Twista has been a staple within the Hip Hop community for the best part of 35 years. Speeding out the gate in the early ’90s with his mesmerizing, rapid-fire flow — which in 1992 earned him the title of World’s Fastest Rapper, according to Guinness World Records — he took the underground by storm, before kicking things into overdrive thanks to his show-stealing guest verse on Do Or Die‘s 1996 Rap-A-Lot Records classic “Po Pimp.”

This breakthrough set the scene for the success that would come with the Chicago rapper’s platinum-selling third studio album, Adrenaline Rush. By his own admission, the 1997 LP established him as “a real rapper” and helped validate rappers from his hometown. “It meant you had to accept that artists from Chicago could spit,” he told HipHopDX.



But despite the accolades that came at the hands of Adrenaline Rush, it was his 2004 album, Kamikaze, that catapulted Twista into a whole other stratosphere — and probably tax bracket, too. Arriving on the heels of several high-profile features, including tracks with JAY-Z, Usher, Ludacris, Diddy, Trick Daddy and Lil Kim, the Atlantic Records release solidified the Speedknot Mobsta as a bonafide commercial star — and gave him his very first No. 1 album.

A treasure trove of hits, the 16-track project — which has just been certified double platinum by the RIAA — includes the anthems “Overnight Celebrity,” “So Sexy,” “Hope,” “Sunshine,” and, of course, the game-changing No.1 smash “Slow Jamz” featuring Kanye West and Jamie Foxx — which can also be found on Ye’s groundbreaking debut album, The College Dropout.



To celebrate Kamikaze turning 20 on Saturday (January 27), DX caught up with Twista to revisit the chart-topping album, running through some of its biggest hits and discussing how big of an impact it had on his career.

HipHopDX: It’s been 20 years since the release of Kamikaze. Does it feel like it’s been that long to you?

Twista: “No, not at all. The first time somebody said to me, ‘You know it’s the anniversary?’ I was like, ‘Oh, my God!’ Time is flying, but it’s definitely a blessing.”

Do you remember how you were feeling during its creation?

“It was a dope time period for me. I had success before but I don’t think I felt the type of success that I wanted doing music until I made records like ‘Slow Jamz.’ I just remember it being surreal. I remember doing an in-store one time in the city and a line of people were just wrapped around the corner to come see me. It was crazy.

“The thing I liked most about [that time] was it felt like a blessing. It was like God said, ‘You didn’t get it like you wanted it, let me give it to you the way you really want it.’ And that album was so amazing to record.”

There was a six-year gap between Kamikaze and your previous album, 1998’s Mobstability — the longest of your career. Was there a particular reason for that?

“Yes, the music industry as a whole — the whole thing [of] dealing with the music industry. It wasn’t so much anything in my life that was going on, it was contract issues and things like that. So those six years were — some gruelling, some pleasurable, but we made it out, and when I got to do the Kamikaze record, that’s why I felt like it was so much of a blessing.”



Despite not releasing an album during that period, you were on a tear as far features go. In fact, it seemed like you were a regular on songs by Roc-A-Fella artists, namely JAY-Z. How did your relationship with the ROC begin?

“I had did a record for Timbaland early on, and then he ended up using it for Jay, and so JAY-Z is someone I met a long time ago — he saw me coming up. So by the time we got to ‘Slow Jamz,’ and I think this was the time period I was rehearsing for the ‘Is That Your Chick?’ record, he heard it and was like, ‘This needs to be a single for you and Kanye [West].’ Jay was the one that actually called that out.

“From that point on, I would constantly do work with them or be travelling with them. We actually tried to make it happen on a business level, but I was already in a commitment with Atlantic Records so we couldn’t make it happen, but we remained friends.”

So even though Dame Dash put that ROC chain around your neck and said on “Champions” that he had recruited you, you were never actually signed to Roc-A-Fella Records in an official capacity?

“No, but it did come that close. I didn’t actually sign anything but at one point I felt like it was actually about to happen. That’s the reason that Dame would even take it that far. That was a dope period, man. When I recorded the ‘Champions’ record with them — that was around that time — you couldn’t tell me that it wasn’t gonna happen. And that’s why I went so hard on that track, too.”

How long did it take you to record Kamikaze?

“I can’t remember how long it took me to actually make the whole project but I do remember taking this one a little more serious than I had ever taken any record. I knew what I wanted to do. So I can’t remember the length of time that it took me to record but I do remember going into studio and recording at least one to three songs every day — this happened around the time Lil Wayne was hot and he started dropping all those records. I think every rapper at that time was inspired by his work ethic and drive, including me.”

