by music editor Fabre
I remember seeing the cover art to Twista’s album Kamikaze. There is a deteriorated room, a crazed wailing clone of Twista in the corner, and his expression in a straight jacket-topped with an eerie glare with which I can only imagine him saying “Get out! You’re interrupting us.” I had walked in on Twista exorcising his demons, and those demons could not act pretty. In 2003, I was getting lost in Andre 3k’s “Prototype” and learning how to be cool with Pharrell’s “Frontin’”. Can’t forget about 50 Cent’s debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’ which was nominated that year for Best Rap Album at the Grammy Awards, but ultimately ended up losing to Outkast’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below. However, when Slow Jamz dropped late that year I just could not get over that Luther Vandross sample and could not wait for the album.
Considering Kamikaze was Twista’s first solo release since 1997, it was my first real experience with the Tung Twista. I knew what it was like when a rapper was able to catch the wave, or catch a rhythm and ride it-but Twista was sprinting down these beats. The first track “Get Me” finds Twista showing his chest, daring his enemies to strike. “Slow Jamz” introduced me to Kanye West and opened my eyes to a beautiful world of underground Chicago music. “Overnight Celebrity” helps moderate the intensity of the album.
Twista was and always will be Chicago. From ten years before Kamikaze was released to right now, Twista has always expressed how rappers need to do more than just make music. They have a social responsibility; a voice given to them by the people. A voice that should be used to expose the truth and uplift those who have been oppressed.
Twista’s activist attitude has not only influenced the Chicago hip hop community but has also allowed him to stay relevant all these years. That element of rebellion that we got from him early on in his career is ever so present in the youth of today, not only in Chicago, but this country. Which is why we see him collaborating with artists such as Lil’ Reese and those in the Savemoney collective. He’s still out there on the front lines, lending his rapid fire flow to the new wave of artists speaking out about the injustices that many face everyday in this country. Thanks Tung Twista, for giving Chicago music the support it needed and creating a space for the new voices to speak up.
Here are my five most influential Twista songs/features.
Slow Jamz ft. Kanye West & Jamie Foxx
Give It Up ft. Pharrell
Po Pimp Do or Die
Traffic ft. Lil’ Reese & Young Jeezy