Street Fame

Artist: Twisted BlackTitle: Street FameRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Dallas' rap prospects looked pretty good at the end of 2006. Big Tuck signed a multi-million dollar deal with Universal while underground veteran Twisted Black caught the attention of TVT Records. Shortly thereafter, Black caught a bad one, and it appears as though Street Fame (TVT) might be his parting shot for a while. With more personality than many of his peers, Twisted Black has songs for the club, the car, and the headphones that are more Geto Boys than Rich Boy.

"Secrets" is an eerie diary entry that doesn't glamorize Twisted's drug-selling past, but rather considers the conscience involved, on a similar plane to Jay's "I Must Love You." The second verse is overt about a cocaine addiction, looked at as a weakness. In this context, "It's A Jungle" comes as a surprise. A detailed observation of the ghetto over a charged kick and snare loop, the delivery feels like something on a traditionally underground record with the toned back descriptions and charismatic delivery. To round out the versatility, "Throw it Up" is a high-hat heavy club track that would slide nicely between a Rick Ross record and classic David Banner. Just as his music sways, so do Twisted Black's moods and abilities.

Produced mostly by Twisted Black's in-house producers,

Street Fame

doesn't reach for established sounds or names to carry the weight. Almost like a strong demo, each song is tailor-made to fit the mood of the content. While there's not necessarily a cohesiveness from one track to the next, that consistency is upheld by Black's delivery and presence. Save for two or three Crunk-inspired tracks, the music on this album knows no exact geography. This is merely the sound of any hood, USA.

Street Fame

lacks polish, but packs plenty heart. This album is reminiscent of the early Willie D and Scarface solo albums in the sense that Twisted Black takes chances that aren't always safe, he says things that could not only incriminate him, but that could make him the butt of a few jokes. That honesty is lost in Hip-Hop today. As rapper after rapper promises to bridge listeners over troubled waters, Twisted Black is one guy who proves it. His mistakes have cost him, but amidst whatever he is rhyming about, he gives the accuracy to make you believe, and the comic relief to ease the journey.