In the closing months of 2003 Kanye West, while introducing himself, reintroduced the hip-hop world to his fellow Chicagoan, a rapid-fire spitter known as Twista. Despite several break-out verses on projects from Do or Die, Puff Daddy and the Ruff Ryders, Twista had achieved limited mainstream success prior to the Kanye-featured-and-produced Slow Jams, and the follow up, Overnight Celebrity. The pair of hits lead to his fourth album Kamikaze to achieve multi-platinum status and secured Twista a place among hip-hops elite. However, since the release of Kamikaze, Twista has seen his stock fall due to the disappointing commercial performance of his Kanye-less follow ups The Day After and Adrenaline Rush 2007. In the midst of an ever-changing music industry now dominated by blogs and alternative hip hop, Twista attempts to reclaim his place at the top of the game with his eighth effort Category F5.
The album opens with the overly dramatic Misunderstood, a generic Twista introduction and a prime example of how Twistas double-time delivery has lost its novelty. What was once a powerful weapon for Twista the rapper has become a crutch for Twista the songwriter. Even when he attempts to slow things down musically on tracks like Talk to Me, a clever concept record about misunderstandings turning violent, one cant help but be distracted by his abrasive flow.
Twista is at his best on F5 when he operates outside of his comfort zone. Examples of this can be found on the Gucci and OJ featured Walking on Ice and the newcomers Good Will and MGI-produced On Top. On the later, Twista weaves in and out of the Alice Deejay-inspired production with a surgeons precision. On Top is what a Twista hit should sound like in 2009.
One interesting aspect of Category F5 is Twistas reunion with The Legendary Traxter, the producer who introduced him to the world in 1996 via Do or Dies Po Pimp. Traxter contributes six beats to the album including the seductive single Wetter. Unfortunately, Traxters other productions on F5 make up the bulk of the sleep induction tracks, including the shorty misses Ya Body and Gotta Get Me One.
It is not easy being Twista. While his delivery is certainly impressive, it does not lend itself to a diverse range of production and while it has been his key to many scene-stealing guest appearances, it becomes repetitive over the course of a full-length album. While there are a few moments of welcomed dabbling in new sounds, Category F5 upholds the sentiment, if youve heard one Twista album; youve heard them all.