I won’t lie. When DJ Z and I were first discussing a review of Twista’s new album The Perfect Storm I was hesitant. Twista has undoubtedly one of the most intriguing stories in hip-hop. Fighting off both a hard Chicago upbringing and those who would label him a gimmick rapper for his lightning fast speed, the man formerly known as Tung Twista exploded into the national spotlight with his 2004 album Kamikaze, a platinum selling project that also netted him a number one record. Since then, he’s created a supremely successful blueprint for his albums, …
DJBooth Album Review
And then I actually listened to The Perfect Storm. Whether he was feeling particularly creative this time around, or he’s been consistently more willing to take risks than I remember, Perfect Storm pushes Twista’s blueprint in some new directions. To be clear, no one’s going to be calling Twista the rap version of Radiohead after any time soon – he does have a song called Cocaine with Yo Gotti (Stevie Wonder could have seen that coming) – but he does display a willingness to not simply play it safe. And for a rapper who has every reason in the world to play it safe, that commands a certain amount of respect.
It’s no longer a matter of if Twista will try to make another Slow Jamz, but how. Attempt number one, Make a Movie, a quasi-R rated jam that brings on recovering superstar Chris Brown for a Kardashian inspired ode to cinematic intercourse. Like much of Twista’s more radio ready work, it’s not particularly impressive, but unless you’re dead set against having a good time you won’t be able to stop your head from nodding. Attempt two, Call the Police, a pounding joint I really want to dislike, mostly because I find Ray J anywhere from annoying to infuriating, but I just can’t. That juxtaposition between the slowly winding beat and Twista’s oil slicked flow just sounds too good. Third attempt, Sweating, a molasses slowly paced cut that would be nice if we didn’t just hear him do it better on Wetter. As enjoyable as they may be, none of these records have true hit potential – but girls that like to strip on YouTube just found themselves a new soundtrack.
At first blush 2012 would seem to belong to the above category, but a deeper lesson reveals one of the more sonically interesting songs Twista’s done in memory. True to its title, 2012 is an apocalyptic jam that somehow manages to make Armageddon sexy, kind of. Over a distorted, decaying beat, singer Tia London almost steals the show, setting the stage with a gripping, nearly two minute performance. For his part, Twista clearly felt unusually free on the mic, flexing a wide ranging, cinematic lyricism that managed to reference Terminator, climate change and the Mayans in the space of a few lines. In the grand scheme it’s certainly nothing avant garde, but for Twista it’s unlike anything I’ve heard from him – and it's dope as hell. Not nearly as out the box but still left of center is the opening record Darkness, which plays out the usual tales of violence and street hustling against a hypnotizing, darkly minimalistic beat. While certainly not groundbreaking, Darkness has a distinctly cinematic feel, as does Hands Up, Lay Down, a hard-hitting robbery anthem that, and I can’t believe I’m about to write this, uses a Waka Flocka verse to perfect Southern banger effect. From expanding his geography to his sonic repertoire, Twista’s obviously still got some new tricks up his sleeve.
Overall that makes The Perfect Storm a not particularly powerful effort. It certainly had its moments, but its highs aren’t that high and its lows aren’t that low, and there’s a thin line between consistency and boredom. Plus, at a mere eleven tracks, the album has a certain unfinished feel. The good news though is that longtime fans will gladly add it to their collections, and it also serves as a welcome sign that Twista’s a long way off from packing it in. Hell, if the man ever feels inspired enough to truly push his limits, he may even have a classic album in him. Consider Perfect Storm more of a hint of what’s to come than a finished product.
Listen to More: Twista Written by Nathan S.
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Talk Hard" (2006)
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