Twista

Category F5

posted July 14, 2009 08:41:38 AM CDT | 39 comments

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Twista's [click to read] career has been defined by triumphs and second chances. Few artists in Rap, short of LL Cool J, have bounced back as many times as the Chicago pioneer, and for every two lame duck albums Carl Mitchell gives fans, he strikes back with the kind of force that made 1997's Adrenaline Rush or 2004's Kamikaze [click to read] seem as creative or as motivated as his entrance to the national consciousness over 17 years ago.

Category F5 is Twista's major label return, having found shelter at Koch between a reportedly hurtful departure from Atlantic after a decade tenure that yielded some platinum and gold plaques. Now at EMI, Twista also returns to working with The Legendary Traxter, the longtime production partner responsible for Twista's most acclaimed music. With his budget and buddy back in tow, Category F5 seems to prove that Twista's fast rap abilities have never antiquated, and if anything, the rumored addition to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony [click to read] has his third career comeback well underway, without losing his core.

"Wetter" [click to listen], like UGK's "Da Game Been Good To Me" [click to view] is a rare example of the label seeing value in consistency. Produced by Traxter, the female-friendly song allows Twista to rap rapidly with supreme clarity over a slow jam, supported by the soothing vocals of Erika Shevon. "Ya Body" is more of the same, featuring fellow Chicago stalwarts Do Or Die [click to read] and Johnny P, as Twista's lyricism shines a bit more, albeit weighed down by an extended-metaphor comparing car rear-ends to those on women. "American Gangsta" removes the females from the equation, as Twista's smile fades to a screw-face as he chronicles the Midwest depression, with a song (and video) rather similar to the themes at play in Young Jeezy's "Put On."

A nod to his last comeback, Twista seems most aware of crossover appeal. Category F5 cheapens its intention in a few places. Although Twista pioneered a lot of the substance and deliveries coming out of '00s southern rappers, "Walking On Ice" with Gucci Mane [click to read] and OJ Da Juiceman feels like Twista is dropping the kids off at Rap summer camp. This and "Billionaire" with Busta Rhymes [click to read], find Twista trading his integrity for Ron Browz imitations and duffle-bag rap that cannot pass the suspension of disbelief. "Hustla," a 35 year-old's obligatory crack-selling song holds up better than the divisive ploys to sound youthful. After all, who raps with more energy than Twista? As for the Pop touches, "On Top" with Akon [click to read] is one of the places that Twista can go beyond and still stay comfortable in his skin. The song has hit potential, with its strong sample and energetic sequencing.

Key accomplishments of Category F5 include Twista's sonic return to his roots. With longtime associate Toxic in tow as well as Traxster, this emcee is true to both his Chicago roots and his evolution. Then again, Twista makes the same mistake he has for the last five years, with his pandering for Pop, with unnatural collaborations and a few painfully awkward canvases ("Birthday" and "Billionaire"). Kanye West on the "Alright" [click to listen] (iTunes bonus song) bonus beat makes Twista's cipher complete, as Category F5 maintains the Speedknot Mobsta's core, with various audio souvenirs to mark his evolution along the way, with some new ground and freshness sealed in too.

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