There’s a subtle irony in the title of Twista’s impending ninth album The Dark Horse. A term that is better characterized for an unpredictable or unexpected success story, few would ever align it with someone who has collected several gold and platinum plaques over a celebrated twenty-year career, not to mention being an integral part of a city’s emergence within the Rap scene. And yet, using it as a catalyst to light a passionate fire in the booth, this is what separates Twista from rappers who settle for complacent results. When the album comes (it’s tentatively without a release date), it’s safe to say the Chicago emcee will once again have the odds in his favor.
Of course, Twista won’t leave his fans waiting too long for new music, with the mixtape fittingly titled Reloaded due out next week (September 4). In full studio mode, Twista spoke with HipHopDX about the projects features, his kinship with fellow Chicagoan producer The Legendary Traxster and why Rick Ross has earned his lyrical blessing. While still mum on where his Get Money Gang label will end up following swirling rumors of major label partnerships earlier this summer, Twista also explained what fans can expect when the dust settles on that situation.
HipHopDX: With over two decades in the game, you’re a veteran artist known for his extensive solo catalog, as well as collaborative and compilation projects done over the years. However, I believe this is the first time I’ve heard Twista’s named linked to an official solo mixtape with all original material. With that said, what prompted you to make Reloaded?
Twista: Really just the climate of the industry, me still loving to do this Rap music on a high level and seeing the way that all of the artists are doing music today. Everybody is dropping mixtapes, and doing a lot of things. But that is really almost like a necessity. So I felt like it was time for me to just let people see what I’m working on, and how my vibe is. And I felt that my music was different enough right now that if people listened to it, they’d definitely appreciate it.
DX: You talk about different, and so far you’ve released the adrenaline-pumping “I Ain’t Wired Right” as well as the lyrically-dense “Book Of Rhymes” and the catchy club cut “She Sluggin.’” With that type of varietal approach, is there a certain statement you want to make with Reloaded?
Twista: Really, that Twista is here to stay. I tell them that I’m immortal. So it’s just me stepping in and letting them know Twista is here to stay, and that when you truly are a talent, that it doesn’t go away. I plan to do music until I’m an old man.
DX: You’ve been an advocate for shining light on newer artists who you respect, and looking at the track list for Reloaded, it’s understandable that you got Ab-Soul on a record. Tell me about that collaboration.
Twista: Ab-Soul is the man. I listen to his music and I definitely feel like this is where I want to see Hip Hop going when I think about how Hip Hop should sound like today. It was an honor to hear him mention [to Complex.com] that I was one of the artists that he paid attention to coming up, so I felt like it was only right for us to get together and do a collabo. I feel like [“3rd Eye”] was the perfect song to get together and collabo on. We both on there, spittin’ that knowledge and killing it the way we should be.
DX: Now, it’s hard to decide, but is there one record on Reloaded that you’re excited for fans to hear come September 4? That one track where you know they’ll say, “Damn, Twista’s killing ‘em?”
Twista: That’s really the one. That’s my favorite one on the whole thing. And I definitely want them to hear this one track on there called “Bastards And Bitches” with me and Shawnna where we’re just kicking this abstract flow to a hard beat. When they hear that, they’re gonna really wig out. Then there’s a joint with Juicy J called “Yo Bitch Chose Me” where we go in on his whole vibe and how he do his thing, ‘cause I want them to hear Twista still doing his thing and popping in the clubs for the ladies the same way too. I got a different variety of stuff on there.
DX: Moving to your upcoming album The Dark Horse, you said you’ve chosen that title for your ninth studio release because you feel like the dark horse of the music industry. Now is that more so because you feel people underestimate you, or because you’re sort of giving yourself motivation when you’re in the booth?
Twista: Definitely both. I think they underestimate me because a lot of people, they brag and boast all the time about what they do. And a lot of people let their work or their music speak for itself. So me being one of those people who lets the music speak for himself, you know people tend to forget sometimes when I’m not doing too much bragging and boasting in the middle. I feel like that contributes to me being like a dark horse of the industry. And I like putting my foot all the way in when I’m doing a project, because when it’s time to do the music, that’s when it’s time for me to speak.
