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All Money Is Legal

All Money Is Legal, also known as A.M.I.L.: (All Money Is Legal), is the debut
All Money Is Legal
studio album by American rapper Amil. It was released on August 29, 2000,
through Roc-A-Fella, Columbia, and Sony Music. Jay-Z, Damon Dash, and
Amil served as executive producers with a team of producers that included Just
Blaze. Before the album's release, Amil was best known for her feature on Jay-
Z's 1998 single "Can I Get A...". She was one of several up-and-coming artists
signed to Roc-A-Fella, alongside Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel, who
released an album in 2000. Although it was her only album on Roc-A-Fella,
Amil had been closely associated with the label and its cofounder Jay-Z, earning
the moniker "First Lady of Roc-A-Fella".

A hip hop album, the lyrics of All Money Is Legal focus on wealth and, to a
lesser degree, 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, Studio album by Amil
and Quad Studios in New York City. Future spouses Jay-Z and Beyoncé met for Released August 29, 2000
the first time during these recording sessions. Although Jay-Z had written Amil's Recorded 1999–2000
verses for their past collaborations, she wrote her own lyrics for all of the
Studio The Cutting Room, The
album's tracks. Amil mostly raps throughout the album, but sings on some
Hit Factory, Quad
tracks. According to academic commentators and music critics, Amil adopted
Studios (New York City);
the persona of a "gold digger" throughout the album.
Playground Studios (Los
Reviews were mixed, the production and Amil's verses dividing critics. The Angeles)
album peaked at number 45 on the US Billboard 200 chart. Two singles – "I Got Genre Hip hop
That" with vocals from Beyoncé and "4 da Fam" with verses from Memphis
Length 51:52
Bleek, Beanie Sigel, and Jay-Z – were released from the album and promoted
Label Roc-A-Fella · Columbia ·
with music videos. "I Got That" reached number one on the Bubbling Under
Sony Music
R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Billboard chart, and "4 da Fam" charted on the Hot
R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Shortly after the release of All Money Is Legal, Amil was Producer Amil (exec.) · Jay Z
dropped from the Roc-A-Fella roster. Rumors circulated within the industry that (exec.) · Damon Dash
her departure stemmed from personal conflict with Jay-Z. Years later, she (exec.) · Karreem Biggs ·
publicly denied the rumors and said that she had left because she was unable to G. Robertson · EZ Elpee
handle industry pressures and wanted to have more time to care for her child. · Jay "Waxx" Garfield ·
Although her music career continued, Amil did not sign to another major label Poke & Tone · Ty Fyffe ·
and she dropped out of the commercial mainstream of hip hop. Rockwilder · Chavon
"Scripture" Henry
Amil chronology
Contents All Money Amil Az Iz
Is Legal (2008)
Background and recording
Composition and lyrics
Release and promotion Singles from All Money Is Legal

Critical reception
Aftermath 1. "I Got That"
Track listing Released: July 5, 2000
Credits and personnel 2. "4 da Fam"
Charts Released: July 29, 2000
External links

Background and recording

In 1997, Amil formed the girl group Major Coins with Liz Leite and Monique.[1][2] At that time, Amil was not interested in being
a solo artist and was uncertain about pursuing a career as a rapper, and later said "I never looked at it as going beyond me being
known in the streets."[2] When Jay-Z requested that Leite provide vocals for "It's Like That" from his third studio album Vol. 2...
Hard Knock Life (1998),[2] Amil accompanied her to the recording studio.[1] Jay-Z asked Amil to freestyle during the sessions,
and her vocals were featured on the album single "Can I Get A...".[1] He later encouraged her to become a solo artist.[2]

After Major Coins disbanded, Jay-Z signed Amil to Roc-A-Fella in 1998.[1][3]

