It’s common knowledge that Twista’s name refers to his lightning-quick sleight of tongue. The onetime holder of the Guinness World Record for fastest rapper even went by Tung Twista early in his career. Yet, on Category F5, his seventh LP, the Chi-Town vet proposes an alternate explanation for his moniker, likening himself to the most dangerous grade of tornado.
The powerful “Misunderstood” lends the force-of-nature analogy some credence, as Twista, along with Buk of unsung Chicago OGs Psychodrama, riffs on his struggles (“I’m kinda like Kurt Cobain/An expert on pain”) over a foreboding beat from frequent collaborator The Legendary Traxster. But conditions quickly deteriorate with “American Gangsta,” a cookie-cutter street track that’s just as tired as its clichéd title suggests, and “Fire,” an ode to burning trees that gets its only spark from a late verse by Lil Boosie.
Returning to more-personal terrain reinvigorates the Po Pimp on the solidarity-minded “Talk to Me” and “Wanna See ’Em Buss,” a by-any-means-necessary ode that finds him weaving between a slower delivery and his trademark double-time flow. Unfortunately, these inspired moments are the exception, and not the rule, on the pop-filled Category F5. More often, Twista is content to merely go through the motions with a rotating cast of R&B collaborators, like R. Kelly (“Yellow Light”), Akon (the titty-bar-targeting “On Top”) and the late Static Major (“Gotta Get Me One”).
“Walkin on Ice,” a slick, Zaytoven-produced hookup with the blizzard-minded Gucci Mane and OJ Da Juiceman, and “Birthday,” a club cut with an uncanny resemblance to Swizz Beatz’s “Money in the Bank,” provide some temporary respite from the tedium. But while Twista’s flow remains as fluid as ever, Category F5 doesn’t play out as forecasted. —JESSE SERWER