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Twista dazzles but content fizzles

Kenyatta Storin | Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Once you have heard Chicago rapper Twista, it is impossible to forget him. He is a ridiculously fast rapper – so fast that he could probably give the motor-mouthed MicroMachines guy a run for his money. It’s been close to five years since his last album, but Twista has finally returned with his third installment, Kamikaze. And like previous Twista joints, the album has plenty of that trademark speed. But as much as Kamikaze will hit you as hard as five Kamikaze shots, the lack of depth will sober you up fast. When you first hear Kamikaze, you will likely be amazed by Twista’s non-stop, rapid-fire delivery, but when you start to listen carefully to what Twista is actually saying, you come to realize that he really is not saying much of anything at all. As a result, most of the tracks have a tendency to blend together after a while. Virtually all of the tracks deal with the over-used rap themes of thugs, women, sex and drugs, and Twista says nothing in his flows that has not already been said before at a slower pace. But this is not to say that the album does not have its moments. Undoubtedly, the best track is the sexy lead single “Slow Jamz,” with the help of acclaimed producer Kanye West, who even sings a little on the track. West produces a sweet, mellow beat with some creatively used Luther Vandross samples, which contrast well with Twista’s rapid flow and Jamie Foxx’s additional vocals. The drug anthem “Higher,” featuring Ludacris, and the slow jam “So Sexy,” featuring R. Kelly, are decent listens, as well. Twista also gives a breath of fresh air toward the end of the album by switching up his content a bit with the reflective “Hope,” a tribute to deceased artists Aaliyah, Left-Eye and Jam Master Jay, and the victims of September 11. The positive, feel-good “Sunshine,” featuring Anthony Hamilton, also offers a bright spot on the album.Aside from the content, the other problem with Kamikaze is that the production is rather hit or miss, and except for maybe “Slow Jamz,” there is nothing particularly exceptional. Twista’s right-hand man, Toxic, produced nearly half of the album, and with the exception of “Get Me,” the results are regrettably your average run-of-the-mill stuff. Even Kanye West, best known for his contributions on Jay-Z’s hits “Takeover” and “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” produces pretty tame beats on “Overnight Celebrity” and “One Last Time.” Twista may very well be the fastest rapper in the business, perhaps even ever, but he still does not have what it takes to carry an album by himself. It is rare to find a rapper so astounding yet so restricted at the same time. He contrasts well with other rappers in guest appearances, but alone he becomes exposed as somewhat of a one-trick pony. Twista could have benefited from better production, especially from Toxic, but ultimately the flaws of the album are on him. Overall, Kamikaze is like your average action movie: flashy and exciting the first time, but ultimately shallow and forgettable in the long run.

Contact Kenyatta Storin at kstorin@nd.edu