I’m often surprised by how long many rappers have been rapping, how young they were when they started, and how long it took a lot of them to become really successful. Seems like there are very few that were out of their teens before they had their first albums in stores and videos on MTV (or YouTube or World Star Hip-Hop or wherever) and in some cases, they’re successful right off the bat. But sometimes, there’s just an initial flare up that dies down as quickly as it popped up. Then come the true trials, where the artist has to decide to bow out with their last shred of dignity and success or keep pushing over and over again, hoping to regain that spotlight with a little more longevity. Some are able to achieve this, some aren’t.
Today I found out that a rapper that I really like a lot is one of those long-term success stories that should really put hope in the heart of anyone trying to make it as anything. I stumbled across this video today of Twista (then called “Tung Twista”) in his first video way back in 1991, when he was only 19 years old. It was in this era that he set the Guinness World Record for fastest rapper, rapping 598 syllables in 55 seconds.
Tung Twista – Mr. Tung Twista
But raw speed ended up not being enough to keep his fame going. Neither of the singles from this first album charted at all, but he kept trying. For a long time. It wasn’t until many years later that he really had some large-scale success with his amazing 2004 album Kamikaze. I imagine a lot of you will be more familiar with this one than that last one.
Twista – Overnight Celebrity (feat. Kanye West)
That same album had the possibly even more popular “Slow Jamz” on it, as well as the song I talked about back in this post, but I chose to feature that one because if there’s somebody who didn’t have overnight success, it’s Twista. His early stuff didn’t chart at all, he had some notable guest appearances and a couple of his songs barely make it into the top 100 in the late 90s, but Kamikaze hit #1 when it came out — 13 years after that video you saw at the beginning hit MTV. That’s a long time to go with no guarantee of grabbing that top spot, but Twista kept at it and got there. You’ve got to admire that determination.