MIAMI BEACH, Florida — Twista is in a confusing place right now.
Physically, the rapper is in South Beach to film the video for his upcoming single "Give It Up," produced by and featuring Pharrell Williams. The clip, directed by Hype Williams, is based in part on an idea Pharrell shared with Hype about alluring women appearing next to equally alluring items.
"It's gonna be a nice, colorful joy ride for the fellas," Twista said from the set. "[Hype] heard the song and [had] a vision. He was just like, 'After all this time, we get to work together.' And I never thought he paid much attention to my career like that. But he was telling me, 'Man, I get a chance to really bring out your lyrics — I haven't seen other directors really bring them out the way it needs to be.' He got me real charged talking about his visual effects, the colors. He's really into this video."
And so is Pharrell. "The beat is definitely some booty-shaking, strip-club kind of record," P told MTV News earlier in the day. "And it kind of celebrates the fun things for a young boy who admires ethnicities. I just wanted to highlight it in a very different way. So you have the girl lying by something just as tasty as she looks, like candy. And the emphasizing of the beat comes from the way we cut from angle to angle versus her shaking her ass. Because I don't know about you guys, but I'm desensitized. How do you do it? Every video the girls get prettier and prettier and prettier."
But as forward-thinking as Twista and company are with his video, when it comes to the Chicago native's forthcoming album, Adrenaline Rush 2007 — due August 7 on Atlantic Records — Twista is looking to the past for direction.
The title is a nod to his debut, the hard-charging Adrenaline Rush, which first introduced the world to Twista's rapid-fire flow, particularly the Legendary Traxter-produced "Overdose."
It's been 10 years since that album dropped, and while collaborations with Kanye West, Diddy and others have raised his profile over the years, Twista said he still makes music for his original fanbase.
"I feel like I found a niche as far as how to do music successfully, commercially and still keep my street vibe and my lyrical credibility," he said. "I feel like that's what I conquered when I did songs like 'Slow Jamz' and 'Overnight Celebrity.'
"But at the same time, too, I realized I still live in Chicago," Twista continued. "And one of the things I can't have is the people where I live feel like I'm only doing music for the masses now and I don't think about them. What drives me is when my homie in my 'hood digs my lyrics. When I go overseas and I can see this person with an accent tell me my sh-- is dope, that makes me feel equally as good. But at the same time, what I'm very passionate about is my people in my 'hood and where I'm from."
So for Rush 2007, Twista recruited Cee-Lo, Jazze Pha, R. Kelly, Lil Wayne and the Speedknot Mobstaz to join the fray. He said he was also in talks to reunite with Traxter for a sequel to "Overdose," but according to Twista, these days it's easier for him and his former mentor to kick it as friends than to do business with one another.
Even though Twista is still finishing up his upcoming project, he already has ideas for a follow-up. The rapper has been serving as a columnist for Chicago's Red Eye newspaper, writing about issues (the Virginia Tech tragedy, President Bush) that he normally wouldn't address in his raps. But during his tenure, he said he's learned to be proactive with his thoughts instead of waiting to be asked to speak on a particular subject, something he didn't do before.
"Sometimes when I do my music, I try to be so dope with the lyrics that I don't touch on a lot of topics like I do with my column," he said. "So if you want to really see what Twista is thinking about stuff, you can check out the column side. But when I get to my next album, I'mma fuse both of them together — my music with the way I write in my column — so you can really hear Twista's perspective on a musical level. I'm trying to take it there."