Twista's Still Riding for Chicago, Just Ask Spike Lee

Twista's Still Riding for Chicago, Just Ask Spike Lee

Twista chops it up with us about music, film and who is on his radar for 2016.

Published December 28th

“Deep in the woods of Chicago,” is the answer you’ll get when you ask Twista where he is. It’s where his studio is and these days there’s no other place you need to look. Fresh off the release of his latest EP, Living Legend, Twista is completely focused on heralding new music. While it may seem like a tall order to name the EP Living Legend, he named it more for the fans than to brag on his status as an MC. “When I started thinking about that title I started thinking about the fans,” he says. “When I’m out on the streets a lot they’ll see me and all lot of times they’ll pause and look at me and say, ‘You know what, man? You’re a living legend!’”

With time comes growth, and the rapper who holds the Guinness record for fastest rapper in the world has expanded his recording method, leaving more room for spontaneity. “I used to write all of my lyrics. Now sometimes I write and sometimes I make it up as I go along in my head. That, to me, gave the whole art of recording another element of fun.”

Taking a new approach for the upcoming LP, he says, “I don’t want to make the typical album where I’m picking songs out from the dopest songs just to put the collaborative effort together. I might actually start with song one and make that song stay song one.” He ponders, “I want to make it a movie.”

There is one movie that Twista wasn’t really into and that was Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq. The rapper took to Instagram to declare his misgivings about the film when the trailer was released this past fall. He was taken aback. “As soon as I heard the name, I was like, ‘Whoa, wait!’” Yet, it wasn’t the movie’s subject matter that pulled out such a visceral reaction. “For me, that name came about right at a time when the city was trying to kind of do away with the name,” he adds. As much as he originally attacked the famed director, his lasting impression is more about the city he reps so dearly. “Spike Lee is cool! I like his movies and everything,” Twista says. “For Chicago, a subject matter as important as the violence that is going on in the streets...I think it’s a little too serious right now to come with a satire for something like that.”

Twista is die-hard Chicago, all day everyday. It’s what he reps and it’s all knowledge when he talks about the Chicago rap scene; past and present. When asked what makes Chicago stand out among all of the other music cities, he’s quick to point out, “People never got a chance to see us full scale. You got record labels and lawyers and sources of entertainment [on] the East Coast and the West Coast and the south and this big middle consumer market doesn’t have all of these things.” Though, unlike seasoned veteran artists that blame commercial troubles on theInternet, Twista credits the Internet, “Now kids are able to show you what they’re doing from the comfort of their own home and you get a chance to see Chicago in a way that you never saw it. I feel the Internet almost turned Chicago brand new again.”

Even while deep in the process of his tenth LP, he can still see ahead. What does the future hold for Twista? “Running the company more. Helping artists do their thing.” It becomes clear that Twista’s mission isn’t to expose Chicago, but to expose people to what Chicago has to offer. For this rapper, it’s where past, present and future meet.

Check out Twista’s top five new Chi-Town artists to look out for in 2016:

Ty Money

“You can envision his lyrics. [It’s] real dope to hear artists today in this day and age take that vibe and sound of music and make it dope, what is considered ‘street.’”

Saba

“He’s on Chance the Rapper’s record [“Angels”]. I had no reference to let people know who he was but now there’s an actual reference. Saba is dope as hell. We talk about cadences and flows and [stuff] like that.”

Jinx the Natural

“This little guy from Chicago; [he's] just real savvy. I don’t know how to describe his sound. It’s like Southern, but very melodic and Chicago. I don’t want to describe it with the wrong words!”

Supa BWE

“[This little dude] in a group called Hurt Everybody. I guarantee you you’re gonna hear this kid a lot. He sings and raps, very melodic. You’re gonna hear him make some noise in the city.”

DJ Sonny Woods

“He’s been releasing a lot of dope music. I would consider him like a new DJ Khaled-type of DJ from Chicago. He collaborates with some of the dopest artists from Chicago who would probably never do songs together. Definitely look for Sonny Woods.”

(Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Written by Jon Reyes

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