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Styles P - Time Is Money (Interscope)

Long "Time" Coming

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By Ivan Rott

Styles P - Time Is Money

Styles P - Time Is Money © Interscope

Styles P - Time Is Money

In the words of Sam Cooke: “It’s been a long time coming.” Well, it’s 2006 and Time is Money, SP’s sophomore effort, is finally here! After being pushed back for a good two years or so, the Ghost’s album finally gets the chance to see the light of day. One question: was it worth the wait?

Party Like it’s 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. What’s 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 hasn’t 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, SP’s 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 Ghost’s activity over the last two years.

Hardest Out

Nonetheless, that’s not to say the album isn’t up to par for the ’06. One could blame Time is Money’s delay on Interscope execs or even Curtis Jackson (he's had a long-running beef with The LOX), but that doesn’t stall Styles P, who proves he’s the “hardest n***a out” right from the get-go. On the Vinny Idol-produced “G-Joint”, the album’s opening track, SP spits flames over 80’s guitar riffs alongside fellow D-Block-er J-Hood, serving up threats like there’s no tomorrow: “Young Buck…dumb f**k/ ‘2 Gunz Up’, ‘Ryde or Die’ ‘til the sun’s 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 Cent’s reaction to Havoc’s claim that Styles P is “in the top five.” Though it’s got a mixtape-quality beat, it’s hard to overlook “Real S**t”, SP’s 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: “Can’t work for minimum wage, n***a/ To tell the truth, that’s why I lived in a cage n***a.”

Mind of the Ghost

SP clearly shines when he’s articulating deeply and expressing himself; immediately, three profound and insightful cuts come to mind, starting off with the already-famous “I’m Black”. On this Alchemist produced pro-Black declaration, SP raises his fist and affirms: “I’ve got a heart full of bravery/ Do it for my peoples who went through slavery/” Though it’s one of the album’s “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-Tek’s soulful rendition of A Tribe Called Quest’s “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/ It’s 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 don’t 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, that’s jail or a bid.”

Ultimately, Time is Money demands that the listener make a conscious decision on the perception of the album: essentially, it’s your choice to decide whether or not you’re 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)
  • “I’m Black” (featuring Marsha of Floetry) (Produced by Alchemist)
  • “Leave a Message” (Produced by Dame Grease)
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