February 12, 2004

Test Spin: Twista

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By now, everyone has heard — if not gotten down to — Twista’s “Slow Jamz,” the Kayne West-engineered bedroom bend gorging the Billboard charts. Besides the production, the track owes much to the Chicagoland emcee’s unlikely pairing and chemistry with the comedian-cum-actor-cum-singer Jamie Foxx. Once again, the song showcases his popularized signature rapid-fire rhymes, which earned him, in 1992, the title of “the world’s fastest rapper” in the Guiness Book of World Records. Inking a deal this past year with Atlantic and Roc-A-Fella, Twista’s first solo project in seven years, Kamikaze, represents a more commercially concerned enterprise and finds Twista in some awkward territory. Hoping to appeal to a broader audience, Twista’s gritty gangster raps trade time on this sixteen track set with Westcoasters Eightball and Too Short on “Pimp On,” Southcoaster Ludacris on “Higher,” and Eastcoasters Freeway, Memphis Bleek and Young Chris on the posse cut “Art and Life.” These collaborations fall flat, except for “Higher,” where a Twista finally in character outshines his counterpart. The rest of the album sees more of the same, this time with crooners R. Kelly, Anthony Hamilton, Danny Boy, Cee-Lo and Jazze Pha as Twista tries to slow it down and show his versatility — not a good idea for a rapper who made his name on speed. Twista is most spirited over the right production. The aforementioned Roc-A-Fella producer Kanye West, another Chi-towner of the Jay-Z-blessed “Encore” and “Lucifer” fame, handles a few tracks on the album, among them the standout “Overnight Celebrity” that promises something more from these two in the future.

Archived article by Jason Rotstein