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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Styles P, RBD and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, December 17, 2006

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Styles P,“Time is Money” (Ruff Ryders/Interscope) ***

The wait for this Lox members’ second solo album has been considerably longer than anticipated. The followup to 2002’s gold “A Gangster & a P” was delayed first by an eight-month incarceration for assault, then by a battle with his record company — which, according to some rumors, stemmed from feuds with either (or both) Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine and fellow rapper 50 Cent. The good news is that “Time is Money” rises above the delay and finds Styles (real name David Styles) in sharptongued, swinging form, declaring that “This is my sophomore solo album/I’m gonna take a lot of shots and not from your photo album” — although references to the aforementioned label battles are surprisingly subtle. Instead he fills the refreshingly modest (45 minutes) 12-song set with pithy political perspectives, some libidinous playa posturing and a couple of tracks, including “Burn One Down,” that sound like part of a “Rocky” fi lm soundtrack. On “Testify” Talib Kweli join Styles to review decades of civil rights battles, while “I’m Black” — arguably the defi ning track of Styles’ career so far — achieves liftoff thanks to soaring guest vocals by Floetry’s Marsha Ambrosius. Jagged Edge is on board for the highly musical dis track “Kick it Like That,” while “GJoint” kicks off the album atop a sample from Europe’s ’80s rock anthem “The Final Countdown.” The late Gerald Levert and Akon bring some muscle to their tracks — “Real S***” and “Can You Believe It,” respectively — although Sizzla doesn’t do much to keep “Fire & Pain” fade away under its aggressive anger.

Styles may have lost some time over the past few years, but he returns with is definitely on the “Money.”


RBD, “Rebels” (Virgin) *

RDB is a Latin TV show/pop group package that releases its first (mostly) English language album with high hopes stoked by sales of more than 5 million discs around the world, including 2 million already in the United States. But while the singing sextet has been conquering the rest of the planet, it — and its handlers — forgot to gauge where this market is at the moment. “Rebels” is passe from the first few notes, 11 songs of pop pablum that might have worked at some point during the ’90s but now sound well out of step with the anglo audience. Add in the fact that the singing is, well, not particularly good, and you have “Rebels” without a cause — or effect.

New and noteworthy:

Blak Jak, “Place Your Bets” (Republic) — The Georgia rapper’s debut album features guest contributions by DJ Toomp, T Pain and Don Cannon.

Bow Wow, “Price of Fame” (Columbia) — Part of that price is losing your girlfriend; in this case, Ciara, who the onetime Lil guy sings about on the track “System.”

DJ Clue, “Professional, Part 3” (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) — The TV and radio personality taps Kanye West, Cam’ron, The Game, Young Jeezy, Snoop Dogg, Styles P and others for the third entry in his “Professional” series.

Nas, “Hip Hop is Dead ... The N” (Def Jam) — The New York rapper’s eighth studio album samples Iron Butterfl y’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and includes collaborations with Dr. Dre, Kanye West, the Game, Damien “Jr. Gong” Marley and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, plus peace-making gestures with onetime adversary and now label chief Jay-Z.

The Pac, “Skateboards 2 Scrapers” (Jive) — The Bay Area rap quartet’s debut EP includes the hit “Vans.” Look for a full-length in 2007.

Trick Daddy, “Back By Thug Demand” (Atlantic) — The Miami MC is ready to “Bet That” his seventh CD will be a success thanks to help from Chamillionaire, Baby, Jaheim, 8 Ball and others.

Neil Young, “Living With War/In the Beginning” (Reprise) — A revised take on Young’s most recent album, with a more live-sounding mix and a bonus DVD that includes clips for every track.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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