Hurricanes and tornadoes are exactly like albums, at least in terms of how they’re ranked. A “one” is nothing, a lazy breeze you barely notice and forget about a moment later. A “two” is only slightly stronger, just enough to mess up your hair a bit. By the time we get to “three” things are getting serious, only the stupid or naïve could ignore it. A “four” is the real deal, an undeniable force that brings out the news crews. And a “five”? A five is an act of god, an event that affects anyone …
DJBooth Album Review
All that begs the question; just how accurate is the title of Twista’s latest tour de force Category F5, a title that takes its name from the scale used to grade hurricanes and tornadoes (aka twisters…aka Twistas)? Long story short, Category F5 doesn’t come close to living up the devastatingly lofty ambitions of its title, but that doesn’t matter. At this point Twista is in the Shaq phase of his career: he only has two moves - the spitfire gangsta banger and the ladies jam - but when he decides to bring it, there’s still no one that can stop him. So while Category F5 won’t go down as one of the silver-tongued Chicago rapper’s best albums, it’s the kind of solid performance that separates the players from the All-Stars.
Twist spent the first part of his career blowing holes in people’s eardrums with rhymes so fast and hard machine guns were jealous. Then he dropped Slow Jamz, skyrocketed up the charts, made a crapload of money and realized, hmmm...maybe there’s something to this whole ladies jam thing. Fast forward seven years and you’ve got Wetter, a track that proves Twista’s tongue can get women wet in more ways than one (that was a G-rated joke compared to Twista’s rhymes). It’s the contrast between the slowly pulsing beat and Twista’s rapid-fire delivery that makes Wetter sound so good, and although the chick on the hook sounds like she’s saying “dirty” instead of “daddy” it’s got serious hit potential. Still, Wetter isn’t nearly the best jam on the album. That honor belongs to Yellow Light, a track that brilliantly reunites Twista with R. Kelly, followed closely by On Top, an Akon-assisted cut that overcomes some annoying euro-house production to transform into a stripper anthem. The masses have spoken. They want ladies jams from Twista, and he has delivered. What, are you not amused!?
As good, and lucrative, as Twista’s ladies jams are, on Category F5 they come off sounding a little assembly-lined. Actually, the same can be said for his get money tracks, like the boringly predictable Billionaire, featuring a mediocre guest verse from Busta, or the swaggering Walking On Ice, a track whose hypnotizing beat can’t cover for its clichéd theme. No, Twista is at his best when he’s at his realest and hardest. Luckily, Category F5 has a few moments when Twista gets back to his street-level roots, most notably on the album’s opener Misunderstood, a cut featuring Twista flexing the amazingly precise vocal cords that put him on the map. And while at first Talk to Me sounds like another radio single, it’s sped-up soul vocal sample even sounds Kanye-esque (it was actually produced by Traxster). Talk to Me turns out to be the album’s most personal and lyrical track, a rare glimpse into Twista the man, not just the rhyme spitting machine. After all, there’s more to life than just booty…wait, did I just write that?
Unfortunately, moments like Talk to Me are relatively rare on Category F5. Ultimately, Twista sounds like he’s on cruise control for a solid portion of the album, delivering exactly what the audience expects and nothing else. (And occasionally delivering what no one wants. I’m looking at you Birthday). Still, Twista on cruise control is better than most rappers at full speed, and it’s hard to fault the man for delivering a package he knows his fans will eat up. So while Category F5 won’t level the musical landscape, it is a powerful storm far too dangerous to ignore.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 07/14/09
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