interview Twista Interview (July 2009) | Interview By: Jonathan Hay and Chad Kiser

   Take cover, Hurricane Twista has begun to impact. Like a massive tornado tearing through neighborhoods all across the land, Twista is bringing damage to the game with his new album, appropriately titled Category F5 (FYI: symbolic of the most catastrophic of all hurricanes).

This legendary emcee is at the eye of the storm, literally flooding the industry with his whirlwind flow. He’s raining down on the Billboard charts and hitting all cylinders with force — landing the Billboard #1 Rap album, #3 R&B album, #8 Pop album and the #1 Digital Amazon album. I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore.

We took a trip to the City of Angels for this Dubcnn exclusive interview by Jonathan Hay and Chad Kiser, where we talked about everything from Michael Jackson to Kanye West, Biggie to Static Major and much, much more.

So sound the alarm and find the nearest shelter, cause Twista is hitting your city like you’ve never seen before…and it doesn’t look like his path of destruction is coming to an end any time soon.

Interview was done in July 2009

Questions Asked By: Jonathan Hay

Interview Assistance By: Sabrina
Dubcnn Exclusive – Twista
By: Jonathan Hay And Chad Kiser

Dubcnn: First of all, how do you personally feel about the loss of Michael Jackson, both as a person and as the extraordinary artist he was.

It was actually more devastating to me than I thought it would be. We were running around in New Orleans [promoting], doing a bunch of things... We were busy, so we heard about it and we were really just talking amongst each other riding, from place to place. When we all got back to the hotel and went into our own rooms, turned on the TV – and after talking about it all day and then seeing the image – that’s when it really hit me, that we pretty much lost that person, the most famous person of our day is gone. It is a big thing to me to think, man Michael Jackson is already gone. It was definitely a devastating thing… I have used his music before, you know everybody has done something, in some form, especially if you are true artist of music, you gotta honor him a little bit.

Dubcnn: Yea, definitely…

I took it a little hard.

Dubcnn: I want to ask you a question, obviously, on your huge [#1], single “Slow Jamz” Kanye [West] has the lyrics: “She has a light skin friend, look like Michael Jackson / She has a dark skinned friend, look like Michael Jackson.” Looking back now, do you think those lyrics could have offended Michael in anyway? How do you feel about that now?

Really to be honest, being an artist of his caliber - - and even though I know Kanye had no ill intention, he was just having fun with it; you know just being witty…. To actually sit and think about it and to know actually what the condition really was [Vitiligo] and going through some of the things like that… It definitely probably hurt him to some extent. I definitely think too at the same time, that he knew that Kanye was a young, up and coming, creative artist who had a hot line that really blew up. You know, that is the power of Michael Jackson. I definitely think it could have probably got to him a little bit, when I really sit and think about the whole thing, but it was not done at any ill will.

Dubcnn: No, because Michael [Jackson] reached out to Kanye [West] and he did the Thriller 25 with him just last year, so…

Right, Right… so… there you have it.

*[Dubcnn note: The Michael Jackson song in reference is “Billie Jean 2008” from Thriller 25]*

Dubcnn: When I listen to Slow Jamz now, I feel like man… it is witty and clever obviously, but I always wondered how Michael felt about that.

When I go out and perform the song for the fans, when they say the line - - cause the DJ will always drop the beat on those two lines and the fans always say it in a appreciative manner, until they actually say the line - - and then that’s when it hits them… aw’man. It is a nice experience to see everyone kinda show love to Michael.

Dubcnn: You can turn the song into a tribute, honestly, because the song is about all the old-school R&B joints anyway.


Dubcnn: What about Kanye, do you still do any work with him, or communicate with him at all?

We actually did do a new track for the album, but we couldn’t get the mix done in time for it to be on the original version of the album, so we added the song as a bonus cut [on iTunes] to the album. It is definitely a dope song that Kanye produced – with No I.D on the drums and it is called “Alright.”

Dubcnn: If you could, reflect back to your mind frame during the actual creation of this new album and what was different this time around?

One of the things was getting back in the studio with Traxster [The Legendary Traxster], and not only on the beats – but on the actual engineering and recording process. It gave us that whole Adrenaline Rush [*early Twista album; released 1997] vibe… and we could take advantage of each other’s talents and really get it in the way we wanted to. That was one big difference right there and also having the creative control to be able to put together a full image of working together - instead of someone just telling you what to do from a business standpoint, or what they think. I had fun being able to do what I wanted to do on this new album.