She was one of several new artists signed to the label,[4] and she became a high-
profile member of the label and received the nicknames "Diana Ross" and "the
First Lady of Roc-A-Fella".[5][6] According to a 2015 Fact article, Amil's
signing to the label became the subject of industry gossip.[7] She denied reports
of a pregnancy involving a married man[3] and a romantic relationship with Jay-
Z.[2] Foxy Brown accused Jay-Z of using Amil to try to create a new artist
similar to herself.[8] In a 2003 interview, he denied these claims and said he
stopped working with Brown in favor of Amil because the two women
frequently fought on tour.[9]

Before the release of her debut album, Amil featured on albums by Mariah
Jay-Z (pictured in 2003) signed Amil Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Tamar Braxton, and Funkmaster Flex.[1][10] She
to Roc-A-Fella and encouraged her
collaborated again with Jay-Z for the 1999 singles "Nigga What, Nigga Who
development as a solo artist.
(Originator 99)" and "Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)"[1][11] and the 2000 song
"Hey Papi".[12] Jay-Z wrote all of Amil's verses for these collaborations.[3] She
also performed on his Hard Knock Life tour.[13] Amil, who became known as one of Jay-Z's protégés,[12][14] described her work
with him as "a natural thing" and "always smooth".[2] As she told Vibe in 2000, "[He] just put this career in my hands. I went
from having nothing at all to wearing diamonds."[3] The same year, she appeared in a Sprite advertisement campaign alongside
Roxanne Shante, Mia X, Angie Martinez, and Eve; they are referred to as the Five Deadly Women, a reference to the 1978 film
Five Deadly Venoms.[15] She also played a lead character, Tanya, in the 2000 direct-to-video film Get Down or Lay Down;[3][16]
it was distributed through a joint deal with Roc-A-Fella and Miramax.[16] Amil was also the only prominent female in the 2000
documentary Backstage.[4]

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, Jay-Z, and Damon Dash were the album's executive producers.[17] It was one
of several albums from up-and-coming artists at Roc-A-Fella to be released in 2000, along with Memphis Bleek's The
Understanding and Beanie Sigel's The Truth.[4] Amil has co-writing credits on all of the album's songs,[18] and Jay-Z said that
she had a "talent for song-making".[3] To be taken seriously as a solo artist by "naysayers who say Jay is her puppeteer", Amil
said: "I kept this album me — nothing more, nothing less."[19] She said she wanted to avoid sexual topics on All Money Is Legal
and had planned not to use any profanity in her future music, explaining: "I know I sin, but I'm trying to become a better
person."[3] Producer Just Blaze contributed to All Money Is Legal,[20] and felt his work on the album raised his profile within
Roc-A-Fella.[21] Beyoncé recorded her guest vocals for "I Got That" in 2000 in a separate recording session. Her then-manager
Mathew Knowles paid Roc-A-Fella for the featured spot as a way to assess her viability as a solo artist, since she was still a part
of Destiny's Child at the time. As a result of this collaboration, Beyoncé met her future husband Jay-Z for the first time.[22]

Composition and lyrics

All Money Is Legal is a hip hop album with 13 tracks.[23][24] Alongside Just Blaze, the album's production team included Tyrone
Fyffe, Jon-John Robinson, LES, Poke & Tone, Rockwilder, EZ Elpee, Chavon Henry, Sean Lashley, K-Rob, Jay Garfield, Lofey,
and Omen.[17][18] David Browne, writing for Entertainment Weekly, described its compositions as having "low slung beats and
[an] uncluttered vibe" similar to Jay-Z's music from that era,[23] and the Dayton Daily News' Talia Jackson said the album had his
signature funk samples and R&B choruses.[25]

Lyrically, the songs on All Money Is Legal focus mainly on material possessions and money,[3][23] as evidenced by the album
title.[23] Some tracks touch on more personal issues,[3][24] specifically "Smile 4 Me" and "Quarrels".[24] The New York Daily
News' Jim Farber wrote that Amil was more personal in her music than Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim, whom he described as "sexy
cartoons".[26] Amil raps most of her vocals on the album, but also sings on several tracks like "Get Down".[24][28] Critics have
referred to Amil's rapping style as sing songy,[23][26] and Farber said she "specializes in short, jabbing melodies".[26]

