If the path his career has taken was a road through the windy city of Chicago, one could definitely say it was twisted. One of the first rappers signed to Loud Records back in 1992, he was launched into fame when the 1992 Guinness Book of World Records named him the fastest rapper in the world. Unfortunately his debut on “Runnin’ Off at Da Mouth” (then known as Tung Twista) didn’t even crack 100,000 units, and he promptly asked for his release. He fared better when he signed with Big Beat/Atlantic, as his second album “Adrenaline Rush” in June 1997 scored minor hits with the singles “Emotions” and “Feels So Good.” Twista’s reputation continued to blossom, as appearances on songs like the Jay-Z/Memphis Bleek track “Is That Your Chick?” made him the clean-up man for any hot single or remix. It’s a good thing too, since they kept his name popping in the industry while he released some marginally successful group albums like “Mobstability” and “Legit Ballin'” and kept his fans on hiatus all the way until 2004’s new solo album “Kamikaze.”

Twista has certainly cultivated a cult of loyalty, despite his scant output over the last decade. One can attribute this fact to his charismatic style. While he is still among the most quick-tongued rappers in the music industry, the clarity of his diction makes every syllable easy to her while his humerous wit and charming delivery make the words worth listening to. Twista can be unabashedly frank in his sexuality, even on a crossover lead single like “Slow Jamz”:

“Come wit me and sip on some Evelyn Champagne
You ain’t know Twista could work it like the Whispers?
Hit the stoplight, move into some Isaac
These rims still movin so I bump a lil’ Spinners
While I’m smokin on a bead – dippin through the streets Bumpin R&B – and I got the leaf – on the 23’s
And I do it (“well well, well well..”)
With my Earth in the Wind, smokin Fire
Let me get ya sheets wet listenin to Keith Sweat
Put you in a daze wit Maze
Fulfillin our every temptation, slow jammin, havin deep sex
You ready for the world girl, come and go wit me
I touch you all over your body baby don’t say no to me
And have you be known to controllin me
I love the way you be holdin me when I be listenin to Jodeci
And when I come over and bend ya ass, you be bumpin Teddy Pendergrass
I done hit it from the back, to the melody and rode it slow
Now I got to go up in it fast, but I’mma finish last
No matter how much of a thug you see
I still spit it like it’s R&B, come to the club wit me
And when some Luther come on I hope you feelin me
And still’ll be in love wit me”

It may not come across clearly in print, but generally speaking Twista can spit four of these lines in the amount of time other rappers could barely manage two, with every line coming clearly through. Twista only needs the right beats to go from a sensational rapper to a superstar MC, and Kanye West supplied the music while Jamie Foxx (yes – THAT Jamie Foxx, the comedian/actor) sings the hook. It’s a smash hit, but the whirlwind of Twista’s “Kamikaze” doesn’t stop there. Kanye does it again on the following track “Overnight Celebrity,” while Toxic produces the highly appropriate sequel track “Still Feels So Good” featuring Jazze Pha:

“I spit some game with some intellect to the media
like I’m in Encyclopedia Brittanica
Come and take over the world with me girl
If you good I might can see if I can be your manager
Get your career on track and yo life on point
And I’ll show you how yo taxes go..
Tactics flow quicker than a hat-trick go
Smokin on some fire, galactic dro
I know it’s good when you smoke that fire
Puff that herb, get that dirt, hit that lick
Cop yourself a motherfuckin Bentley car
Cop yourself a motherfuckin Bentley crib
Pop that ass, throw that dick, twork that thing, bust that nut
Drop that top, turn the base up, put you a chameleon paint on the truck
Get iced up, bumpin Twista grooves
as I cruise new shoes rollin smooth up in K-Town
In my city come and feel the ghetto blues
if you snooze you lose don’t pay dues for the tre-pound
Take the time to kick wit yo home girls… and feel yo nugz..
Keep on hatin on the L, big family we gon’ steady come up
And I’ma still smoke good, and it feels so good”

Not to worry though, Jazze Pha also gets his chance to produce on a song that was already an underground hit: “Badunkadunk.” As you might have guessed, it’s a song about big booty:

“Now I don’t wanna see nobody full of rigimortis
Go head and jiggle it for the one with money in his hands
Go head and hit the shades with ya thick ass
Now come over here by the table and give me a lap dance
Bend it over come and get this dust
Gotta playa thinkin that we fin’ to cut
Gots to hit that from the back
Shorty gotta lil junk in her trunk
Look at how she make one butt-cheek freeze
Look at how she make the other cheek move fast
Look at how she switch, make the other cheek move
Then work both sides then clap that ass!”

To this point to date, this is easily the best produced Twista album. Since he consistantly spits entertaining flows and tells good stories, it’s hard for this release NOT to be a winner. From songs like Kanye West’s “One Last Time” to “So Sexy” produced by and featuring R. Kelly; from Wildstyle’s “Higher” featuring Ludacris to numerous tracks by Toxic like “Get Me” and “Kill Us All,” every track fits the mood and theme like a glove. Combined with lyrics like Twista’s inspirational song “Hope” featuring Cee-Lo, it’s a clear knockout:

“I wish the way I was livin’ could stop
Servin’ rocks, knowin’ the cops is hot when I’m on the block
And I – wish my brother would’ve made bail
So I won’t have to travel six hours to see him in jail
And I – wish that my grandmother wasn’t sick
Or that we would just come up on some stacks and hit a lick (I wish)
And I – wish my homies wouldn’t have to suffer
When the streets get the upper hand understand we lose a brother
And I – wish I could go deep in the zone
And lift the spirits of the world with words within this song (I wish)
And I – wish I could teach us all to fly
Take away the pain out your hands and help you hold ’em high
And I – wish God had never gave the men power
To be able to hurt the people inside the Twin Towers (I wish)
And I – wish God would’ve turned they hearts righteous
When they started to take innocent lives and become snipers
But uh – we will never break though they devastate
We shall motivate, and we gotta pray, all we got is faith”

Twista has been paying dues in the music industry for ten years running, but now seems poised to finally get the respect of a large national audience that should righly have gone with his critical acclaim all along. “Kamikaze” is the answer to those who said that Twista was a phenomenal guest rapper, but couldn’t carry the weight of an entire album. Now it’s his turn to shine, while other big names from T.I. to Too $hort play the guest roles on HIS album. It’s clear to see why so many record labels fought over the last seven years to retain his services (everybody from Bad Boy to Roc-A-Fella was rumored at some point) but it’s with Atlantic he stays, and with this excellent album it’s clear that decision will pay dividends from now until far into the future.

Twista :: Kamikaze
8.5Overall Score