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All Money Is Legal

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All Money Is Legal
An image of a woman sitting in front of a bag of money while a lion is in the background.
Studio album by Amil
ReleasedSeptember 19, 2000 (2000-09-19)
Recorded1999-2000
StudioThe Cutting Room, The Hit Factory, Quad Studios (New York City; Playground Studios (Los Angeles
GenreHip hop
Length51:52
Label
Producer
Amil chronology
All Money Is Legal
(2000)
Amil Az Iz
(2008)
Singles from All Money Is Legal
  1. "I Got That"
    Released: July 5, 2000
  2. "4 da Fam"
    Released: September 13, 2000

All Money Is Legal, also known as A.M.I.L.: (All Money Is Legal), is the debut studio album by American rapper Amil. It was released on August 29, 2000, through Roc-A-Fella, Columbia, and Sony Music. Rapper Jay-Z and music executive Damon Dash served as its executive producers with Amil. Record producer Just Blaze also contributed to the record, and later said that his work on the album improved his reputation within Roc-A-Fella.

A hip hop album, All Money Is Legal focuses on wealth and Amil's personal life. It was recorded between 1999 and 2000 at Playground Studios in Los Angeles and at The Cutting Room, The Hit Factory, and Quad Studios in New York City. Though Jay-Z had written Amil's verses for their past collaborations, she developed her own lyrics for all of the album's tracks. While the album primarily consists of Amil rapping, she sings on some tracks.

Reviews of the album were mixed; critics were divided over its production and Amil's verses. Commercially, it peaked at number 45 on the US Billboard 200 chart. Two singles — "I Got That" with vocals from Beyoncé and "4 da Fam" with verses from Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, and Jay-Z — were released from the album and promoted with accompanying music videos. "I Got That" reached number one on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Billboard chart, while "4 da Fam" made appearances on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and the R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs Billboard charts. Amil's musical hiatus following the album's release led to Roc-A-Fella dropping the rapper.

Background and recording[edit]

Amil first performed in New York City talent shows at the age of 12, after she had practiced rapping over hip hop groups, such as Run-DMC.[1] In 2007, she joined the girl group Major Coins, alongside Liz Leite and Monique, and was not initially interested in a solo career.[1][2] When Jay-Z asked a Major Coins member to do vocals for his third studio album Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life (1998), Amil accompanied her to the recording studio. At this time, Jay-Z requested that Amil freestyle on his 1998 single "Can I Get A...".[1]

After Major Coins disbanded, Amil was signed by Roc-A-Fella in 1998 as a solo artist at Jay-Z's suggestion.[1][3] According a 2015 Fact article, "a lot of unsavory rumors" had surrounded this decision.[4] Prior to recording All Money Is Legal, Amil featured on albums by Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, and Funkmaster Flex, and collaborated with Jay-Z on the 1999 single "Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)".[1] Kris Ex of Vibe referred to Amil as one of Jay-Z's protégés.[5] When discussing her working relationship with Jay-Z, Amil said: "[He] just put this career in my hands. I went from having nothing at all to wearing diamonds."[3]

All Money Is Legal was recorded between 1999 and 2000 at The Cutting Room, The Hit Factory, and Quad Studios in New York City, and Playground Studios in Los Angeles. Amil was an executive producer for the album along with Jay-Z and music executive Damon Dash.[6] Record producer Just Blaze also contributed to All Money Is Legal,[7] and felt that his work on the album raised his profile within Roc-A-Fella.[8] While Jay-Z had written Amil's verses for their past collaborations, she developed her own lyrics for all the tracks on the album.[3][6][9] During the recording of the album, Jay-Z praised Amil's songwriting.[3]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

All Money Is Legal is a hip hop album that consists of 13 tracks.[10][11] David Browne, writing for Entertainment Weekly, described the compositions as "low slung beats and [an] uncluttered vibe" similar to Jay-Z's music.[11] According to Vibe's Andréa Duncan, the songs balance Amil's "onstage gold digger persona" with her more "down to earth personality" in daily life.[3] For "Girlfriend", she worries about infidelity after taking another woman's boyfriend, and then raps about her shame for going "from Gucci sandals back to no-name brands" on "Anyday".[11]

