In my opinion, the Leaders of the New School’s debut album, Future Without A Past, was a hot mess with a few bright spots. So, when LONS returned with their follow-up in 1993, I wasn’t rushing to the store to buy it, even if the lead single was fire (but more on that later). A few years ago I came across a copy of their follow-up, T.I.M.E. (which is an acronym for “The Inner Mind’s Eye”) in the used bins for the right price, so I copped it. I mean, it was only a few bucks, so even if everything else on the album is garbage the lead single would justify the purchase. Plus, they’re an extended member of one of the greatest hip-hop collectives of all time: The Native Tongue, so that has to count for something.
T.I.M.E. was received with mixed reviews (which is code for the critics and fans weren’t feeling it) and would be the final project in LONS’ short lived catalog. And while Charlie Brown, Dinco D and Milo’s hip-hop career would begin to fade, Busta Rhymes was just getting started.
I’ve listened to T.I.M.E. a few times over the past few years, and like their debut, I wasn’t crazy about it, but let’s see if that changes now.
Eternal – T.I.M.E. opens with a simple beat and LONS chanting the group’s name…followed by a different simple beat underneath Busta, as he repeats the album title, both the acronym and the long hand, several times over.
Understanding The Inner Mind’s Eye – For the first official song of the evening, Charlie Brown hooks up an airy and melodic backdrop for he, Busta and Dinco D to help the listener understand the meaning of T.I.M.E. They didn’t really do a great job of explaining it, but you’ll definitely understand and appreciate the instrumental.
Syntax Era – I remember hearing this one quite a bit on the late night hip-hop mix on a local radio station around my way back in the day, and I never cared for it. Today I still don’t care much for Busta, Charlie and Dinco’s bars, but Backspin’s instrumental sounds kind of cool now.
Classic Material – This was the second single released from T.I.M.E. Backspin’s instrumental is dry as The Sahara Desert, and the foursome’s (Milo (I refuse to call him Milo In De Dance) makes his first appearance of the evening) mundane rhymes don’t help matters. Side note: The jazzy Diamond D remix is kind of dope, and gave the song a new life.
Daily Reminder – More mundane rhymes from LONS, but R.P.M’s (from Rumpletilskinz) production work is actually kind of nice on this one.
A Quarter To Cutthroat – More of the same humdrum rhymes from the foursome, but the heavy drums and piano loop on the production end are decent.
Connections – Trash.
What’s Next? – This was the lead single from T.I.M.E. , and pretty much the only reason I was interested in buying the album in the first place. Dinco D sets the tone with his feel good summertime backdrop, and it instantly makes all four of the emcee’s rhymes come to life, especially Busta and Milo’s verses. Yes, I said Milo’s verse.
Droppin’ It-4-1990-Ever – Quick interlude that mashes up pieces of the songs on T.I.M.E.
Time Will Tell – It may be worth noting that Rampage (who would later be known for being part of Busta Rhyme’s Flipmode Squad), along with Backspin, get credit for the production work, and I’m on the fence whether I like it or hate it. But I’m positive that LONS’ rhymes are sub par.
Bass Is Loaded – Bass Is Loaded…bases loaded…get it? Busta Rhymes licks his production chops and knocks this one out the park (HA!) as he and each of his team members take a swing (HA!) at his rough backdrop.
Spontaneous (13 MC’s Deep!) – LONS invites a few of their friends to join them on this cipher joint, which as you can probably tell from the song title, includes a total of 13 emcees: Cool Whip, Brittle, Saltine, Rampage, Blitz, Kallie Weed, and three of the members of Rumpletilskinz (The Capitol L.S., Sha-Now aka Remedy Man and Jeranimo) join Milo, Charlie, Dinco and Busta on a very underwhelming posse cut (where is Q-Tip, Posdnuos, Phife and Trugoy at?). Long Time 3rd Bass contributor, Sam Sever hooks up a cool laid back instrumental, but it doesn’t have enough energy to support a posse joint.
Noisy Meditation – Busta gets his second production credit of the evening and this one is also a winner. If “Bass Is Loaded” was a homerun (prepare for another corny baseball pun coming up next) “Noisy Meditation” is a double. But a hit’s a hit, right?
The End Is Near – This was pretty weak.
Zearocks – Somebody (no one is credited for it in the album’s liner notes) hooks up a fire instrumental for this interlude. I wonder why they didn’t use this one to rhyme over. Maybe they didn’t want to take away from the track’s fierceness.
The Difference – Busta gets production credit for the last official song on T.I.M.E. and I’m convinced that LONS should have just put the production keys in Busta’s hands for the entire album. While his first two instrumentals had a heavy jazz flavor, this one is gutter, and all four of the emcees adapt to and sound pretty decent rhyming over it.
The Final Solution – T.I.M.E. ends with Busta blabbing about T.I.M.E. and how controlling and mastering it is man’s only real purpose in this life (*yawn*). And we’re done.
When I bought T.I.M.E. a few years ago, I listened to it a few times and wasn’t a fan. After revisiting the album this week I have to admit that it’s not as terrible as I originally thought. A few of the instrumentals on T.I.M.E. are actually fire, but there are just not enough flames throughout. The majority of the instrumentals range from decent to mediocre, and unfortunately, the foursome’s rhymes fall in between those parameters as well (yes, including Busta…his energy is there, but he had yet to sharpen his lyrical razor; that wouldn’t happen until he went solo). So, even though T.I.M.E. is not as terrible as I once thought, it’s also not a solid effort, either. Instead of grading it a an “F”, I’d give it a “C+” or a “D+”. Proven the old adage true that time heals all wounds. Sort of.