The opening track "Smile 4 Me" was inspired by Amil's life, and includes the lyrics: "Got my people up north trying to slice the
bid / While I'm in love with a nigga with a wife and a kid."[27][24] On "Smile 4 Me", Amil retells aspects of her life before her
music career, such as living on welfare and shoplifting.[23] The second song, "I Got That", features Beyoncé on its chorus and
encourages women to become more independent.[24] Commentators compared the song to music released by Destiny's
Child,[29][30] and a Spin writer said it continues the "statement[s] of simple financial and romantic independence" found
throughout Beyoncé's discography.[29] Amil references Satan as being at the root of all business in the bass-heavy track
"Quarrels",[3][24] which has additional vocals by R&B singer Thomas.[28] Other critics interpreted the song as being about an
unhealthy relationship.[26][31] In "Girlfriend", she worries about infidelity after taking a woman's boyfriend, and raps about the
shame of going "from Gucci sandals back to no-name brands" on "Anyday".[23]

Amil's lyrics on All Money Is Legal have been cited as an example of the theme of "gold digging" in hip hop performed by
women. In a 2003 academic paper, women's studies professor Layli D. Phillips and social psychology professor Dionne P.
Stephens cited Amil and All Money Is Legal as part of a trend of female hip hop artists performing the stereotypical role of a
"Gold Digger".[32] Along with the "Freak", "Diva", and "Dyke", Phillips and Stephens named the "Gold Digger" as one of the
major archetypes adopted by female rappers, defining the role with the following terms:

"The Gold Digger will supposedly resort to any and all sexual means to gain whatever financial rewards she
wants or needs, seeing men as stepping stones to provide for short-term needs. Short term is not defined so much
by a length of time, but rather a mind set whereby the male is good for as long as he can meet the Gold Digger's
demands. She takes whatever she can, and when the well runs dry, the Gold Digger is history."[32]

They highlighted the lyric "You know I gotta keep tricks up the sleeve, leav' em bankrupt with blue balls till the dick bleed" from
the title track "All Money is Legal (A.M.I.L.)" as an example of the Gold Digger persona in Amil's music.[32] Vibe's Andréa
Duncan wrote that Amil used the album to balance her onstage persona as a gold digger with her more mellow personality in her
personal life.[3] Len Righi, writing for The Morning Call, described Amil's style as "golddigger rap", but noted that the album
contained songs that were "not all diamonds and major coins".[33]
All Money Is Legal includes three features from Jay-Z.[18] Amil and Jay-Z rap about materialism on "Heard It All",[23] which
features the pair attempting to scam one another.[26] He also contributed to "That's Right" after hearing Just Blaze's production
during a recording session.[21] His final appearance is the album closer "4 da Fam", also featuring Memphis Bleek and Beanie
Sigel.[28] For his verse in "4 da Fam", Jay-Z rapped about expecting a child: "I got four nephews and they're all writing ... and I'm
having a child, which is more frightening."[34] A column in Vibe interpreted the line as a pregnancy announcement from Jay-Z,
who was an uncommitted bachelor at the time.[35] In a 2000 statement to the New York Daily News, Jay-Z denied these
reports.[36] He had his first child, Blue Ivy, with Beyoncé in January 2012.[34]