While Amil acknowledges that the album includes songs about showing off one's personal wealth,[3] it also includes tracks that focus on more serious issues.[3][10] For instance, the lyrics in "I Got That" encourage women to become more independent.[10] Inspired by Amil's life, the opening track "Smile 4 Me" includes lyrics such as: "Got my people up north trying to slice the bid / While I'm in love with a nigga with a wife and a kid."[10][12] The song also addresses Amil's past experiences with welfare and shoplifting.[11] In the "bass-intense" track "Quarrels",[10] Amil raps that Satan is the "root of all the ballin' and hustlin'".[3] It includes additional vocals by R&B singer Thomas.[13] While she primarily raps on the album, Amil sings on some tracks,[10][13] such as "Get Down".[13] Browne referred to Amil's delivery as "sultry, sing songy rapping".[11]

The album includes three features from Jay-Z.[9] Browne wrote that Amil "tangles with her fellow materialist" for Jay-Z's verse on "Heard It All".[11] Along with Jay-Z, the album's final track "4 da Fam" includes Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel.[13] For his part, Jay-Z raps about becoming a father in the verse: "I got four nephews and they're all writing ... and I'm having a child, which is more frightening."[14] He also contributed to the track "That's Right" after responding positively to Just Blaze's production during a recording season.[8]

Release and promotion[edit]

Also known as A.M.I.L.: (All Money Is Legal),[3] All Money Is Legal was released as a cassette, CD, and digital download through Roc-A-Fella, Columbia, and Sony Music.[15][16][17] Amil was removed from Roc-A-Fella after the album's release.[18] Media outlets attributed the decision to her disagreements with Jay-Z and her weight gain,[4][19][20] but she denied these reports during a 2011 interview with Vibe.[20][21] Amil explained that she took a hiatus as she had not felt mentally prepared for a music career.[2][21]

Singles[edit]

"I Got That", featuring vocals by Beyoncé, was released on July 5, 2000, as the album's lead single.[10][13][19] Commentators compared its sound and lyrics to music released by Destiny's Child;[22][23] one critic believed it continued a focus on "statement[s] of simple financial and romantic independence".[23] An accompanying music video was released to promote the song,[22] and was featured on the list of the most-played clips on BET for the weeks of August 1 and August 8, 2000.[24][25] The video was also played on The Box during the same two weeks.[24][25] "I Got That" received positive reviews,[10][22][23] though writer from Vibe criticized the collaboration, including "I Got That" on its list of Matches Made in Error.[26] The song reached number one on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Billboard chart on September 16, 2000, and remained on the chart for 12 weeks.[27]

"4 da Fam", the album's second single, was released on September 13, 2000;[28][29] an accompanying music video promoted the track.[30] In the same year, "4 da Fam" and "I Got That" were put out as as a double A-side.[31] Jay-Z's verse received praise from critics,[32][33] though Amil's contributions received a more negative response.[4][34] "4 da Fam" appeared on several Billboard charts.[35][36][37] "That's Right" and "Get Down" were released as promotional singles in 2000; both songs were made available on a 12-inch single and vinyl record.[38][39]

Reception[edit]

All Money Is Legal received mixed reviews from critics upon its release. Andréa Duncan praised it as surprisingly diverse and thoughtful collection of tracks".[3] MacKenzie Wilson of AllMusic commended its focus on Amil's personal life, particularly how it delves back into her New York childhood street smarts to deliver a decent first introduction". Wilson responded to positively to Amil's image, writing that she "maintains her sultry sassiness" throughout the music.[16] Despite being critical of Amil's vocals, Son Raw wrote that the album contained "a couple of jams", and highlighted "4 da Fam" as a "prime Roc La Familia-era posse cut".[4] Other commentators had more negative opinions of the album.[11][12] David Browne commended Amil's verses, but was critical of the album's production and the lyrics' focus on money.[11] The Washington City Paper's Ta-Nehisi Coates viewed All Money Is Legal as "a schizophrenic work", saying that it kept "swinging from aching honesty to gangsta-bitch schtick"; he criticized Amil for "reducing herself to a prostitute with a microphone" through her lyrics, and felt the album's production was cheap and generic.[12]

