Having street credibility is always a convenient back story. The overwhelming majority of emcees who "kill" haven't even touched an air rifle. Most of the emcees who "push weight" worked at McDonalds in high school. It's not some big coincidence that every platinum artist is a thug - they really aren't. It's no wonder then, as the genre evolves, that "gangstas" are sounding faker and faker, to the point of coming off more as a joke than an actual threat. Alternatively, those who have a legitimate street history, 50 Cent being shot for example, have went on to have the most success, often off the strength of their reputation alone.
Twisted Black has certainly garnered a little "Street Fame" himself, becoming involved in enough legal drama to be sentenced to thirty years in prison. Provided it's the slightest bit reliable, Wikipedia reports that his next album is due out circa Halloween, 2037. We'll let you know how that works out in a little while. Until then we have "Street Fame," his TVT records debut, and far from a disappointing one at that. And I'm the lucky RapReviewer who gets to critique the poor dude getting hauled off to the big house - again.
At first listen Twisted sounds like a less-irritating Jermaine Dupri, but simply put, he has too much to say to even draw a comparison. The man spits game like a professional. It's not all necessarily believable, but it's certainly far from hokey. He is, after all, the real thing, with roots both in Detroit and Texas, so shit gets more than a little grimy. Some of his stories are quite nice, but often they come off as an attempt to sound a little deeper than he can really get. Still, tracks like "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" are hard to ignore: "cause I'm a fuck-up, and all I really know is the streets, and even though I'm out the south I keep on holdin' this heat."
"Throw it Up" is the type of Top 40 hustler anthem I'd usually despise, but with it's grumbling bass line and Black's confidence, it's no joke. Yo Gotti can't even ruin it, although he puts forth a conscious effort to. The lead single "I'm A Fool Wit It" has that slightly aggravating Scott Storch-esque synthesizer sound, likely to push a few units but certain to give purists the wrong idea. In between such tracks, he often walks a fine line between mindless pimp talk and thoughtful narration, so it should be noted that the album is split into halves: Side 1: club shit. Side 2: street shit.
The beats hold up well, although the unfortunate majority of them are dime-a-dozen club rip-offs. "Broke Street" hardly does justice to the Jackson 5 sample it attempts to flip, but "It's A Jungle" is a gorgeous thumper, complete with horns, strings and all. "Hustler's Prayer," a jazzy number with an ill bass line, is easily the smoothest thing on the album.
Twisted Black lives what he rhymes, so if he sounds anything like any other poser in the game, you really can't blame him. He's every wayward boy's dream come true: a real life gangsta/rapper. He's that dude who spits raps by day and pushes weight by night. Not exactly your greatest role model, but it's a reality nonetheless. It'll be a happy ending if he ever records again, but "Street Fame" definitely isn't a bad way to go out, either way.
Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 3, 2007