Release and promotion

"I Got That" was released on July 5, 2000, as the album's lead single.[24][28] The
music video for "I Got That" appeared on the list of BET's most-played clips for
the weeks of August 1 and August 8, 2000.[37][38] The video also played on The
Box—a now-defunct music video network—during the same two weeks.[37][38]
Kathy Iandoli of Dazed praised "I Got That" as a showcase for Amil's potential
as a rapper.[30] Conversely, Vibe named the song among the year's worst artistic
pairings in hip hop for its Beyoncé feature.[39] "I Got That" reached number one
on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Billboard chart on September
16.[40] Beyoncé's vocals have been applauded retrospectively; Andrew
Unterberger at Spin said the song "deserved better, and Bey's breathy chorus is a
big reason why",[29] and Iandoli said that "Beyoncé did Amil the favor of her
life" with her feature.[30]

All Money Is Legal was released through Roc-A-Fella, Columbia, and Sony
Music on August 29, 2000, as a cassette, and CD.[41] It was issued in both an
"explicit" version with a Parental Advisory label and a "clean" version with
edited lyrics.[41] The album had originally been scheduled for a release in early
Beyoncé (pictured in 2001) featured August.[28] With an acronym form matching the artist's name, All Money Is
on the album's lead single, "I Got Legal is alternately titled A.M.I.L.: (All Money Is Legal).[3] The album sold
That". 29,000 copies in the first week of its release,[42] and simultaneously debuted and
peaked at number 45 on the US Billboard 200 chart.[43] On the Billboard Top
R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, All Money Is Legal reached its peak position at
number 12 on October 7, 2000, and was on the chart for a total of eight weeks.[44]

The second single, "4 da Fam", was released on July 29, 2000,[45][a] and issued as a Double A-Side with "I Got That";[46][47] an
accompanying "4 da Fam" music video had premiered earlier in the summer.[48] For a 2017 Vulture article, John Kennedy had a
lukewarm response to the song, calling it "a passable Roc-A-Fella posse cut that feels more like a team-building exercise".[49] In
a 2018 Complex article, Andrew Barber and Al Shipley considered "4 da Fam" to be "really a Jay record" despite being on Amil's
album; they praised Jay-Z for having "the best verse and batt[ing] clean up".[50] The song peaked at number 99 on the Hot
R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Billboard chart and number 29 on the Hot Rap Songs Billboard chart.[51][52] "That's Right" and "Get
Down" were released on a 12-inch single and vinyl record as promotional singles.[53][54]

Critical reception
The album received a mixed response from critics. In Vibe, Andréa Duncan praised it as a "surprisingly diverse and thoughtful
collection of tracks".[3] AllMusic's MacKenzie Wilson said Amil was "bold enough to make it solo" with her "New York
childhood street smarts" and a "sultry sassiness" throughout the music.[55] A reviewer for The Source commended the album as
"a set that displays [Amil's] feminine flair".[19] and Anthony M. Thompson for the San Antonio Express-News described it as
having a "distinct, woman's touch".[57] Despite criticizing All
Professional ratings
Money Is Legal as "unfortunately titled", Dan DeLuca said in The
Philadelphia Inquirer that Amil's rapping abilities distinguished her Review scores
from other female rappers and allowed her to stand out from the
Source Rating
album's featured artists.[59] In Entertainment Weekly, David
AllMusic [55]
Browne praised some of the lyrics—specifically, references to
Aesop and Blake Carrington—but he dismissed the overall focus on Entertainment Weekly B[23]
money as unoriginal.[23] Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing for the Los Angeles Times [56]

Washington City Paper, panned All Money Is Legal as "a [57]

San Antonio Express-News
schizophrenic work" with songs "swinging from aching honesty to
USA Today [58]
gangsta-bitch schtick". Coates deemed the album "self-hating" and
said Amil had "reduc[ed] herself to a prostitute with a microphone"
with the sexually explicit lyrics.[27]

