Hip-hop producer duo Internet Money – or Taz Taylor and Nick Mira – have been responsible for some of the most inescapable rap hits over the past couple years, including tracks like “Ransom,” “Lucid Dreams” and playing a big role in some of XXXTENTACION’s early success. When jumpstarting an entire movement from behind the scenes, the inevitable producer compilation album loaded with guest features was sure to be on the way. While quite a few of these tracks actually stray from the emo-trap formula, some of its heavy hitters certainly show up and feel right at home on Internet Money’s melancholy yet upbeat instrumentals. The duo proves that they’re just as capable creating an all-out trap banger as well, though not as consistently as you might hope on an album like this one. B4 The Storm ends up being a massively mixed bag with slightly more hits than misses. There are more than a few smaller artists on here as a favour and huge artists phoning it in that go off the rails on their feature verses, but when it all comes together, there’s not many rap hitmakers as exciting at the moment.
The album’s cover depicts some kind of carnival ride, and the brief intro “Message” from TyFontaine immediately catapults listeners into that world with a chaotic and cascading synth instrumental backed up by aggressive trap hi-hat rolls and an accordion. TyFontaine himself goes about as hard as possible on the beat to send the strong message he intended to and kick off a long line of hard-hitting rap collabs. One of the strangest things about this album is how much it almost sets up like a pattern, alternating between good tracks and bad ones save for a couple runs of back-to-back successes – so unfortunately, the first track here bringing together Trippie Redd, Lil Keed and Young Nudy opens the project on a bit of a downer. Trippie handles the majority of the track with a repetitive melodic flow in a tired-sounding lower register over one of the more minimal beats here, and when it drops back to simple bass and percussion for the other two weaker features, their woozy and carefree approaches to the track need to be masked behind bombastic percussion that isn’t there to really hit hard. Most of the greatest tracks on this project are actually either solo ventures or an instance where Internet Money really assemble a crew of kindred musical spirits, like with Lil Mosey, Lil Skies and iann dior coming together on “Lost Me.” All three have benefitted from the injection of alt-rock stylings into hip-hop and combined it with more standard rap confidence and braggadocio, and the bright and bouncy beat here allows their catchy melodic instincts to take over – Skies really shuts it down with a late verse in his rougher cadence.
Just because there’s such a wide array of talent levels and musical styles on this project, most of the better tracks come when a single artist gets one of these beats all to themselves. TheHxliday receives one of the more fun-loving beats on the project with the track “Familiar” and augments the earth-shattering bass and slide whistle with some of the more dark and depressing lyrics here set to a catchy vocal melody for the kind of engaging contrast the producers are known for. Known court jester Lil Tecca once again collaborates with the duo on the track “JLO,” dropping bars on bars of cheesy and lovable punchlines over the kind of blaring and cinematic synths that would accompany Superman in his world-famous pose. Internet Money connecting so well on these two nearly opposite tracks back-to-back really shows the extent of their versatility and potential to take over the genre even further in the future. Juice WRLD protégé The Kid LAROI shows why he just might be up next to take that lane with his solo track “Speak,” offering some decidedly Juice-inspired vocal lines as he reaches up to the top of his range while throwing the entire idea of romance in a blender. It’s the two final solo ventures on the album that stand out higher than all of the rest, however. I have absolutely no idea who lilspirit is, but his tender vocals on the retro-pop track “Devastated” show so much more musicality and passion than most of the other artists here combined. Kevin Gates’ bellowing hook on “No Option” as he goes deep into the residual effects of his prison sentence on his mental health makes for another track that’s simultaneously incredibly catchy and sad.
Scattered elsewhere throughout the tracklist, however, I think someone might need to run a background check on TyFontaine and make sure he’s not one of the Internet Money guys’ cousins or something because outside of his introduction he really brings down the other three tracks he’s on here. Usually paired with other low-profile artists, some of them are actually even less enjoyable. The track “Right Now” sees him link up with Playboi Carti clone Cochise for a battle of obnoxious high-pitched rap voices and tired triplet flows. 24kGoldn seems like one of the most promising up-and-coming rappers at the moment, but his whiny hook on the track “Take It Slow” doesn’t do much to make Fontaine’s voice more palatable either – honestly, quite a bit of what makes some of these tracks falter is the fact that Internet Money has proven that one of the only things they maybe SHOULDN’T try to do is a smooth R&B-tinged track on a couple occasions here. They don’t have nearly as many fresh and exciting ideas in the area. TheHxliday strains his voice and wails “I swear that I ain’t simping” on “Let You Down,” while the seemingly near-comatose up-and-comer StaySolidRocky gets a guest feature off a TikTok snippet that blew up on the track “Block,” playing off of Trippie Redd getting into the unlistenable garbled and off-beat cadence he uses when he gets aggressive on the hook.
With a couple glaring exceptions, most of the bigger names attached to this project take the opportunity an Internet Money beat provides to them and do what they do best, exercising their hitmaking ways. Once you get past Swae Lee and Future doing God knows what on the awkwardly clinical and painfully derivative dancehall slow jam “Thrusting” and the unholy combination of emotionless robots Gunna and NAV on the closing track “Lemonade,” some of rap’s brightest stars are sprinkled throughout. The dynamic sadboi duo of Juice WRLD and Trippie Redd link up once again for the track “Blastoff,” which has been getting some serious traction online for good reason. Over the kind of mellow and somber acoustic loop that made “Lucid Dreams” such a fascinating musical blend, the two pour out their hearts about romantic betrayal. There’s something about Juice sounding so dynamic, emotionally genuine, and human after his passing that really strikes a chord, and he delivers a better verse here than most of his recent album. Lil Tecca appears again in a collaboration with A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie as they ride over a classic Internet Money mix of emotional piano and what sounds like a child’s xylophone toy on “Somebody,” while Wiz Khalifa of all people appears on “Giddy Up” to sing one of the more anthemic hooks here with 24kGoldn.
It’s tough to really review a project like this one as an album, because there are so many different directions it takes. But as a collection of tracks from a hot producer duo, there are more than a few that could easily become smash hits as long as you know which songs to promptly delete from the tracklist in your own personal library. As a whole, however, you never know what you’re going to get here.
Favourite Tracks: Devastated, Blastoff, No Option, JLO
Least Favourite Track: Thrusting