May 26, 2021

Brand Nubian - Time's Runnin' Out (2007)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: TEG-2442

© 2007 Sound of Dissent Records
Time's Runnin' Out is a Brand Nubian album released approximately ten years late. There's no mention of this fact anywhere in or on the album's packaging -- just publishing and copyright credits for 2007 -- but if you listen closely to the second verse of "Brand Nu Hustle," Lord Jamar raps, "In '98 you'll still find me at the weed gate/Nigga, we straight, even though we drop late." Late indeed. The 15 songs comprising Time's Runnin' Out reportedly were recorded prior to Foundation (1998), the group's much-heralded reunion album. (Besides the 1998 reference in "Brand Nu Hustle," there's a reference to 1997 in the title track and "Go Hard.") Like Foundation, Time's Runnin' Out features the entire Brand Nubian lineup (Grand Puba, Lord Jamar, Sadat X, DJ Alamo), which had splintered after the group's classic debut, One for All (1990). And it features the group alone, as there are no guest rappers here and the productions are mostly handled in-house (the two exceptions: Lord Finesse co-produces "Scientists of Sound" with Grand Puba, and Vance Wright is credited for "A Child Is Born"). It's natural to wonder about the circumstances that drove Brand Nubian to shelf these recordings. These songs don't measure up to those of Foundation overall, granted, but Time's Runnin' Out is nonetheless a worthwhile release. It holds together well as an album, with a consistently sparse and jazzy production aesthetic, and several gems dot the first half: the laid-back opener, "Seen Enough"; the Jay-Z-esque hook of "Girls, Girls, Girls"; the Wu-Tang motifs of "Scientists of Sound"; the dark, message-oriented title track; and the uptempo, feel-good tag-teaming of "Brand Nu Hustle." Time's Runnin' Out falls off a bit during its second half, as does the sound quality at times, but even these lesser tracks are interesting, especially for Brand Nubian fans, not to mention history-minded listeners who enjoy the mid- to late-'90s style of albums like Beats, Rhymes and Life, Stakes Is High, and Uptown Saturday Night. Make no mistake, Time's Runnin' Out is no lost classic. Foundation is the better album, no question. Still, within the context of its 2007 release, it's a welcome slice of nostalgia -- not only for Brand Nubian in the prime of their 1997-1998 reunion, but for good old-fashioned hip-hop with golden-age roots.

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tags: brand nubian, times running out, 2007, flac,