Several reviewers cited "Quarrels" and "Smile 4 Me" as album highlights. An anonymous review columnist in Billboard praised
the autographical "Smile 4 Me" as "a testament to [Amil's] lyricism" and wrote that her verses in "Quarrels" on themes of
morality would "make heads both nod and think".[24] Despite an overall negative assessment of the album, Coates said Amil had
successfully pulled from her past in "melancholy confessionals" like "Smile 4 Me".[27] The Morning Call's Len Righi praised
"Smile 4 Me" as the song that Amil best represents her "gritty self-assurance" and "fierce determination".[33] Righi later named
All Money Is Legal among the best albums of the year.[60] A Vibe columnist identified "Quarrels", alongside Eve's 1999 single
"Love Is Blind", as examples of "strong-willed, pro-woman songs" written and recorded by female rappers.[61] Despite their
criticism of Amil's album as inferior to her collaborations with Jay-Z, Soren Baker, writing for the Los Angeles Times, believed
she demonstrated "promise when she becomes more personal in her storytelling".[56] On the other hand, the Dayton Daily News'
Talia Jackson criticized Amil as "less than believable when she is not rapping about her material world".[25] In a 2014 Billboard
interview, Amil said that "Smile 4 Me" was one of her favorite songs from the album and that she generally preferred the songs
drawn from her personal life.[2]

Retrospective assessments of All Money Is Legal have remained mixed. In a 2018 Rolling Stone article, Rob Sheffield praised
Amil for releasing "her own kick-ass album with [an] excellent title" following her early collaboration with Jay-Z.[62] In an
article for PopMatters published about three years after the album's release, Terry Sawyer said Amil's music was generic and left
only a "fleeting, shrugging impression". He unfavorably compared Amil to rapper Sarai, saying both had "virtually identical",
"silken, imploded vocal styles".[63] At Fact, Son Raw said Amil's voice made her music a "love-her-or-hate-her proposition", but
highlighted "4 da Fam" as a "prime Roc La Familia-era posse cut".[7] Complex also included All Money is Legal in a 2015 listicle
on "factually incorrect" titles for hip hop albums because, in their words, "guess what, Amil, all money is not legal."[64]

Amil was removed from the Roc-A-Fella roster shortly after the release of All Money Is Legal.[5][65] After appearing in a music
video alongside the rapper Baby (later known as Birdman), a February 2001 Vibe column speculated that she was likely to sign a
record deal with Cash Money, the label he co-founded.[66] But she never signed a deal with Cash Money, and—other than a
select few releases—she largely dropped out of the mainstream, major-label recording industry.[2][5][67]

Music industry rumors attributed Amil's departure from Roc-A-Fella to personal conflict between her and Jay-Z, as well as his
disapproval of her (reported) weight gain.[6][66] During a 2011 interview with Vibe, she responded to the rumors about her and
"People think there was bad blood between us, but there never
was any bad blood. Things happen and I wasn't ready for where
my career was going at that time. It was really

Her son was important to her and she says her career took a backseat, as
evidenced by some of her choices. [68]

“I didn’t think about the legalities of a lot of things,” she says. “I

never cared about the contracts. I could have been signing my
life away… I was not a businesswoman at that time. I didn’t
have a manager or the things that most artists have. I didn’t put
my all into it. I didn’t give 100 percent of myself. I felt like it
just wasn’t for me. That’s when I started rebelling. I started
rebelling because I wanted out. It was easier for me to slip away.
I faded myself. No one faded me. And, that’s when everything
seemed to go left. I think they [Roc-A-Fella] knew through my After the album's release, Amil
actions that I wasn’t in it. I wasn’t the artist that was doing (pictured in 2014) left Roc-A-Fella
everything be No. 1. I wasn’t doing anything to make myself and mostly dropped out of the public
bigger than what I was. I wasn’t putting any effort in promotion.
I wasn’t looking at it as a career. It’s not that I wasn’t doing it
because I was stupid. It was because I didn’t want to be there
anymore….There was never a conversation. He [Jay Z] knew
that that’s not where I wanted to be. I told him that I couldn’t do
it for another year. I think he understood, overall. He thought that
as time went on I’d be ready, but later realized I wasn’t. I know
he knew, ‘She don’t give a fuck about this shit.’ I was fine being
an around-the-way rapper. If I could go back in time and do it all
over again, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to jump in the game.
If I would have did it again, I would have left it alone. I wasn’t
cut out for it. I probably would have stepped in as a writer.”

