, I am aware of the fact that there aren’t a lot of record labels in the Mid-West so in any way that GMG can help an artist, if not directly signed to GMG, it’s us being a mediator to take someone that is talented from over here and introduce them to someone over there. As I said, the Mid-West doesn’t have labels, so GMG wants to do that as well as sign acts. As far as the EMI/Capital thing, that was basically just watching the careers of people that were doing what I was doing. I knew that Fat Joe and Trina had gotten off of Atlantic Records and chose to go the independent route and found EMI. When I saw the way that the project went going through EMI, I paid attention to it. Fat Joe was on Atlantic, he has a fan base and EMI was able to do a decent job with his record as well as Trina and Ice Cube. When I saw that this independent situation was turning out to be pretty good for artists that already had an established fan base, I looked at it as a route that I should probably take. Once I sat down with everybody and got into it, I felt a good vibe and I rolled with it.
HHW: As you have been in the game since ’91, what do you think has been the biggest change in Hip-Hop?
TWISTA: One of the biggest changes is just the flood of the artists. When I first came into the game, you had to have some form of talent to get into the game. You had to be a dope rapper or a dope producer. It started to go to where if you knew the right person, you could get in the game or if your rhyme was decent and had the right look, you could get into the game. Now I see a lot of people in the game, no disrespect, who I feel don’t deserve it from the standards of when I came into the game, but, at the same time, I’m glad to see Black people have something that they can feed their families off of.
HipHopWired: What’s going on with the Speedknot Mobstaz? Why did fans have to wait ten years between both projects?
TWISTA: Putting out the Speedknot Mobstaz record, I didn’t have as many people in play as I wanted and we pushed it to the best of our ability with what we could do at the time and it just didn’t work out. The reason you find me so optimistic or positive all the time is because I am a firm believer that as long as you make good music and you’re talented, you can always make eyes open for you again. Even though the Mobstaz record didn’t work, I always knew that I am always going to have another chance as long as I can walk into somebody’s studio. That project didn’t go right so we had to push that under, and right now the group is going through an identity crisis of wanting to do their own thing. There is no more Speedknot Mobstaz. So right now, I’m a little more into what Liffy Stokes is about to put out right now. Me and Liffy Stokes have been working on his project; it’s halfway done and we’re about to release that pretty soon.
HipHopWired: Have you kept in contact with Do Or Die? Have you spoken to B-Lo since his conviction?
TWISTA: I got a cold a*s song on my album with B-Lo, AK and Johnny P. I haven’t spoken personally to B-Lo, but we still do have good communication because I have been working with Traxster a lot, who produced Adrenaline Rush, and he has a lot of material on Do or Die. Just us all still being friends and still working together, we were able to make a monster jam happen for my album. I’m real happy about that because it shows people that Twista is still coming with that original sound and holding true to what made him what he is. I am very proud of my Do or Die jam on the album and it’s real dope.
HipHopWired: Now there have been some rumors circulating about you getting star Pinky pregnant. Would you like to take this time to clear the air about that?
TWISTA: I don’t know where that came from. It was kind of on time to hear my name get talked about in the limelight. The only negative aspect about it is that the people that are close to me, when they think of , they don’t want to hear that their boy Twista got a star pregnant. As far as me having respect for Pinky, I have a lot of respect for her and what she does. I don’t knock anybody for what they do as long as it’s legal. As far as where the rumor came from, I don’t know. Is it true…no. Have I ever had sex with her…no. Is she fine and got a fatty…yes. Will I ever have a relationship with her…only with me on the couch and her on the DVD (laughs). I don’t knock her though because it was funny as hell. It started to get crazy though when the momz and everybody started calling, I was like, oh Shyte.
HipHopWired: Along with Common, you have been able to put Chicago on the map as it pertains to the music that the city pumps out. Do you feel that you have been able to fully capitalize as a pioneer for Chicago Hip-Hop?
I definitely feel as though I was able to capitalize, but not to the fullest. I feel like if I moved around more I would be able to capitalize more, instead of living in Chicago the way that I do, because we have a lot of resources here. I definitely don’t feel that I have capitalized to the fullest, but I did capitalize and put myself in a comfortable position to be able to do music the way that I want to do it, take care of my people and live the way that I want to live. As far as looking at what Kanye, Lupe and Common are doing, I’m happy with the mix that we have in the game. It’s usually not a flaw when the guys from the Mid-West hit and it’s usually big. When I think Mid-West, I think Eminem, Nelly, Kanye West, and all of them are big. I’m proud of the mix that we put in the game. I feel like we need to come harder and that we need to come with more acts, but for what we did, you can definitely hold your head up high.
HipHopWired: Now you have been labeled as an MC’s MC. Where would you rank yourself in the game and what do you believe makes an artist a top lyricist or a great MC?
TWISTA: I wouldn’t put myself as a number, but I would rank myself as one of the top because a lot of the time you have two types of MCs. Some of them can come up with metaphors to death, but can’t make a style or ride a beat to save their life. Some artists can ride the fu*k out of a beat and give you different styles and melodies, but the subject matter is garbage. I feel like I am able to do both. Certain artists like Jay-Z, Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris can do both. Some artists will just ride their rhythm or just give you those metaphors and can’t really mesh both worlds. What makes a top lyricist or MC to me is one that can come with rhythm and patterns as well as metaphors as well as being an entertainer with the lyrics and having some type of battle skills. Those are the things that make a top lyricist.
HipHopWired: What mark do you believe that Twista has left for Hip-Hop?
TWISTA: Putting it down for the Mid-West and the mark of longevity. When people ask, I want my legacy to be longevity and I want to be the one who when you look up and say that a rapper cant last in the game as long as an R&B artist or any other genre of music, I want to be the first example. I want people to look up and say look at Twista. Not just from music though because for longevity in music you have to have the talent to do music to the fullest and you have to be a well-rounded person to the best of your ability. No man can make it in any business if he makes bad decisions in life. I feel like just having a cool head on my shoulders and coming with the music the way that I do is the reason that I can drop a record in ’91 and still have Akon and Kanye on my record in ’09.