PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Twista: Category F5

Twista can slice and dice words like a razor-sharp Ginsu knife. But F5 finds him getting twisted by the torque of his own tornado.


Category F5

Label: GMG
US Release Date: 2009-07-14
UK Release Date: 2009-07-14

It’s nothing short of amazing to listen to Chicago rapper Carl Mitchell (aka Twista) spit rhymes. He’s one of the few rappers whose stage name actually personifies how his rhymes sound and make you feel. But his rhymes can twist you both ways. They can spin and fling you up to higher ground, or they can hurl you down into the cesspool of cliché in the blink of an eye. He can slice and dice words like a razor-sharp Ginsu knife. And he can deliver syllables so fast they leave your head spinning with pleasure, wonder, and sheer amazement -- like watching Olympic sprinter Flo Jo fly past you.

On his eighth studio album, Category F5, Twista brings the furious flow like he always has. And he does so by beginning the album with a street-slang-meets-the-weather channel intro. He describes a “category F5” and ends the explanation with the chuckle-inducing punch line “some fucked up shit”. It’s dramatic but sounds more silly than serious. I thought I was in for a new kind of hip-hop-meteorological education. But like a tornado jumps around unpredictably, Twista darts back and forth from track to track, sometimes hitting his target but other times spinning right by the substance, only to get caught up in the torque of his own demise.

In 1992, Twista won the prestigious title of the World’s Fastest Emcee, clocking in 11.2 syllables per second, showing that the sheer speed at which he rhymes is the essence of what he does best. Like Snoop Dogg’s engaging flow, even when he’s not really saying anything with his rhymes, Twista's Tommy Gun flow is enough to arouse pleasure in your ears. But, unfortunately, the song cycle of Category F5 isn’t as pleasant. It feels more like the destructive progression of a tornado ripping through a neighborhood, leaving some houses demolished and others standing strong. It leaves you wondering how this Twista missed the pretty houses that do remain standing on F5. Jimi Hendrix meets Frank Lucas on “American Gangsta” as a pseudo-cover of Hendrix’s Woodstock “Star Spangled Banner” intros the track. But Twista’s impressive fast flow falls victim to a cheesy message of gangster posturing that tells us nothing we haven’t heard before about being a gangster.

It’s always easy to wax poetic about the herb. But on “Fire” the spiritual significance of smoking weed produces only a momentary high, and the auto-tuned vocals on the hook don’t make the buzz last any longer.

For some reason traffic lights seem to be a inviting metaphor for sex. John Legend uses it on "Green Light". And on “Yellow Light”, with a tinny, auto-tuned chorus featuring R. Kelly, Twista embraces his mate in a game of speed check as he tests out all the gears he can do when “knocking boots” and getting his groove on with the ladies, speed-rapping, or chopped and screwed. It’s by far one of Twista’s, and F5’s, most hilarious tracks (which I think is unintentional), but nonetheless it’s something only Twista could pull off, because he has tremendous control of his tongue speed. And like an exotic car, he can shift gears and turn on dime to please his mate at all the right intersections and sensual straightaways.

Category F5 sounds like a neighborhood after a tornado. Some tracks are left intact and standing strong, while others are desecrated and destroyed by the very Twister that’s trying to build them up. What sweetness there is on F5 is squeezed out by shallow blinging and ridiculous booty-riding rhyming.

But I love “Talk to Me”, which makes excellent use of Amanda Perez’s “Run with It”. Around that sample, Twista goes deep and rhymes lyrics of love, pain, and heartache into a gem. Aside from that, most of Category F5 jumps back and forth between pseudo soul and misogyny masquerading as genuine romance and passion. The sensual soul beats and erotic sonics -- conjured by Twista and a host of other rappers and producers -- might sound like gold bumping from a car stereo as you’re cruising down the boulevard, or they might be perfect jams to grind to with a dance partner in a club. But the misogyny outweighs the righteousness, leaving your soul wanting more. With a flow like Twista’s, it’s easy to get tricked into expecting more. I was tricked. I left the neighborhood feeling like an F5 hit me. And I left wanting more.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.