Twisted Black is one of the many unheralded stars of the underground rap game. The man was close, very close, to finally breaking through when he dropped an album on the now defunct TVT Records. In one of the more ironic twists in recent rap music history, trap music dominates the airwaves while one of the most positive dope boy rappers ends up in prison for life. Did it take me by surprise? Definitely. See Twisted Black isn't new to music. He broke through back in 1995 with One Gud Cide, a reality rap group that was signed to Suave House Records at one point. They dropped two critically praised albums. One has since become the rarest rap album out there. I've lived in Twisted Black's hometown for my entire life and never, ever saw a copy on any store shelf. After the group thing fell apart Twisted Black continued with a solo career. Two independent albums put him on the map enough to be signed to TVT. Most Americans will tell me I shouldn't be surprised that a two time felon was charged with a third felony. Especially when all those felonies were drug related. A rap cynic will wonder how such an independent artist can boast features from the likes of The Clipse, Slim Thug, Bun-B, and Scarface on his albums. Coming from a state where damn near an entire town was locked up on false dope charges, I can't help but be a little skeptical. Especially when the man accused of trafficking has dedicated a career to memorializing the dark side of those flossy dope boy tales.
"Late Bloomer" was Twisted Black's first solo album, but the man was a vet the minute he grabbed the mic. One listen to any track off of the first One Gud Cide album will reflect the fact the man was born with skills. Many times compared to another Texas heavyweight, Scarface, Twisted Black's storytelling skills and insistence on not candy-coating the game set him apart from other Texas rappers. "Late Bloomer" is full of cautionary street tales. "Coldest Summer Ever" is one of the dopest story telling tracks out there, dope enough for TVT to include on Twisted Black's nationwide release. Though Twisted Black does drop some vivid stories on "Coldest Summer," he gets even deeper when he speaks to his father on "A Minute With You:"
How you doing up in heaven or hell
As for me? I'm in between, cause see I'm writing from jail
All is well, I don't complain cause I done made my own way
I'm learning to buck my chest and the chips fall what he made
But hey, I made some wrong turns out in the streets
Selling raw, shot in my jaw, almost counting them sheeps
Momma and grandma I've been praying to the lord
And I guess that them prayers saved me cause they was on one accord
My life been full of momma, momma say I got your traits
She never really explained but exclaimed that I got no race
And I know it's hurtful for you when you see me make decisions
Putting paper in my pocket but leading me into collision
My vision has been distorted by weed smoking and the snorting
And the say that every man's footsteps have been ordered
From the higher power, and I believe that's true
But I would do anything to have one minute with you"
Twisted Black takes the self reflection one step further on "New Boot" where he talks about his time in prison, with a twist:
"I hear these cats screaming "New Boot, New Boot!"
I know what that means, a nigga that's green just hit the wing
But I'm in between a hard rock and a hard rock
I don't want my son to fall on a hard knock
I should have covered up the game
Covered up the cane, and maybe I could have covered up the shame
Cause I'm to blame, subliminally
Ccause now my son is in the street's feeling my pain and mimicking me
It's been two weeks since I heard from him so I write him
For him not to respond to my letters is not like him
It's got my nerves on the blink
And I don't know what to think
I'm drinking pretties all day and I ain't sleeping a wink
I'm at my sink when I heard a yell
"New Boot" rang out from one of the cells
Hell, I might as well have some fun
I'm a go down to the day room and check me one
Strips down to my boxers and I lace up tight
In case one of these new boots decides to fight
But when I made it past one row, I saw this crowd
Apparently this new boot must have stood his ground
Then the crowd fell silent, I'm like "What the heck!"
Somebody yelled, J. Flex done broke his neck
When I made it past the crowd my body went numb
Cause the new boot on the ground was my son"
These two tracks are just examples of the dope rhymes and stories to be found throughout "Late Bloomer." On top of those type of tracks, Twisted Black has skills with the party and street anthems. "My Town" is a city to city anthem with Slim Thug where they each rep their hometown. "Damn Fool" finds Twisted trading game with the legendary Bun B. "Clap Ya Hands (For A Hussla)" shows us that gangstas don't dance or boogie in the lone star state, but still appreciate a little applause. Twisted Black even throws us a little East Coast dope boy flavor when The Clipse show up for an uncredited appearance on the remix to "Block Bleeding."
Overall "Late Bloomer" is as solid a Twisted Black album as there is. There's a mix of everything from street tales, cautionary tales, street anthems, and storytelling seminars. Basically, Twisted Black doesn't play on the mic and doesn't sell out for the sake of a radio hit. He keeps it raw, but at the same time is sure to show both sides of the coin. He'll revel in a glorious street anthem with the best of them, but will balance it with bleak reality raps that would make Scarface proud. I easily recognize when my love for local rap shades my view, so trust me when I tell you Twisted Black is and will remain one of the South's best kept secrets. Hopefully the man will find a way to deliver more thought provoking music, but if he doesn't he has already delivered a stellar catalog of albums.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: February 17, 2009