twista.jpgLiving up to his old Guinness Book of World Records title of the fastest rapper in the world, Twista has been delivering rapid-fire bars since his 1991 indie disc Runnin’ Off at Da Mouth. But it was his major-label debut, 1997’s Adrenaline Rush, that catapulted the Chi-Town MC into the national spotlight. Unfortunately, his career has been plagued by numerous false starts. After a pair of projects with the Speedknot Mobstaz—1998’s Mobstability and 1999’s Legit Ballin’—Twista got tied up in a tug-of-war with Atlantic and Roc-A-Fella Records that delayed his Kamikaze LP ’til 2004. Containing Kanye West’s smash hit “Slow Jamz,” the album earned Twista his first platinum plaque. In his eagerness to keep the mainstream love going, the Windy City wordsmith oversaturated his next project, The Day After, with R&B duets and pop production. Although the disc went gold, its saccharine sound rubbed die-hard fans the wrong way. So as a show of good faith, Twista dubs his latest effort Adrenaline Rush 2007.

While the new album borrows its name from Twista’s classic, these are still two separate projects a decade apart. With longtime collaborator Toxic and newcomer Cuzo handling a bulk of the production duties, AR2K7 holds true to the overall feel of its predecessor. Toxic’s choppy, ice cream truck–inspired score for “7 Day Hustle” and cinematic board work on “The Come Up” evoke the Tung Twista of old, as he fires off lyrical rounds with Megatron-like efficiency. Meanwhile, Cuzo’s bell-heavy trunk rattler “Whip Game Proper,” featuring Lil Wayne, inspires bombastic bars like, “Vocalistic cataclysms, I spit the biggest words/Fuck you and your bitch-ass crew, I spit the sickest verbs.”

The verbal onslaught continues on the oppressive “Trouble,” and again with the trombone- and bass-fueled “Wrist Stay Rocky,” produced by Basement Beats. While few MCs can keep up with Twista’s speedy spit game, it’s actually a rappa ternt sanga that winds up going flow for flow with the Chicago veteran. Mimicking the cyclic guitar lick of “Creep Fast,” T-Pain chucks his robotic vocals out the window and not only keeps pace with his host, but almost outshines him. Feeling the pressure, Twista turns up the heat with, “I’ma see ya when I see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya/Got the Desert Eagle/And I’m rollin’ through in the Regal/Lookin’ at you from the eye of a needle.”

Unfortunately, Twista veers off course and begins to test the mainstream waters once again. Enlisting the once-guaranteed hit makers the Neptunes for “Give It Up” results in Pharrell’s rigidly stale hook being the foundation for a contrived club cut. Trying to recapture the crossover magic of Kamikaze’s “Overnight Celebrity,” Twista pens misplaced serenades like the R. Kelly collabo “Love Rehab,” which stands out amid the album’s harder material. Then, of course, there’s the inclusion of “Trappers Delight,” a throwaway cut from Cee-Lo and Jazze Pha’s unreleased collaborative project, Happy Hour.

Finding the perfect balance between commercial and creative content is difficult for any artist—even an OG like Twista. While Adrenaline Rush 2007 is a definite return to the raw, the aforementioned tracks, coupled with a bloated track listing, subtract from his fully recapturing the past glory of the original. Still, with potent material like the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony collabo “Ain’t No Hoes” and the high-octane “Pimp Like Me” loaded in the chamber, the Midwestern rhyme slinger proves that, even after more than a decade in the game, he still got that fire. —BRANDON EDWARDS