Review Summary: An inconsistent yet excellent hip hop album that shines in the main areas: beats and lyrics.
D-Block is a hip hop group that has been riding the hype train for quite a while. Their first release as The LOX was incredibly successful on Diddy’s Bad Boy Records, and sold 1,000,000 copies. After that release, they then got into a feud with the famed label because the group wanted to leave and go with the Ruff Ryders, the label that represents DMX’s fam. After a two good years of fighting and feuding, We Are The Streets
is released to somewhat lackluster success compared to their last album, and only sells half of what the other album sold. This then brought on a long hiatus, and the band members would work on their solo work. This brings us to Styles P, who was at first glance considered the weakest one. Surprisingly enough, in 2002 he had a huge hit on his hands with “Good Times”, while his first album would go gold. But then he had label troubles, they were constantly fighting and bickering over when his second album would be released, and it kept getting pushed back. Finally, Styles jumped off the hype train and released the album in December of 2006 to mild critical acclaim, but rather low sales. Time Is Money
is that album, and while it does live up to the expectations, that doesn’t come without its fair share of miscalls.
Still this album is much better than I expected, it’s much lusher and far better produced than anything of D-Block’s discography leading up to here. The production is mostly sample-led, like most hip hop, but the samples are much more cleanly done than most hip hop done. “How We Live” works well with violin samples, providing a rich backdrop for Styles P to spit over. All of the first three songs in particular, are works of production art in the hip hop world. “G Joint” borrows a sample from Planet Asia for the instrumental hook, which is just some higher pitched guitar riffing, but producer Huu Banga manages to make it work with the beat, which contains gloomy higher pitched synth work; fitting Styles P’s mixtape-like dissing of the G-Unit. “Testify” is possibly the best of the three, using 80s samples and a bouncy bass groove to create the closest thing to mid 90s NY hip hop on the album. Most songs past these three don’t live up to high expectations production-wise that those tracks had set, but the other works are still good. “Want A Problem (Remix)” is a mechanical violence anthem, while “Favorite Drug” takes use of the keyboard to create a ‘high’ atmosphere.
But this reminds of the albums only true fault: the diversity. While diversity is good sometimes, this album just expands on it too much and tries to please everyone. There are dark, depressing talks of life in the hood (“Real Shi
t”), dance anthems (“Can You Believe It”), weed anthems (“Favorite Drug”, “How We Live”), anthems of violence (“G-Joint”, “Who Want a Problem”), and many more. Still, even so, Styles P delivers it so well, his lyrics are excellent. He is constantly witty, bringing more of a common man aspect to the street life, while still keeping it completely real. There isn’t nearly as much irony as there is on a lot of hip hop albums, but still it’s sometimes ironic, especially in the fact that “Kick It Like That” could be on the same album as “Can You Believe It”, two completely differently executed club songs. “Kick It Like That” is much more aimed towards the ladies than the club, while “Can You Believe It” is more aimed towards the clubs, and just makes the listener want to dance.
Time I testify, listen
Why Malcolm get killed by the N.O.I.?
I'm yellow but I'm dark for real
And why nobody flip when Martin was killed?
Why Mandela did all them years
All that blood, all that sweat, and all them tears?
And I can name thousands more
that died in the struggle from Mr. Wallace to Mr. Shakur
While Time Is Money
is a thoroughly inconsistent record, it is still an excellent album, shining potential from who was originally thought to be the weakest of D-Block. He has improved a hell of a lot since then, and now competes with head honcho Jadakiss for the top spot in the group. This album is just that good, and to get a good whiff of what you were missing, I recommend you check it out now. Hip hop fan or not, this album is incredibly enjoyable, and despite some inconsistency, it succeeds as a whole. Still, if you are the farthest from a hip hop fan, I recommend you at least check out some of the recommended tracks, for they might be helpful in deciding whether or not you ever like even semi-mainstream hip hop.
“How We Live”
“Want a Problem (Remix)”