Jun 9, 2008 - 10:00 PM
With soaring gas prices and rising food costs you could say the latest release from Time Machine, Life is Expensive, is just stating the obvious. Luckily the LA threesome of emcees Biscuit, Jet Set Jay, and Producer/DJ Mekalek put together an album that is more creative than its title lets on.
Life is Expensive opens with the mellow “In the City of Everything.” It’s a casual, matter of fact account of a typical LA day from buying tamales out of someone’s trunk to the hovering of helicopters. The tempo of the disc quickly picks up with the sassy second track “(If you know what) I Mean” and continues the poppy, drum machine happy vibe with “The Groove that Just Won’t Stop.” The song could easily become a party and club staple next to classics like Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart.” That’s not surprising considering the group has already proved its party prowess with their popular remix of MIA’s “Boyz.”
Producer Stereok’s instrumental contribution “Mountains” breaks up the celebration with smooth 80s era inspired synthesizers and provides the perfect transition into the pessimistic title track “Life is Expensive.” Biscuit and Jet Set Jay lay ominous lyrics about diseases and natural disasters over an equally menacing but toe-tapping beat that together propel the listener towards the apocalypse.
Life is Expensive is both intelligent and entertaining and demonstrates a level of creativity that has rarely resurfaced in hip-hop since A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. With their tongue & cheek humor and finely honed beat making skills, Time Machine prove that underground hip-hop can have pop appeal without sacrificing substance.
Kimberly Turner is Oh Dang! Magazine's resident music critic and pastry fiend. And No she's not fat.