Superproducer duo Internet Money’s debut album, B4 The Storm, combines slick production and a whos-who of US cloud rap but doesn’t do much to push the game forward.
While the album is impressive in its scope, running to 17 tracks long and featuring 23(!) different vocalists, there isn’t much in the way of innovation. Many of the songs sound almost identical and sadly, many of the rappers talk about the same things, with the same flows, in the same autotuned style.
However, given Taz Taylor and Nick Mira’s internet-based production-line style of producing type-beats, expecting an album laden with originality might have been a stretch too far. That’s not to say that the album is bad. Instead, it feels like a collection of potential singles (with the exception of the minute-and-a-half-long intro) that are ready to be shipped out to the baying public.
The album’s first song, “Message” featuring TyFontaine, kicks proceedings off with a bang. The beat has the feeling of old Rick Ross and Meek Mill with big, powerful synths and a pounding bassline. Sadly, this vibe doesn’t carry through to the rest of the album. Up next is “Really Redd” featuring Trippie Redd, Lil Keed, and Young Nudy. The pounding 808s continue but the synths disappear to be replaced with more subdued keys. The hook is infectious and you’ll be involuntarily head-bopping along.
“Lost Me” featuring Lil Mosey, Iann Dior, and Lil Skies comes next. The beat features some fantastically distorted steel drums and an excellent verse from Iann Dior. “Right Now” featuring Cochise and TyFontaine has a brilliantly spacey and trippy beat. Cochise grabs the beat with both hands, with an exceptional and infectious flow. “Familiar” featuring TheHxliday is the best song of the album to this point, featuring a single vocalist, the song feels more coherent in its themes and lyrics.
“JLO” featuring Lil Tecca brings the synths from “Message” back but in a more subdued way. Lil Tecca takes advantage of being the only person on the song – his flow is good and the lyrics are strong. “Thrusting” featuring Swae Lee and Future is undoubtedly a single-in-waiting. The beat stands out from the rest of the album with a syncopated dancehall style. Swae Lee doesn’t rock the boat with his verse and hook but Future’s verse sees him abandon the triplet flow that made Migos so big and turn the autotune up to eleven – it’s an impressive song.
At the halfway point of the album, we get “Speak” featuring The Kid Laroi. The trippy rising-and-falling synths sound great and, again, Laroi benefits from being the only rapper on the track. His raps, while not exactly groundbreaking in content, are delivered with aplomb. “Blastoff” featuring the late Juice WRLD and Trippie Redd is a song of contrasts. Both rapper’s lyrics are dark, “Beautiful things grow old and start rotting/ I should have turned away when I found out you were demonic,” raps Juice WRLD, but the beat, with floating guitars and (relatively) subdued bass, creates a brilliant juxtaposition.
“Take it Slow” featuring 24Kgoldn and Ty Fontaine is the longest song on the album at just under four minutes – which makes it something of an epic, considering most of the other tracks sit well below three minutes. The production takes an interesting turn, the synths and overly-processed steel drums from earlier songs are replaced with ethereal vocals. 24Kgoldn cements his places as a rising star in the scene with a brilliantly delivered hook.
Following “Take it Slow” is “Somebody” featuring A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Lil Tecca. The hook is catchy and the beat, which features some unusual xylophones, has a far more chilled-out vibe compared to the rest of the album. “Giddy Up” featuring Wiz Khalifa and 24Kgoldn follows quickly and has the feel of a big single in the making. The guitar-driven beat stands out on the album, as does Wiz’s skippy flow. “Block” featuring Trippie Redd and StaySolidRocky changes the feel again. The beat is relatively relaxed, Trippie Redd’s delivery is aggressive while StaySolidRocky is more relaxed. Altogether, the song doesn’t feel like a cohesive whole. “Devastated” featuring Lil Spirit again changes the vibe. It has an almost RnB feel and smooth lyrical delivery – it has a definite 2000s feel but feels strange coming after “Block.” Fortunately, “Let You Down” featuring TyFontaine and TheHxliday comes next with slow guitars and heart-wrenching vocals.
The album’s penultimate song, “No Options” featuring Kevin Gates is powerful, with Gates discussing his run-ins with the law and the effect on his family. While this isn’t uncharted territory for the New Orleans rapper it feels particularly pertinent with the ongoing Black Lives Matter struggle and racially prejudiced policing in much of the US.
Finally, the album rounds out with “Lemonade” featuring Gunna, Don Toliver, and NAV. The first single from the album, Lemonade features pumping 808 drums and the three rappers discussing prescription meds in detail. It’s a decent head-bopper but, again, nothing remarkable as a song.
And that, perhaps, is B4 The Storm’s biggest problem. It’s more of a mixtape than an album, there are good songs, but there’s no cohesive feel to the record and there’s certainly nothing from either the production or the lyrical side of the album that feels new. But when Internet Money became popular making beats that sound like other people’s beats, what more can you expect?