Born Carl Terrell Mitchell, Twista built a name for himself in the early 90s by popularizing the “Chopper” flow. The fast-paced rapping style originated in the Midwest but went on to be utilized by numerous emcees across the country. Not only did Twista’s signature tongue-twisting rhymes captivate hip hop fans, but in 1992 he was also spotlighted for his abilities in “Guinness World Records.” He released his debut album Runnin’ Off At Da Mouth that same year and was later signed to Atlantic Records. 1997’s Adrenaline Rush was the rapper’s first charting album, peaking at No. 77 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Throughout the early aughts, he continued to release new projects and make guest appearances on notable tracks, but his breakthrough came in 2004 with the album Kamikaze. For this effort, Twista secured guest appearances from Kanye West, Ludacris, T.I. and more. The Kanye-produced “Slow Jamz,” which also featured Jamie Foxx, was the first single off the project and peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. He followed it up with another single produced by Ye called “Overnight Celebrity,” which received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance in 2005. Kamikaze also spawned the singles “So Sexy” and “Sunshine” and is Twista’s most successful album to date.
Now, with over 15 albums under his belt, the legendary emcee is celebrating 30 years in the rap game. He also wants to bring about change in his city amid the rising gun violence. In 2020, he opened a gun camp to help educate the community on firearm safety.
Following his “Drink Champs” appearance, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from Twista’s interview. Check them out below.
1. On why he adopted the Chopper flow
Twista was one of the earliest emcees to adopt the rapid-fire Chopper flow. On “Drink Champs,” he talked about his decision to take on this style and said he did it to stand out. “I just got into it early on because I wanted to switch up the style a little bit,” he explained. “Everybody was doing punchlines and metaphors but I was rhythmical with it. I wanted to do something different, so I just started playing with the cadence.”
2. On being honored by “Guinness World Records”
In 1992, “Guinness World Records” named Twista “the World’s Fastest Rapper.” He was credited with the ability to rap 598 syllables in 55 seconds. During the interview, Twista revealed to N.O.R.E. and EFN that he used the record as a promotional ploy to get people to buy his debut album. “It was like a gift, and it was the perfect promotion tool for me,” he said. “Nobody broke the record for a long time.”
3. On making R&B tracks
With songs like “Girl Tonite” featuring Trey Songz and “Make a Movie” featuring Chris Brown, Twista has proven over the years that he’s just as adept at making R&B tracks for the ladies as he is at making street records. He believes having the versatility to do both is necessary, and he also thinks that his rhyming style works well with R&B tracks. “I think you got to have [R&B songs],” he said. “I think it helps that my cadence is an R&B cadence so that plays into it.”
4. On Chicago rappers not being respected in the music industry
Twista’s arrival came in the early 90s, a time that is often hailed as the golden era of rap. He told the “Drink Champs” crew that, at that time, Chicago emcees weren’t respected in the music industry as they are today. “We weren’t accepted,” he recalled. “Chicago wasn’t being heard at the time I was trying to come out. I was the artist that had to tell everybody that Chicago is dope. I was the one that had to go out there and speak that shit. I was one of the first artists that had to let them know about the city.”
5. On the making of “Overnight Celebrity”
After linking up with Kanye on the track “Slow Jamz,” Twista followed up with the Ye-produced single “Overnight Celebrity” in 2004. During the interview, he talked about how the track came together and said that sampling the 1978 song “’Cause I Love You” by Lenny Williams was his idea. “It was actually a sample that I wanted to use,” he revealed. “I knew that once [Kanye] got his hands on a record like that, with what he was doing with all of the soul music, that he was going to kill it.”
Twista added that Kanye told him he struggled to create the beat at first, but he ultimately finished it. “He was like, ‘It took me a minute to get it how I wanted to get it, but I got it,’” Twista said. “Then he sent it to me and it was messing my head up. I felt the pressure because we had the ‘Slow Jamz’ record out there. Then I heard the hook. That’s all it took.”
6. On never signing with Roc-A-Fella Records
After scoring a pair of hit records with Kanye, Twista developed a relationship with many other artists and execs at Roc-A-Fella Records. In fact, he was often spotted in pictures wearing a Roc chain. However, the rapper explained that while there were talks to bring him over to the camp, it never officially worked out. “It didn’t get a chance to happen,” he said. “We were going to make it happen. I had a lot of love for the guys. We had a dope relationship. Me and Dame used to chop it up a lot. We were trying to make it happen, but I was too deeply embedded in my contract situation with Atlantic to move the business around.”
7. On being dissed by Treach of Naughty by Nature
Although it’s safe to say that Twista definitely popularized the Chopper style of rapping, emcees who had similar cadences didn’t appreciate newcomers invading their turf. According to Twista, Treach of Naughty by Nature was one of those emcees. The New Jersey rapper expressed his grievances on wax via the 1993 track “The Hood Comes First.” On “Drink Champs,” Twista recalled what happened when he first heard the diss. “I was a fan at the time, so this shit froze me,” he recalled. “We had a meeting in Chicago because it felt like it was going to escalate into some other shit.”
Twista later added that his decision to not escalate the beef proved to be a good one because he later ran into Treach at an XXL magazine photo shoot in New York. Fortunately, nothing popped off. “We were like, ‘Oh shit,’” he recalled. “[Treach was like], ‘You in my hood now, but it’s cool.’” At that time, we [were] cordial but had it been some shit going on, it could have been [bad].”
8. On being a firearm instructor
Over the years, Chicago’s gun violence and crime rate has made national headlines. Twista wants to help change the tide. He told N.O.R.E. and EFN that he recently opened a gun camp in the city to educate people on firearm safety. “The problem is illegal guns,” he insisted. “Guns getting into the hands of people that shouldn’t have them. Education is part of the key. I do competition shooting and stuff like that to change the narrative about guns because I think education and perspective is one of the keys to help steer what’s going on.”
9. On maintaining his passion to create music
Twista has been in the game for over 30 years, and he’s still releasing new music. When asked by N.O.R.E. how he continues to stay motivated to create new material, the emcee said that being able to incorporate some of his other interests in his music is what keeps it fun.
“I still love creating music, but what makes me love it differently is other things going on — just knowing that I take my music and rap about the stuff that I do. The one thing with music is that you have to find ways to keep making it passionate. Sometimes when you start to lose your passion, find what else you may be passionate about.”