It took six years after his first album for Chicago rapper Twista finally to find mainstream recognition with his 1997 Adrenaline Rush. Not since Bone Thugs-N-Harmony had there been a rapper whose flow came at such breakneck speed and who spit for the streets of the Midwest. Now, curiously, with several more studio albums under his belt, Twista goes back to that first success with the aptly titled Adrenaline Rush 2007.
As a rap veteran with at least 17 years in the game, Twista knows what sells. Unfortunately, so does everyone else in the industry, banking on time-tested conventions of mainstream rap. His flow is straight street: drug deals, guns, chromed-out cars and jewelry. He has a hard track with Lil Wayne (“Whip Game Proper”), a catchy cut with T-Pain (“Creep Fast”) and some ingenious production from Southern producers (Cuzo, Toxic, Jazze Pha). But there are a few unexpected gestures as well.
As with every Twista album, there’s a hood symphony of horror-movie strings, gunshots and ground-shaking bass with the MC spitting high-speed lyrics that pierce the melodies like bullets. The best example of is “No Pistols,” on which Twista raps, “But you be procrastinatin’ / I think you fuck around with pistols cuz they fascinatin’.” The fast-paced Bhangra-style strings behind the click-clack of a loaded gun let you know he means business.
As a Chicago MC, Twista also plays into two main types of music that Chi-town feeds off: booty club music and captivating step songs. “Pimp Like Me” exhibits Midwest-style club bangers to the fullest. The slow and heavy drums that begin the song change into quick snare taps and bass pops that get everybody juking. And since the only thing people love more than seeing R. Kelly on the news is hearing him on a silky R&B track, they can experience “Love Rehab.” The Twista and Kellz collaboration is reminiscent of past love songs done with the likes of Mariah Carey and Trey Songz, but the feeling of Chicago step records (for which Kelly is notorious) lends the track a decisive kick.
An even better collaborative club track is the Jazze Pha-produced “Say Say.” With a bevy of Dirty South lyricists, including Big Zak and Cee-Lo Green, the song is perfect for the club with a melodious sound that will bring women to the dance floor in a way only the South can.
Still, we’re left with the same conventions, and talented artist contributions and masterful production will only get you so far. There isn’t much originality in Twista’s style or lyrics. It’s the same old “I got guns,” “I got coke” verses on every album but delivered at a speed that could break the sound barrier. In 10 years, there doesn’t seem to be much individual progress, and Twista just hasn’t changed much.
Simply put, Twista works well within the norms of the genre. It’s a good album for bump riding down the street with the bass up and the windows down, and the blend of so many different styles is a solid feat, but too many screwed up hooks and repetitive lyrics can’t change that it’s the same old Twista.