DX: When you’re in the studio we can always expect you to be in there with The Legendary Traxster. The relationship you guys have created has been very exceptional, a rapper/producer duo that few can match. Tell me about that relationship.
Twista: It’s like a DJ Premier/Guru [Gang Starr] relationship, like when they first came out. It’s like he’s the deejay, and I’m the rapper type of relationship except he’s a producer. Or like a Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg relationship. When we get in the studio, it’s fun to do music with somebody you not only know, but also know that you have made hits together and to know that when you guys go in together, you do have chemistry and it’s magical what you do. With that whole thought process, it’s exciting when I’m working with him.
DX: Of course we’re going to hear Traxster well-represented on the album, but who else have you been working with on the production side for The Dark Horse?
Twista: Man, my deejay Tight Mike. He’s the one who did “Gucci, Louis, Prada,” and he also did this one track that I threw out there called “Kush Rhymes.” And that’s like the vibe that I’m going with on the mixtape, so people can check that out too. I got a few different producers that I’m definitely about to go in on the album with. For the mixtape, it’s mostly DJ Tight Mike and The Legendary Traxster, but I got another producer I worked with out of Chicago called 42 Keyz, so be looking for 42 Keyz to do his thing. At the same time, when I’m working on the album, you know I’m coming at all of the big dogs. The Kanye [West's], the No I.D.’s, everybody for the album. It’s going down.
DX: Along with the production, you’re always the type of individual who has a lot of range when it comes to grabbing features as well. Is there anyone in particular that you’ve worked with recently, or maybe someone you’re planning on securing for the album?
Twista: I’m not sure. My brain is usually everywhere. But I definitely want Kendrick Lamar on the new album. That’s one person I’ll definitely reach out to. And I definitely gotta have [Rick] Ross on the album, for different reasons other than people get him for. They probably get him because he’s hot, but I gotta fuck with him ‘cause when I listen to him I know he’s a true lyricist and I know when we go in live on a certain subject matter, it’s just gonna come out like magic. So I definitely want to mess with him too.
DX: Earlier this May, I got a chance to interview Krizz Kaliko about the record you guys did together for his album called “Kill Shit.” He mentioned to me that it was sort of like a trade off, with you giving him a verse if he returned the favor. Have you guys gotten the chance to get into the booth for some rhymes?
Twista: Not after the verse I did for him. So that’s one of the artists that owes me a verse, and you might hear it on the album. When I get on the phone with Tech N9ne, it probably would only serve right to get Krizz Kaliko on there too.
DX: As an artist you’ve had many homes, whether it be Loud Records, Atlantic, and more recently EMI. The rumors of possible signings to G.O.O.D. Music and Young Money have died down with your current focus being strictly on music. With that said, is there any status update as to where your Get Money Gang label will land?
Twista: The closest hint I can give you right now is that I still like doing things on my own. That’s the best thing I can tell you right now as far as where I end up landing. It’s cool to be blending with other people, and I definitely think just the hoopla and talk of it and excitement of it will definitely be something that can push my brand and everything, but at the same time I still like doing things on my own, and I like to kind of let things fall in place. I just like to let it do what it do, so we’ll see where things take me.
DX: It’s interesting because you’re sort of in a different place now. Whereas earlier in your career it was you for yourself, and now you have your full roster of artists, including B-Hype, Showtime and Melo da Guddaman. It’s not just about Twista at this point; it’s about the whole team. Is that how you’re looking at the situation?
Twista: I’m definitely looking at it like that in a sense of my whole [Get Money Gang] label. So when we talk about landing somewhere, it’s really mostly for distribution for my music and to use them as a company for other aspects. GMG is always going to be the label. That’s my brand, that’s my squad, so we’re gonna be pushing that till the end. That’s the main thing I want people focused on. So when we talk about branding myself or me signing to a label, it’s not really that important as far as the label or who I mess with, because it’s gonna really only be for the distribution. And then I’m gonna be pushing the GMG thing.