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12 February, 2007@12:00 am

    Styles P’s long-awaited Times Is Money has finally surfaced — seriously. Nearly two years in the making, the oh-so-aptly titled album has somehow survived countless delays, label politics and even a brief stint in prison from its host. Now, four years since the release of his gold-selling debut, A Gangster & A Gentleman, does Paniro still garner an audience?

      There’s no doubt Styles caters to the street.  Here, though, the man known as The Ghost reveals a much-more eclectic persona — to both positive and negative results. The album’s opener, “G-Joint,” is a traditional D-Block concoction.  Flanked by an 1980s metal sample — Asia’s “Only Time Will Tell” — and a verse from J-Hood, the tracks sets a solid tone for the rest of the LP. Looking for thug commentary? Both “Fire and Pain” and “Real Shit” (featuring the late Gerald Levert) are more-than-adequate offerings.  “How We Live” is a lively excerpt produced by Havoc.  It’s uncharacteristically light, draped by a beautiful flute melody, but packs quite a punch (“I don’t need to dream, I live another life / When I sleep, it’s so deep, I’m a spare you the visual”).
“Burn One Down” is equally exhilarating, with Styles expounding, “None of ya’ll is big / Not to be funny but none of ya’ll is B.I.G.”

      The album’s finest moment comes in “I’m Black,” an Alchemist-produced “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” for the modern generation.  Although the song has circulated for more than a year, it’s still a remarkable and refreshing proclamation of African-American culture. Still, “I’m Black,” like many tracks on Time Is Money, is previous released material.  This alone brings a dated, almost expired, feel to the album at times. The beg-for-airplay single “Can You Believe It” has made the rounds for some time, albeit unsuccessfully. Not even a Bobby Brown-inspired hook can erase Lil Jon’s drowning production and an subpar performance from Akon.  Much of the same can be said for the pseudo-Swizz sound of “Who Want a Problem.” There’s nothing here we haven’t heard before.

    And therein lies the problem with Time Is Money. Though a solid offering, it’s far from groundbreaking; inspiring in spots, but mainly on the strength of tracks released almost two years ago.
For now, it will suffice. Here’s to hoping Styles, and Styles alone, will determine how long we will have to wait before his next release.

  Mixtape D.L.
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