“Knowing my personality, that I’m laid-back and low-key and there’s not a lot of rah-rah, I’m usually the one that people least expect to stand out,” he says. “I’m not just talking about being on a track. I’m talking about when I’m in a room with the big dogs.
I’m usually the last person expected to do something. My name also gets left off the Top MCs list, so I took on the mentality of where feel like I’m looked at as a dark horse in the industry. I like to just come out unexpectedly and shine on them.”
Life’s best surprises often come from unlikely places. Twista knows this better than most. The pioneering platinum rapper put Chicago on the rap map and made the double-time rap style a rap staple. Despite selling millions of albums and popularizing a delivery incorporated by everyone from Jay-Z to Eminem, the Windy City rapper remains largely unheralded by the uninformed.
Twista became even more popular in 2003 and 2004 when he teamed with fellow Chicagoan Kanye West and Jamie Foxx for the smash single “Slow Jamz.” Twista’s 2004 album, Kamikaze, earned him his first platinum plaque.
Since then, Twista has remained one of rap’s premier practitioners and in-demand collaborators. He’s appeared on albums from Mariah Carey, Pitbull and Jay-Z, among others, and released a string of acclaimed albums and mixtapes.
But for Twista, it all comes down to the music. It’s the reason he’s remained one of rap’s top talents for two decades. “It’s the love of the music,” he says. “I do other things and I have other business ventures that I do, but my love is really with the music. I keep doing it and staying in it because I love music. I still get excited every time I hear a beat or think of a different flow.”
When Twista was plotting to release the Ep, he surveyed the music scene. “I was looking at the climate of the industry and seeing a lot of artists who were dropping material, not necessarily whole albums but mixtapes, EPs,” Twista says. “I felt like this was something fresh for the times for me to come out with, but something that was still different than the norm, which was an EP.”
The results, Twista 'Livin Legend' EP, will please the fans who have been following Twista since the mid-1990s as well as new fans. Case in point is lead single “Models & Bottles,” feat. Jeremih and Lil Bibby is a smooth club banger for the streets.
It’s the latest in a long line of the type of R&B-flavored hardcore rap catering to women that has become a signature of Twista.
“My fans connect with that sound and nobody really does it like how I do it,” Twista says. “You’ve heard people try to do it or copy it, but they never do it like me.” While “Models & Bottles” talks about raising your glasses and toast to life, “Beautiful” pays homage to women who remain loyal their man and stay on the grind.
Twista fans have also been down with him because of the gangster material he has delivered throughout his career, which are highlighted by a string of gold and platinum releases. Twista drawn to this darker sound because of the backdrop the Windy City provides. “Chicago, this is a war zone,” Twista says. “So when I hear those dark, melodic beats, it’s like a reality to me that makes me snap.”
Twista snaps throughout the bone-crushing EP-opening “Intro.” The song’s quick, precise movement belies the time it took to develop its title. I don’t know if it’s some Chi-town stuff, but when I kick my albums off, the intro is an important thing. If i was feeling it that fiercely, I'm going to call it ‘Intro.’”
Being able to traverse between the dark and hard sound that endears him to the streets as well as the sexy style he delivers for the women is something that has made Twista distinctive.
“That sound is accepted is because it’s what the younger cats are doing today, with a twist,” he says. “That’s why I'm still relevant. When I started making music and the Dr. Dre’s, the Ice Cube’s and the Geto Boys, that particular sound trickled down to me. Then I created a sound that trickled down to the younger generation, so it’s still being accepted.”
Since then, Twista released a string of successful albums and singles, highlighted by 2004’s platinum Kamikaze album and 2009’s gold single “Wetter,” as well as collaborations with everyone from Kanye West to Lady Gaga. “It’s a great setup to do an EP to let the fans know that I haven't went anywhere” Twista says. So this is like a warm-up to let my fans know that I'm back.”