Being that you were doing three songs a day most days, does this mean there are some tracks that didn’t make it off the cutting room floor?

“For sure. There’s definitely some records that didn’t make the cut that I have just sitting in the vault.”

Do you think they’ll ever see the light of day?

“Some of them I’ve released on other records. There’s a few records with Do Or Die that came out; so there’s a few records here and there that I’ve released. Then there’s a few that I haven’t released yet. But for the most part, since then up to now, I did use a lot of those records.”

The album’s biggest song is “Slow Jamz” featuring Kanye West and Jamie Foxx. Is it fair to say that record changed your life?

“It’s hard to say that because I have a few more records that did the same thing. I would say the ‘Po Pimp’ record also had a big impact on my life. So it’s hard to kind of pinpoint one record when I say that. ‘Slow Jamz’ definitely had a major effect on my life, but I think that shift happened when I put the ‘Po Pimp’ record out with Do Or Die. That changed my life right there.”

The album’s second single, “Overnight Celebrity,” is another Kanye West-produced track that ran up the charts. Do you have a preference between the two?

“I think they both play a special part in my heart. ‘Slow Jamz’ because of the opportunity it gave me, but I think ‘Overnight Celebrity’ has a special place in my heart because I actually gave that sample to Kanye. So even though he made the beat, I actually took him the Lenny Williams record. I didn’t know where he was going to take it, but he took it over the top.”

“Hope” is a song that seemed to take on a life of its own, becoming a sort of unofficial post-9/11 theme. Was that on purpose?

“It just grew into that. That song was one of the first songs where I reached into my emotions a little bit. It also had a big place in my heart because of the way I wrote it. I remember writing it in my phone, or maybe it was a Sidekick, and I remember accidentally erasing the song. I literally got tearful because of how much work I put in it.

“So I sat back — it was good I was a rapper and decided to just reminisce through the flow a little bit — and I think I dug at least 85 percent of the song back out of my mind. I was like, ‘Okay, I said this. Okay, I said that.’ So I might have lost maybe four bars at the most, but I pretty much dug it back out.”



That record — which has two versions: one with CeeLo Green; another with Faith Evans — touched a lot of people. Do you remember any special fan moments you had because of it?

“I remember getting a call because the song had been played by a child who wanted a new home. I forget the name of the show but they were going to build these people a new home, and the little girl that was in the family said that one of the songs she used to listen to in her wishing for a new home was ‘Hope.’ So that’s when Faith Evans got involved with the song. That whole vibe was special to me because even though it touched a lot of people, that story touched me the most.”

You teamed up with Anthony Hamilton, on “Sunshine,” which was a huge hit across the pond. What was it like working with him on that track?

“That record is one of my favourites because I like Anthony Hamilton a lot. When I got the opportunity to actually have him on a record, I was so geeked. I was probably a little more starstruck than he knew at the time, but I was very geeked to have Anthony Hamilton on that record. And he sung it so lovely, then the beat and everything about that record — that’s one of my favourites, too.”

Besides the Bill Withers “Lovely Day” sample, it also nods to 2Pac with the lyrics: “I keep my mind on my money, money on my mind/ I got my finger on the trigger, staying on the grind,” which are taken from his MC Breed collab, “Gotta Get Mine.” How big of an influence was ‘Pac on you?

2Pac was a big influence on me, musically — his whole vibe as an artist. To me, ‘Pac was one of the first artists that came out and affected you. He was social media before social media, you know what I mean? That’s the feeling that I got from him. Then I remember listening to his songs when his album came out. [He had] a bunch of records but I started to get super mesmerized when I heard ‘Ambitionz az a Ridah,’ those type of records. [All Eyez On Me] did it for me right there. But then I was always a fan because I was a fan of his acting and Juice.”

How would you best sum up what Kamikaze means to you?

Kamikaze made me a real artist. I was able to do records with other celebrities and use beats and samples that you wouldn’t have thought that certain people would clear or get cleared. I really feel like it solidified me as a real artist and I got to experience the music industry from a level that I wanted to experience it at. I feel like I kicked in the door with Adrenaline Rush, but Kamikaze put me where I needed to be.”



Do you have any plans to celebrate its anniversary?

“I’m definitely going to want to listen to the record, party with my friends and a lot of people that were around at the time. I’ll probably go [on IG] Live and spit some of the songs and just play the record. You know what I mean? But I don’t have any big plans, like a tour or anything.”

Twista’s Kamikaze is available to purchase on burnt orange 140g vinyl here. You can also stream it in full below: