With their first album, 1991’s A Future Without A Past, Leaders of the New School established itself as a charming, energetic, talented unit worthy of its affiliation with (if not exactly membership in) the NYC rap collective Native Tongues. But fans checking in with the group for its second album, 1993’s T.I.M.E., were in for a surprise. Instead of more zany riffs on high school, LONS served up a half-baked sci-fi concept album.
Reviews were mixed (Allmusic said, “The group doesn’t entirely pull off this concept, and their point understandably becomes murky or downright opaque”) and not long after the album’s release the group broke up while making an appearance on Yo! MTV Raps.
It’s too bad, because it would have been interesting to see what LONS did after this transition into more mature-sounding material (instead, the group’s breakout star Busta Rhymes launched a solo career that has yielded steadily diminishing returns over the years while the other members simply faded into obscurity).
So what we’re left with is T.I.M.E., which does contain some real bangers, most notably “Classic Material,” an epic posse cut built on unlikely sample sources the Allman Brothers Band and Iron Butterfly, and “What’s Next,” a propulsive, verbose yet radio-ready jam that stood out in era stuffed with such moments.