Not too many people can say they’ve been in it as long as Twista. The Chicago veteran wordsmith has been doing it way before Soulja Boy was turning his swag on and is determined to make sure today’s new generation of fans don’t forget the O.G. After switching up his label situation and now releasing music through a joint venture with his own Get Money Gang Records and EMI, Twista is back and ready to release his eighth solo set, Category F5, this July. With the calm reserve of a true elder statesman in the game, XXLMag.com caught up with the rapid-fire lyrical renegade as he clears up rumors of getting dropped by Atlantic, talks hooking back up with Kanye West, why he didn’t join Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and how he’s switching up his hustle.
XXLMag.com: Let’s first clear something up. There were rumors that said you were dropped from Atlantic after Adrenaline Rush 2007…
Twista: Naw, I wasn’t dropped, I was asking for a release. A shift in the industry started happening and they started snatching up all these artists and giving them these 360 deals, which consist of a piece of your money on every level, stage shows, merchandising, everything. I’m from the old school, I didn’t have that type of deal. So to renegotiate a contract with Twista and put it in the form of a 360 deal wasn’t gonna happen. It was better for me to go independent. I already have an established fan base and it’s much better for me. With EMI, it’s a partnership.
XXL: Some people didn’t really receive that album that well. Some said it didn’t seem like classic Twista work. Why do you think that was?
Twista: As far as the way the record sounded, I’m always trying to make people happy. I had a bunch of jams that I went in on on that street shit, making Chicago and K-Town happy. Then I had a bunch of jams, you know, messing with Jamie [Foxx] over here, messing with Pharrell over here and all of these cuts with different artists trying to make the label happy. But at the same time, the way my situation was, I didn’t have final say. I had a lot of differences with the A&R that I was working with at the time. So simply put, they took all the street shit off and put all of the melodic, simple type of cuts on the album. A lot of songs didn’t go on the album. So that’s why it may have sounded watered down.
XXL: I know you hooked back up with Kanye for this new album, Category F5. Is it that same “Slow Jams” or “Overnight Celebrity” vibe or another direction?
Twista: To me, it’s another direction. I mean, you always hope that somebody can give you a record that can turn out to be a smash but shit I got Akon, R.Kelly…I got a bunch of records that I feel can be a single. So with the Kanye song, the thing I cherish about it the most is that it sounds like we just went in for hip-hop, more so that we just went in doing something trying to have it sound like a single. But once you hear it two or three times, then you’re gone.
XXL: The single “Wetter” is out and doing pretty good right now. I know that’s a song for the ladies. Does that joint help you get any groupie love?
Twista: Dog, lemme tell you something. And this is the consensus from all the homies. Off that song, all they say is girls say that it makes their panties wet. Over and over, that’s all I hear. “That song made my pussy wet.” So with that song right there, performing it on stage and having the whole crowd of women calling me daddy, it be some crazy nights. And you know, it don’t be planned, I just stick to my original format and it’s going to work.
XXL: Ok. I never heard anybody go harder at your style than you but I know you’ve collaborated with a few cats like Krayzie Bone and Tech N9ne that go hard too. You ever feel competition to “out-twist” artists like that when you get on a track with them?
Twista: Um, it used to be, but not as much now because I feel like an O.G. with it. So since I know that I’m like the grand daddy of that style, the only time I might feel threatened is when somebody outright say they can fuck me up with that style or outright say that they made it, you know, shit like that. As it constantly grows, you understand that you started a movement. So from that O.G. perspective to know that you really started a movement, it’s really more fun to sit around and pop that style with my peers. Now it might feel different if I felt threatened, but on the cocky side, I ain’t worried about nobody doing my thing better than me Joe. And that’s no beef. I plan to do a whole project with Bone and Tech N9ne is cold as hell. I hope they feel the same about themselves.
XXL: You used to be down with The Roc in its heyday. What’s your relationship with everybody now?
Twista: Everything is real cool. Me being in contact with Ye, that means the world right there. Jay is like the big brother and to be honest I’m bogus because I need to put a call in [laughs]. He did a lot for me. Everybody got a story about Jay about how bogus he is or whatever but me, I’m a little nigga from Chicago who he walked up to in the club and told me he remembered me performing with him from way back in the day. Like ’89 or something. He said ‘you deserve it cause you been going hard all these years.’ That’s my story. Dame has always showed me love like a regular nigga from the crib, that’s why I love Dame. The one I probably keep in contact with the most is probably Freeway. Bleek is cool with one of my mans in Chicago. I did a couple joints with Peedi Crakk, did some stuff with my guys from the Young Gunz on the low. So, I still fuck with the guys.
XXL: Cam’ron’s on the Westside of Chicago a lot. Do you fuck with him when he’s in the city?
Twista: I don’t bump into him a lot when he’s in Chicago, but he fucks with all of my people. The people he fucks with in Chicago are all people I know. So it’s love. That’s one thing I think people don’t know about Cam. You gotta be somewhat of a cool nigga if you can go and connect with niggas in Ohio, Chicago…you gotta be a people person on some level.
XXL: So with your relationship with Jigga, when you left Atlantic was it ever an option to go to Roc Nation for you or not really?
Twista: To a certain extent man, but the type of person I am, it won’t allow me to…Basically, all I can do is let motherfuckers know that I’m free. I like to speak through my music. It was a few opportunities that arose but at the time I was trying to get myself together from being at the end of the Atlantic thing so I had to regroup and find myself for a minute. Once I found myself, I mean it’s cool to be attached with certain people but I gotta be my own leader man. Like, I can be on your label and be under you and that’s cool, but really I gotta do my own thing.
XXL: This is a new game from when you first hit the scene in the early ’90s. How have you changed up your hustle to have this kind of longevity?
Twista: I’m gonna tell you a statement that hit me hard as hell. I was at a seminar recently and I’m just chilling, watching the guys talk on the panel and will.i.am was on the panel. And the man said, ‘I can sit on this panel and tell ya’ll all this good shit but I’m gonna tell ya’ll in the raw. This shit is over. The next plan is to figure out what the fuck can you sell and how can you sell it when you have to give the music away for free.’ It’s those kind of statements that make you try to figure out the game and right now we all in the cocoon stage, trying to figure out what the butterfly is going to look like when the cocoon busts. From what I see, people better latch on to this internet real hard. That’s what I’m on. – Anthony Roberts