We’re back with another installation of our latest series, TuneCore Tuesdays, which aims to highlight artists and other music professionals who are writing, recording, and hustling on their own terms. By showcasing creatives doing it their way all over the globe, TuneCore Tuesdays aims to empower and inspire our diverse community of artists.
This week we’re talking to New York-based rapper Rob Twizz. Check out his video below and be sure to learn more about his journey!
Rob Twizz is from the Empire State and he claims it emphatically. “I grew up in Yonkers, New York, and if you know anything about the 914, you know we have a nice lineup of legendary artists to look up to.” Influenced by his upbringing and environment, Twizz came to music at an early age and knew that the territory would be hard-earned. “Coming from where I grew up, you didn’t get a pass to make it in hip-hop. You had to earn your name, and on top of it, you had to really mean what you spoke.”
Twizz began honing in on his musical talents as a teenager, producing beats in his bedroom until he got it right. “I started by teaching myself some audio engineering when I was around 15. I downloaded a program called Sony Acid and fell in love with the sonic side of music. From there, I started building from the ground up in my hometown, rapping at pizzerias and local foundations– pretty much anywhere they let me touch a microphone.” Looking back on the huge learning curve he encountered while teaching himself to produce, Twizz weighs in, “I think engineers don’t get enough credit; they are the true hitmakers.“
Breaking through the static in the rap game was hard work when Twizz got started, but he recalls feeling an advantage during the incipient days of social media. “[Today] there are endless social media platforms, but barely over a decade ago, we were still working in the Myspace era.” Twizz capitalized on his digital presence right away. “I made sure to take advantage of the early age of social media– before the market got so concentrated– and started releasing almost 4-5 songs a week for about a year. Eventually, that blew up my fanbase and opened up opportunities to perform on national television, and then take my career overseas for some time.”
For Twizz, it’s not just about the music itself, but the moments that come with making the music, that makes the journey worthwhile. “Whether it’s from fans who tell me how much certain songs have touched them, or remembering how proud it made my late father to talk about me being a musician with every person he came across,” Twizz reflects warmly. “My a-ha moment came when I released the video for ‘Halloween Cypher 3.0’. It went viral with over 3 million views in just a couple of days, and the best part about it is that I made it in 2 hours with some friends.” Recalling that kismet opportunity, Twizz jokes, “I almost didn’t do it because of the time crunch, but that just shows how unpredictable life, and the industry, is. It reminds me to always move forward if I think I have a good idea.”
Trusting his intuition has proven advantageous at several points in Twizz’s career. “At the beginning of my career, I thought the only way up was to chase a major label, so I didn’t think I had the tools to operate as an independent artist. I didn’t know then that I had everything I needed to succeed at my own disposal. It all started to click when I found Tunecore in 2008.” Now, Twizz handles every aspect of his music, and he prefers the total freedom that comes with it. “Once I found the outlet to compete with any labeled artist– where I could get paid without relying on someone else– that’s when I knew I could take my entire career into my own hands. There is no blueprint to becoming a “successful” artist and it’s important to have a good, consistent team around you, but, like anything else in life, it is best to just get things done yourself. When you produce, write, mix, master, and direct your own material, you leave less room for failure and unmatched expectations.”
After so much time away from being with his audience IRL, Twizz has leaned into his social media presence in order to stay connected with fans. “Of course, networking and promoting my music on socials is a great asset, but, my focus is reaching out to my audience.” Twizz’s objective is always on keeping his fans close, and letting them feel close to him. “I have the choice to express my vulnerability, which could allow someone from across the world to see that we’re all going through similar experiences, we’re all connected, and we’re all human.”
When asked about the future, Twizz is sanguine. “I always like when people speak about music as a journey because there is no other way to describe it,” he contends. “It is a journey with no destination; you keep going and changing the path to wherever makes you happiest… As far as this coming year, I am definitely looking to get back out in front of fans to perform and continue to master my craft. There is nothing like feeling the love and support in person.”