While a decade is a minor blip in the grand scheme of history, it can be an
eternity in the fickle world of Hip Hop. Emcees achieve overnight celebrity
status one year, only to watch it blow away in the wind the next. The last
decade has taken Chicago’s Twista on a rollercoaster ride
through the industry. In 1997 he released the critically acclaimed Adrenaline
Rush. Without a major marketing effort or radio friendly single, the album
went gold. Collaborations with everyone from Do or Die to Diddy
further solidified the Speed Knot Mobsta in the
hearts of underground rap fans.
Issues with his production company and record label prevented Twista
from capitalizing off the underground success of his major label debut. As a
result, he was confined to collaborations and underground albums, via his
independent label, Legit Ballin. It would be seven years
before he returned with Kamikaze. The album reintroduced Twista
to the rap world, propelled him to the forefront of the industry and spawned a
number of hits, including the Kanye West-assisted “Slow Jamz” and
2005’s The Day After saw Twista experiment with
new styles, occasionally departing from the dark beats and signature rapid fire
flow he became synonymous for. The science project was a commercial
disappointment, alienating some core fans in an attempt to reach a wider
audience. After learning from past mistakes, the Chi City emcee returns with Adrenaline
Rush 2007, a welcome trip back to the future.
The album finds Twista rhyming
like a hungry emcee instead of the platinum plus star he’s become. With Toxic
commanding most of the production time, Twista seems
comfortable over the soundtrack of dark, gritty beats and club bangers. On “I Ain’t That Nigga,”
a track that serves as a warning to any foes who think he’s gone soft, he spits
“I ain’t gon be frontin and fakin and acting petty all in my music/Unh uh,
that’s too lame/ When it’s on it’s on, I’ll pop a nigga when you wrong you
gone/You finna be wiped off the earth like a memory… what’s dude name?” The
verbal assault continues with “Charged,” the Speed Knot Mobstaz-assisted “No Pistols,”
and one of the album’s stand-out cuts, “Creep Fast,” featuring a rapping T-Pain
going bar for bar with the Chicago rhymesayer.
Versatility, without a doubt, is the album’s strength. With many mainstream
rappers forcefully following the “make songs for everyone” formula, the Twista
transitions from ruthless killer to club mode to ladies man with relative ease.
Mr. Trapped in the Closet, R. Kelly, supplies
the beat and hook for “Love Rehab.” Although Kels
dominates the track, Twista shines with the same finesse
exhibited on “Get
It Wet” from the first Adrenaline Rush.
Adrenaline Rush is arguably a classic album, but its successor will
not be able to lay claim to the famous “C” word. The Pharrell-driven
lead single, “Give
it Up” is a shameful attempt at crossover radio that finds Twista out of his element rhyming over
the up tempo Neptunes beat. The
album’s four skits, “Wrist Stay Rocky” and the Lil Wayne-featured
Proper” detract from the album’s otherwise cohesiveness.
Fortunately, Twista rebounds towards the end of the disc
with the juke-inspired “Pimp Like Me” and “Ain’t No Hoe,” featuring former rivals,
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Easily one of the albums strongest cuts,
the mid west invaders effortlessly flip flop between rapid fire and melodic
flow over the slow, Cuzo-produced track. With a solid sixth
release, Twista proves that fame, fortune and more than a
decade in the game isn’t enough to keep the well fed from spitting like there’s
a nationwide famine.
Top 40 rappers, take note!