Critics labelled the album tracks "Quarrels" and "Smile 4 Me" as highlights of All Money Is Legal.[10][12][40] A Billboard writer described "Quarrels" as engaging and thought-provoking,[10] and a Vibe contributor cited it as an example of "strong-willed, pro-woman songs" written and recorded by female rappers.[40] Billboard also called "Smile 4 Me" a "testament to the MC's lyricism",[10] and Coates identified it as part of the rapper's success in pulling inspiration from her past to create "melancholy confessionals".[12] Amil said that "Smile 4 Me" was one of her favorite tracks from the album, and found the tracks about her personal life to be the most appealing.[2]

All Money is Legal sold 29,000 copies in the first week of its release,[41] debuting and peaking at number 45 on the US Billboard 200 chart.[27] It reached its peak position at number 12 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Billboard chart on October 7, 2000, and remained on the chart for eight weeks.[42] The album also peaked at number 45 on the Top Album Sales Billboard chart, and stayed on the chart for six weeks.[43]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of All Money Is Legal.[9]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Smile 4 Me"
EZ Elpee4:26
2."I Got That" (featuring Beyoncé)
3:17
3."Get Down"
Jon-John4:29
4."Ya'll Dead Wrong"
Rockwilder3:51
5."Heard It All" (featuring Jay-Z)
  • Whitehead
  • Carter
  • Di Lazzaro
  • Sean Lashley
  • Harper
  • Cherubine
  • Chavon Henry
3:27
6."Quarrels" (featuring Carl Thomas)
  • Whitehead
  • Jay Garfield
  • Porter
  • EZ Elpee
  • Garfield
4:10
7."Girlfriend"
  • Whitehead
  • Stinson
Rockwilder3:14
8."All Money Is Legal (A.M.I.L.)"
Fyffe3:46
9."That's Right" (featuring Jay-Z)
  • Whitehead
  • Carter
  • Justin Smith
  • Lionel Evans
Just Blaze4:21
10."Anyday"
  • Whitehead
  • Joseph Walsh
  • Patrick Culie
  • Malik Johnson
K-Rob4:08
11."Raw"
  • Whitehead
  • Michael Sandlofer
Lofey4:11
12."No 1 Can Compare"
Omen4:15
13."4 da Fam" (featuring Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel)
Fyffe4:19
Total length:51:52

Sample credits

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of All Money Is Legal and AllMusic:[6][9]

Management
  • Roc-A-Fella Records
  • Columbia Records
  • Sony Music
Recording locations
  • The Cutting Room (New York City)
  • The Hit Factory (New York City)
  • Playground Studios (Los Angeles)
  • Quad Studios (New York City)
Credits
  • Amil – associate executive producer, primary artist, vocals
  • Beyoncé – featured artist, primary artist
  • Shawn Carter – executive producer
  • Kevin Crouse – mixing
  • Damon Dash – executive producer
  • Tyrone Fyfee – producer
  • Chris Gehringer – mastering
  • Jason Goldstein – mixing
  • Erwin Gorostiza – art direction
  • Jay-Z – guest artist, primary artist
  • Manny Marroquin – mixing
  • Memphis Bleek – guest artist, performer, primary artist
  • Monica Morrow – stylist
  • Jon-John Robinson – engineer, producer
  • Beanie Sigel – guest artist, primary artist
  • Brian Stanley – engineer, mixing
  • Carl Thomas – guest artist, primary artist, vocals
  • Richard Travali – mixing
  • Reggie Wells – make-up
  • Carlisle Young – engineer

Charts[edit]

Chart (2000) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[27] 45
US Top Album Sales (Billboard)[43] 45
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[42] 12

