In the words of Sam Cooke: Its been a long time coming. Well, its 2006 and Time is Money, SPs sophomore effort, is finally here! After being pushed back for a good two years or so, the Ghosts album finally gets the chance to see the light of day. One question: was it worth the wait?
Party Like its 200 4?
Time is Money clocks in at a mere 45 minutes, with a total of 12 tracks. While this format has proven to be a smart approach in many instances (think Illmatic), Time is Money undoubtedly proves otherwise. Whats so frustrating about the album is that nearly half the cuts are relatively ancient, tracks most people are already tired of by now; anyone who follows the mixtape circuit, or better yet, anyone who hasnt been living under a rock for two years has heard many of these tracks. From Fire & Pain, his dreary, reggae-themed collaboration with Sizzla, to the semi-anthemic Who Want a Problem alongside fellow Lox members, SPs album lacks a sense of excitement and exhilaration. Simply put, what could have been a bombshell of an album in 04 or 05, turns out to be a modest summation of the Ghosts activity over the last two years.
Nonetheless, thats not to say the album isnt up to par for the 06. One could blame Time is Moneys delay on Interscope execs or even Curtis Jackson (he's had a long-running beef with The LOX), but that doesnt stall Styles P, who proves hes the hardest n***a out right from the get-go. On the Vinny Idol-produced G-Joint, the albums opening track, SP spits flames over 80s guitar riffs alongside fellow D-Block-er J-Hood, serving up threats like theres no tomorrow: Young Buck dumb f**k/ 2 Gunz Up, Ryde or Die til the suns up/ now who could that be aimed at?
G-Joint is immediately followed by How We Live, a Havoc-produced floater of a track which relies on edgy synths and vibrant flutes. It would be funny to imagine 50 Cents reaction to Havocs claim that Styles P is in the top five. Though its got a mixtape-quality beat, its hard to overlook Real S**t, SPs collaboration with the late Gerald Levert. Over a surprisingly minimalistic Scott Storch-produced cut, the Ghost reflects on coming up, describing the harsh realities and difficulties that entail: Cant work for minimum wage, n***a/ To tell the truth, thats why I lived in a cage n***a.
Mind of the Ghost
SP clearly shines when hes articulating deeply and expressing himself; immediately, three profound and insightful cuts come to mind, starting off with the already-famous Im Black. On this Alchemist produced pro-Black declaration, SP raises his fist and affirms: Ive got a heart full of bravery/ Do it for my peoples who went through slavery/ Though its one of the albums older tracks, its message is still intact and lively.
Then comes Testify, a true gem which finds Styles in a cypher with Talib Kweli, over Hi-Teks soulful rendition of A Tribe Called Quests Luck of Lucien; Styles flows comfortably alongside his backpacker counterpart while still maintaining his ground: Damn right I make gangsta music/ but I still spit poetry like Langston Hughes did. No argument there.
The Bottom Line
SP appropriately wraps the album up with tidbits of wisdom and guidance on Leave a Message, an open letter to the people closest to him: A message to my son/ Its times in my life when I stood around to fight when it was better off to run. On the next verse, SP reaches out even further and straight to the ears of the listener: A message to the poor/ Stressin in life/ What we dont get now we get in the second life/ A message to the kids/ Stick to your school, cuz if you f**k with the streets, thats jail or a bid.
Ultimately, Time is Money demands that the listener make a conscious decision on the perception of the album: essentially, its your choice to decide whether or not youre going to look at the album, er, glass, half-empty, or half-full. If you were searching for a plethora of new Styles P tracks, look elsewhere (keep in mind that the Ghost drops mixtapes with 20+ tracks on the regular). If you were craving for a substantial and cohesive album that offers street brolic and street knowledge, look no further: Time is Money was worth the wait.Top Tracks
- Testify (featuring Talib Kweli) (Produced by Hi-Tek)
- "Who Want a Problem (featuring Swizz Beats and the Lox) (Produced by Neo da Matrix)
- Im Black (featuring Marsha of Floetry) (Produced by Alchemist)
- Leave a Message (Produced by Dame Grease)