There's fast-rapping, and then there's Twista, whose syllable-stuffing flows have put him in a class of his own and the company of music's all-time greats. Born Carl Mitchell in 1973, Twista grew up on Chicago's West Side and started writing raps as a preteen, eventually landing in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1992 as the fastest rapper alive. He released two albums in the early '90s, but his first major look came in 1996 alongside fellow Windy City emcees Do or Die on their "Po Pimp," which was formative for the city's rap scene. After releasing 1997's Adrenaline Rush—a regional classic that laid his quick-tongued, laser-precise street lyrics over slinky, eerie production—Twista formed Speedknot Mobstaz while guesting on songs with Diddy, JAY-Z, and Ludacris. All his work culminated in 2003's ubiquitous "Slow Jamz" featuring Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, which finds West accelerating a Luther Vandross sample as all three artists pay homage to R&B icons. With that love-themed single, another Kanye collab ("Overnight Celebrity"), and the R. Kelly-assisted "So Sexy," Twista became a bona fide Midwestern legend, rapping alongside Mariah Carey, Chris Brown, Lady Gaga, Pharrell, and many more for over a decade. But on 2019's Summer 96 mixtape, he revisits the high stakes of his days before stardom. "I could just see you now with the look of disgust up on your face, to see the way I'm still killin' it," Twista spits on "War Ready." But don't look away, or you'll miss a word.
BORNNovember 27, 1973