Since Death Row fell from grace, its West Coast gangsta bud smoker's beat and spirit continue to influence countless rappers and crews, but that George Clinton, G-funkiness has gone all but missing. Ready to remedy the situation, Money Respect Money sounds like P-Funk's mothership crashed in Inglewood on a particularly thuggish day. There's plenty of the party-worthy singalong choruses, the kind Death Row used to borrow from Detroit's finest, but coupled with rigid and hard beats that bring to mind the Dirtiest South. If that sounds great, add the maturity of the ten-plus years the Relativez have spent in the rap game and their still hungry ambition. Big Wy and Suga Buga go all the way back to the Murder Was the Case soundtrack, when the two cousins were members of Young Soldierz. The Relativez landed a track on Death Row during their golden age and they're still not a household name east of California, but that hasn't exhausted the duo a bit. With so much energy behind it, Money Respect Money could be passed off as a debut. It might as well be for many hip-hop fans, but when they special order the group's back catalog, they're going to miss Money Respect Money's incredibly polished and busy production. Wy and Buga's streetwise and aggressive raps sit on layered, creative, and rock-solid tracks. Lyrically, they're straight-up thugs, more than willing to tell it like it is and with that reflective-about-dead-homies/misogynist-to-the-ladies stance that so many ballers feel comfortable with. They subscribe to the "Lean Back," stand-offish lifestyle, but with one stuck-in-your-head chorus after another, they're as approachable as Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Biggie, and every other volatile soul who ever went platinum. If it all sounds humorless, Money Respect Money is tempered with just enough skits and interludes, ones that fit. "Ride Wit Me," "Sometimes We Sell Dope," and "What Would U Do?" are obvious highlights, but there's nothing to skip and at just over an hour the album is still tight. It's taken them a decade to get there, but the Relativez are on top of their game with Money Respect Money. Every G-funker should pay their respects.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
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