Kyle Ellison has an extensive knowledge of rap songs that feature violins. 

It’s hard to ignore the underlying tragedy of a rapper whose best music was made in the ’90s releasing a project called Back to Basics. Generally, the explicit avowal of a return to form is a sign of creative bankruptcy.

The artist has spent a few years lurking around the new generation like a try-hard uncle at a family wedding, but now it’s getting late, the liquor has been flowing and he’s using the DJ’s ‘oldies’ segment to remind the kids how he used to get down. Unfortunately, uncle’s shirt size has gone up since the glory days, and the 15-year-old anecdotes, like his hair, are wearing thin.

Thankfully, Twista’s Back to Basics doesn’t suffer from this nostalgic affliction.

Unlike the Eminem of Marshall Mathers LP 2, Twista isn’t making joyless songs about taking it “back to straight hip hop.” Instead, he’s channeling the energy that made him great to begin with. The use of his Guinness World Record-winning double-time doesn’t mean he’s guilty of the same self-indulgent cry for relevancy Em makes on “Rap God” –  rapping fast comes naturally for Twista and he sounds good doing it.

Case in point, EP standout “Ferocious” is everything MMLP2 isn’t . For starters, it’s fun. Twista is celebrating his past, not trying to relive it. The violins of “Overnight Celebrity” have been dusted off, yet Legendary Traxster’s beat isn’t overly reverent or atavistic.  And with or without the strings, it’s exactly the kind of simplistic scale Twista thrives on. He might repeat Higgs Boson references, and his electron/Decepticon rhymes aren’t Gza-level science, but Twista’s “Adrenaline Rush” era enthusiasm is infectious. As long as the excitement to rap his ass off remains, there’s hope for a second Resurrection.

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