Lil Twist Talks Lil Wayne’s ‘Big Influence,’ Justin Bieber Collaboration, 4,000 Album Songs
Lil Twist believes that patience is a virtue. He started his career with the Young Money imprint six years ago, at 13, carefully making a name for himself and waiting in the wings for his turn to shine. Now, that day has finally come, and at Lil Wayne's direction, the 19-year-old rapper is well-prepared to take the industry by storm. He's been revamping his debut project, Don't Get It Twisted, for some time now, intent on cementing his brand for good.
Recently, the Dallas native hit the road with crooning quartet Mindless Behavior, joining the group on their white-hot #1 Girl tour. By doing so, he increased his buzz to deafening levels. Determined to make an impact on today's hip-hop scene, Lil Twist is ready for action.
The BoomBox caught up with the young rhymer during his tour stop in Atlanta, where he talked about online popularity, why he recorded 4,000 songs for his album, his relationship with Wayne, receiving kudos from Busta Rhymes and what he's got in store with Justin Bieber.
How much of your hometown plays into your music?
I love my city of Dallas. I love the music scene out there, for sure, but I wouldn't say that it plays any part in the music that I make.
It's been said that Dallas has more of a dance thread running through its rap music.
Yeah, definitely. At home, there's a lot of dancing going on with the music, and there's nothing wrong with that. The very first song that I produced when I was 10 years old was a dance song. Now that I've been with Young Money, I've been trying to produce better songs and more real songs, touching songs, more girl-based songs, different stuff like that.
You're performing on the #1 Girl tour currently. At the Atlanta show, I saw a few women in the crowd jump up for you when you hit the stage. Has anything happened yet on the road that's just been completely shocking?
Well, while on this #1 Girl tour, I've been chased, had the outside of my bus getting beat up ... There are always great experiences, but I haven't had that experience just yet that's head-over-heels crazy. It might happen in Dallas [laughs].
It was nice of you to bring a girl onstage and two-step with her. Very cute. Do you do that during every set?
Yeah, yeah, I find the #1 Girl in every city. She comes up and starts working with me and giving the crowd something to enjoy. Some girls be hating, but it's fun [laughs].
There's a rumor about you working with Justin Bieber on the Believe tour. Can you confirm that?
Um, I can say yeah, it's gonna be crazy. Something's gonna happen. I can't say too much.
When you took the stage in Atlanta, there were a couple of interview blurbs playing in the background as your intro.
That was [Shade 45 radio host] Devi Dev on there. Devi, [Shade 45 radio host] Sway and then it was me. A lot of people think that it's Wayne, because for some reason I sound exactly like him at the very beginning, but that's me.
That was a cool moment. Speaking of Wayne, though, how much input would you say he has on your music?
I've been with Wayne since I was 13. Wayne enjoys me a lot and just life, period. Before I was even putting music out to the world and gaining fans, he just took me under his wing and was showing me life and then showed me music. During that whole time-period, he had me developing and staying in the studio, but he was just basically letting me know what it's gon' be like. Now that I'm here, and we've been here for a little minute, we're ready. But he has a big influence on me.
It's funny to think about because you and Wayne both started in music at the age of 13. But the music he was making then was much different then what you were making.
When I first came around, I was doing music for the girls, and he had nothing to say about that. Like, that was just the stuff I was doing. Like, when I came up with "Little Secret" with Bow Wow, that was just something that I wanted to do, and all the other "girl records" I was just doing in the studio and never put out, he had nothing to say about that. Then later on, once he got out of jail and stuff, he told me once he came home, like, "Lil' bro, it's time to grow up. Time to turn up." From that point, I dropped, "Turn't Up" with Busta Rhymes.
Are you ever surprised at long how it's taken you to be at the forefront now, after being in the industry for six years? Have you ever felt discouraged?
No, I always knew. Nothing was a secret. I always knew that I was sort of going through development, and I knew that my time was coming, and I knew how I had to make that time come, so once I started working as an artist in the studio, that's what my brother [Wayne] really liked. He likes my work ethic. And the whole family likes my work ethic, so once I started in the studio and made songs and got a fanbase that was actually big enough to catch Uncle Stunna's [Birdman] eye, and Lil Wayne's eye, they were like, "Well, it's time to go." Then that fanbase grew bigger and bigger...
As far as discouragement goes, no, I wouldn't say I felt too much. It's been times when I was in the studio and I did so many songs and scratched them because I didn't want them anymore. I'd heard them so many times. Like how I had Don't Get It Twisted [album] done, and I'd listened to that album so many times before you guys did. Then I didn't like it, and I scratched it, did over all these songs. Something like that. I don't know if you would call that discouragement, but I'll just say starting over.
Your online presence is huge. More than 1 million followers on Twitter and nearly 3 million likes on Facebook. When did you notice your fanbase explode?
Just being on the internet. When I was on social networks like, every day. I was on UStream everyday. I'd bang on that and my fan base would grow. Lil' Wayne's fanbase would come over and be my fanbase, just through UStream. Even when I had my brother on UStream, or when I was in the studio all night on UStream playing music, I would see my online viewers start to go up every night. Then it started going into the 10s of thousands, 20,000, 70,000 viewers. That's when we knew it was about to turn up. From that point is when the followers went up and the Facebook likes went crazy.
In total, how many songs do you think you've recorded for Don't Get It Twisted?
When I first got my MacBook, when I first got over to Young Money, I always wanted my album to be titled Don't Get It Twisted. From the first song I recorded for it up until now, I would say, from starting to scratching -- since I thought I was gonna drop an album when I was 13 -- I would have like 3,000 to 4,000-plus songs.
How often would you say you record now?
I've been on tour for so long. I just got off tour with Tyga -- the Careless World tour -- and I was home for a little bit, and I was recording for those couple of weeks, and then I was back out with this tour. So it hasn't been much.
Are you worried about whether or not your style is strong enough to shine through all the features on the LP?
Uh, no. I'm not worried about that. I know these songs are amazing that I have. The features that I have are amazing, and I just know that my fans are gonna like it. I don't think I'll be worried about anything once I have it out.
What's been your best studio experience so far?
Man, I got a lot of those -- from all my different friends who are artists coming in and giving me advice. But I can remember, while recording "Turn't Up," and after recording my two verses, I was in Quad Studios, and Busta came in with a whole bunch of advice and good news for me and told me how much he was proud of me. All my homies were there, so for Busta Rhymes to do that in front of me and my homies, that was all dope.