Dubcnn: So is this more of a personal album would you say than your other ones…

Personal in a sense of the album itself, yea… it is definitely personal to me. However, as far as the content, not really, as I mostly do songs to make you feel good, or to feel a certain mood. However, on my next and upcoming projects, I will tap into that real personal side and express myself on a big level. But as far as the album itself, it was definitely personal to me.

Dubcnn: I know what you mean, it is entertainment – and Category F5, from a lyrical standpoint, isn’t a transparent and introspective album, although it is personal to you… I do feel though, that people want to hear from you, that other-side you mentioned.

No doubt!!!

Dubcnn: Static Major, who I went to school with [both Middle and High School] from Louisville, Kentucky, is also appearing on your album, and Static Major just like Michael Jackson – although not on the same success level, was definitely gone too soon… How did that song come about for your new album?

You know what; we didn’t actually link up personally to do the track. But I did meet him personally before. The vibe was close though, seeing that he wrote for Aaliyah, who also worked around my hometown - - and just being a fan of his music and the things that he wrote. It was amazing to talk to his management and the people around him to find out that he was such a big fan of my music - - and that really touched me. You can tell on the song [Gotta Get Me One] that my musical influence was part of his creation for the song, which came together for [Category] F5. It was a perfect fit and I wanted to honor his memory and have it on the album. It reminded me of the Biggie thing [The Biggie Duets album, Duets: The Final Chapter] – the tribute to Biggie with Bone and everything and I was like, you feel some sense of calling when you get the opportunity to do something honoring like that. Some people don’t feel like it is a good idea, because they feel like if the person is not around, then you shouldn’t do it. But to me, I feel like things just don’t fall into people’s lap out of the blue like that. I take it as a blessing and a calling to continue the artists’ legacy.

Dubcnn: I always wondered, when you are doing a project like that - - and when you’re in the recording studio, and you have the headphones on and that deceased artist voice comes through and you are recording to it – it that kind of like a surreal experience… and do you feel a certain way during that process?

Yea, you do… like me; I do feel a certain way. I don’t know how other people feel when they do it, but when I’m doing it and I know they aren’t here - - and I’m listening to their vocals [while recording] I feel like I’m doing the music with them in spirit. That is the best way I can explain it.

Dubcnn: That is deep Twista. Yea, Static [Major] was an amazing artist.

Oh yea, even on that track [Gotta Get Me One] I hear a lot of talent - - and I don’t know what to call it, but I hear a lot of passion flowing out of that track from his vocals. He was great…

Dubcnn: You have so many major features on your album - - and my question is… when you were recording Category F5 where you actually in the studio with the artists who appeared, or did you email tracks and vocals back and forth… How did that aspect go down?

Well, we move around a lot, but with, Do Or Die and Young Buck we were closer [geographically]. With these days and with the technology - - it’s easier and more convenient to email tracks and vocal parts - - but definitely a creative process took place and we sat down, whether it was on the phone and talked about it the same way as if we were sitting in the studio together. So I feel like I got a vibe with each song we made.

Dubcnn: So where did you do the bulk of the recording?

In my studio, in Chicago…

Dubcnn: Do you miss recording like it was back in the day – you know, when you were in those mainly private, huge studio rooms, with all that huge vintage Analog gear… and it was actually something, to be in a recording studio.

Hell yeah!!! I miss the hell out of that. I crack jokes about that all the time, like I’m about to go to the store and grab some razor blades so we can edit some tape and piece this music together… I miss the old stuff; the old systems, the DATS, ADATS, D88’s – all the old boards and all the old gear… I am definitely missing that stuff.

Dubcnn: I was talking to Chuck D and he was telling me the same thing. When artists’ used to go to the studio, it used to be a big deal. Chuck said, it’s like now, you can literally just roll out of bed and your studio is right there in your bedroom.

I agree, but the good thing about it though, is that you still carry that vibe with you… no matter where you are at. We can still turn that room, into that room… You can still get that feel.

Dubcnn: Will there be much of a tour to support Category F5?

Yes… And I love to tour – I love doing shows and I love to be on the road, but only when I can go back home. I don’t like when it is consistent week after week after week, but if I can get out – then come home for two days out of every week, then I could stay out like that for the rest of my life.

Dubcnn: Last question… Who are some of your favorite emcees of all-time?

Rakim, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Dougie Fresh and Slick Rick, Fat Boys, Beastie Boys, Organized Noise, KRS-One… so you see where my head is at when it comes to my favorites!!!

Dubcnn: Thanks so much, Twista!

No, thank you!



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