My Obsession is a regular column in which our favorite musicians show off their nonmusical passions.
Twista is a people pleaser. He loves to give that “whoa!” factor when he performs; just look at the speed-rapping skills that once earned him a place in the Guinness World Records, not to mention a gold-certified hit with 2004’s “Overnight Celebrity.” Years before either achievement, the Chicago native found a passion for ventriloquism — and lately he’s rediscovered that spark.
Twista first took an interest in ventriloquism and magic around age 10, inspired in part by watching the 1978 thriller Magic. Soon, he was doing tricks on the side as his career as an extraordinarily fast rapper took off. “If we were on tour and we go into a gas station and they have some little Muppet or puppet in there, I’m grabbing it,” he says. “I’m amazing the homies. I’m doing something for the people in the store. It’s always something I’ve done naturally if I come across a puppet or doll.”
For his birthday a few years ago, a friend bought Twista his first real ventriloquism puppet, named Groucho. He immediately began writing a comedic act for Groucho that he hopes to finish and perform one day. “He’s trying to take my job,” Twista explains. “I think it’ll be fun for people to see the puppet rapping fast without me moving my lips.”
It’s only the latest new beginning in a life full of them. As a teen, Twista made money selling his drawings of popular figures like Freddy Krueger and LL Cool J. Over the years, he’s studied and learned all kinds of magic: card tricks, sleight of hand, coin tricks. He even wrote a song for one of his heroes, David Blaine. (“I’m just bragging about him being the dopest magician,” he says of the unreleased track.)
Even as he gets older, he’s continued to uncover new parts of himself. Over the pandemic, Twista became a firearms instructor and competitive shooter; he trains people on firearm safety, and he has won some competitions. “I’m still growing and still learning things about myself,” he says. “After I take an interest in certain things and get passionate about it, I realize I can be good at it.”
He recently had a second, look-alike puppet made, called Lil Twista, and he’s interested in everything from performing for kids to having his own show in Las Vegas. “I have a lot of passion for making people happy,” he says. “I want you to come out of any situation with me with a positive mindset.”