September 22, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

All Money Is Legal

Current Status
In Season
We gave it a B

Things move fast in pop, but they move even faster in the realm of the female MC. Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown are both deemed on the wane, and Amil, who rode to fame via Jay-Z’s hit ”Can I Get A … ,” is ready to overtake them: ”I’m the only hot bitch you’re gonna hear this year,” she taunts on her debut, All Money Is Legal. The album is steeped in the same low-slung beats and uncluttered vibe as on Jay-Z’s oeuvre, but producers like Rockwilder don’t rely on recognizable samples or cameos. The emphasis is squarely on Amil, whose sultry, sing songy rapping locks into the beats, particularly on the girl-group hip-hop of ”I Got It,” on which Beyoncé of Destiny’s Child croons along.

Amil recounts her days on welfare and shoplifting on the opening ”Smile for Me,” but soon enough we’re swept into lifestyles of the rap and famous, a rarefied world in which Amil tangles with fellow materialist Jay-Z (”Heard It All Before”), steals someone’s boyfriend and then (shocking!) worries about his fidelity (”Girlfriend”), and recalls the shame of falling ”from Gucci sandals back to no-name brands” (”Anyday”). As its title announces, All Money Is Legal is ultimately all about the Benjamins, a tiresome topic. But Amil stands up for herself plenty, and it’s hard not to be amused by a hip-hop album that name-checks Aesop and Blake Carrington. Foxy and Kim should be concerned. B

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