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Ref.
United States May 8, 2000 (2000-29-08)
  • Cassette
  • CD
  • digital download
  • Roc-A-Fella
  • Columbia
  • Sony Music
[15][16][17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Potts, Diana. "Biography: Amil". AllMusic. Archived from the original on August 24, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Ramirez, Erika (March 31, 2014). "Ladies First: 31 Female Rappers Who Changed Hip-Hop". Billboard. Archived from the original on June 14, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Duncan, Andréa (December 2000). "One in A Million". Vibe. 8 (10): 139.
  4. ^ a b c d Raw, Son (June 10, 2015). "The Rise and Fall of Roc-A-Fella Records". Fact. Archived from the original on April 4, 2018.
  5. ^ Ex, Kris (December 2000). "Jayhova's Witness". Vibe. 8 (10): 129–130, 132–136. Archived from the original on April 3, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "Credits: All Money Is Legal". AllMusic. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016.
  7. ^ Hay, Kameron (August 3, 2017). "5 Crazy Roc-A-Fella Revelations From ItstheReal's Live Podcast". Complex. Archived from the original on August 4, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Blanco, Alvin Aqua (August 21, 2013). "Just Blaze Credits Amil With Making Him A Go-To Roc-A-Fella Producer [Video]". Hip-Hop Wired. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
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  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Reviews & Previews". Billboard. 112 (39): 35–36. September 23, 2000. Archived from the original on December 11, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Browne, David (September 18, 2000). "All Money Is Legal". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 11, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d e Coates, Ta-Nehisi (November 10, 2000). "All Money Is Legal". Washington City Paper. Archived from the original on December 11, 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Elon (May 25, 2000). "Amil Taps Jay-Z, Beyoncé, More for "Money"". MTV. Archived from the original on December 11, 2017.
  14. ^ Markman, Rob (January 9, 2012). "Jay-Z Takes on Fatherhood: From 'Glory' to 'Can't Be Life'". MTV. Archived from the original on December 15, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Kenon, Marci (August 19, 2000). "You've Come A Long Way, Baby". Billboard. 112 (34): 36, 46. Archived from the original on December 11, 2017.
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  17. ^ a b "Releases: All Music Is Legal". AllMusic. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016.
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  19. ^ a b Preezy (September 15, 2017). "10 Classic Beyonce Collaborations That Wouldn't Happen in 2017". The Boombox. Archived from the original on October 1, 2017.
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  21. ^ a b "Amil – "Remember"". Uproxx. March 17, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  22. ^ a b c Iandoli, Kathy (April 23, 2014). "Beyoncé's most overlooked features". Dazed. Archived from the original on March 30, 2015.
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  24. ^ a b "Video Monitor". Billboard. 112 (34): 96. August 19, 2000. Archived from the original on November 8, 2014.
  25. ^ a b "Video Monitor". Billboard. 112 (35): 93. August 26, 2000. Archived from the original on June 28, 2014.
  26. ^ "Matches Made in Error". Vibe. 8 (10): 59. December 2000. Archived from the original on June 28, 2014.
  27. ^ a b c "Search results". Billboard.
  28. ^ Cowie, Del F. (August 23, 2009). "Jay-Z: Beyond Reasonable Doubt". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on March 29, 2016.
  29. ^ "4 Da Fam (Explicit Album Version) [Explicit]". Amazon. September 13, 2000. Archived from the original on March 14, 2017.
  30. ^ Hay, Carla (July 29, 2000). "MTV, Refac Team to Create Consumer Electronics Line". Billboard. 112 (31): 97. Archived from the original on December 11, 2017.
  31. ^ "I got that : 4 da fam". WorldCat. Archived from the original on December 16, 2017.
  32. ^ Barber, Andrew; Shipley, Al (March 20, 2018). "The 100 Best Jay-Z Songs". Complex. Archived from the original on April 3, 2018.
  33. ^ Kennedy, John (September 5, 2017). "All 274 Jay-Z Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best". Vulture.com. Archived from the original on February 25, 2018.
  34. ^ "Rappers Be Lyin: 10 Greatest Rap Lies". Bossip. December 12, 2012. Archived from the original on February 19, 2015.
  35. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (4 da Fam)". Billboard. Archived from the original on December 15, 2017.
  36. ^ "R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs (4 da Fam)". Billboard. Archived from the original on December 15, 2017.
  37. ^ "Hot Rap Songs (4 da Fam)". Billboard. Archived from the original on December 15, 2017.
  38. ^ "That's Right" / "Get Down" (inlay cover). Amil. Roc-A-Fella Records, Columbia Records, and Sony Music. 2000.
  39. ^ "That's right ; Get down". WorldCat. Archived from the original on December 16, 2017.
  40. ^ a b "Moments to Remember". Vibe. 9 (11): 37. January 2001. Archived from the original on December 12, 2017.
  41. ^ Lavin, Will (June 24, 2016). "Does Jay Z have a problem marketing female artists? Former Roc Nation singer Bridget Kelly weighs in". International Business Times. Archived from the original on August 27, 2016.
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  43. ^ a b "Top Album Sales (A.M.I.L.)". Billboard. Archived from the original on December 15, 2017.

External links[edit]