— Amil_(rapper), HipHopDX

Amil said that she took a hiatus from her music career because she was mentally unprepared for the pressures of the industry and
she wanted to take care of her child, who suffered from asthma. Describing herself as "rebell[ing] against the industry" after the
album's release, she refused to do promotion for it and said: "I faded myself." She said that she regretted signing a record deal,
preferring to be "an around the way rapper" and a songwriter instead.[2]

Jay-Z did not comment on Amil's departure from Roc-A-Fella at the time and, as of 2017, has still never publicly discussed why
Amil was dropped from the label.[6][66] However, Jay-Z did defend the quality of All Money Is Legal against its detractors in a
2013 appearance on the New York radio show The Breakfast Club. When DJ Envy asked Jay-Z who had been the "worst signing"
at Roc-A-Fella, Charlamagne tha God interrupted to say "Amil!" and Jay-Z replied, "Nah, nah, I wouldn't say Amil. Amil's
album, you should listen to it. It's good!"[69]

Track listing
Credits adapted from the liner notes of All Money Is Legal.[18]
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Smile 4 Me" Amil Whitehead · EZ Elpee 4:26
Wayne Henderson ·
Lamont Porter
2. "I Got That" (featuring Beyoncé) Whitehead · Shawn LES · Poke & Tone 3:17
Carter · Tamy Lestor
Smith · Samuel J.
Barnes · Leshan Lewis
· Makeda Davis · Jean
Claude Olivier
3. "Get Down" Whitehead · Richard Jon-John 4:29
Hell · Johnathan
Robertson · Jarrett
4. "Ya'll Dead Wrong" Whitehead · Dana Rockwilder 3:51
5. "Heard It All" (featuring Jay-Z) Whitehead · Carter · Di Just Blaze · Henry · 3:27
Lazzaro · Sean Lashley Lashley
· Harper · Cherubine ·
Chavon Henry
6. "Quarrels" (featuring Carl Whitehead · Jay EZ Elpee · Garfield 4:10
Thomas) Garfield · Porter
7. "Girlfriend" Whitehead · Stinson Rockwilder 3:14
8. "All Money Is Legal (A.M.I.L.)" Whitehead · Tyrone Fyffe 3:46
9. "That's Right" (featuring Jay-Z) Whitehead · Carter · Just Blaze 4:21
Justin Smith · Lionel
10. "Anyday" Whitehead · Joseph K-Rob 4:08
Walsh · Patrick Culie ·
Malik Johnson
11. "Raw" Whitehead · Michael Lofey 4:11
12. "No 1 Can Compare" Whitehead · Sidney Omen 4:15
13. "4 da Fam" (featuring Jay-Z, Whitehead · Carter · Fyffe 4:19
Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel) Dwight Grant · Malik
Cox · Fyffe
Total length: 51:52
Sample credits

"Smile 4 Me" contains a sample from "Summer Love", performed by David Oliver.
"I Got That" contains a sample from "Seventh Heaven", performed by Gwen Guthrie.
"Get Down" contains a sample from "Blank Generation", performed by Richard Hell and the Voidoids.
"Heard It All" contains a sample from the composition "Chitarra Romana", written by Cherubine, Di Lazzaro and
"Anyday" contains a sample from "Collage", performed by The Three Degrees.
"4 da Fam" contains a sample from "Main Theme", by Roy Budd.

Credits and personnel

Credits adapted from AllMusic:[17]
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

Chart (2000)

US Billboard 200[43] 45

US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[44] 12

a. "4 da Fam" appeared on the Hot Rap Songs Billboard chart in the July 29, 2000 issue of Billboard. The
information for the chart is gathered by "a national sample of retail store sales reports".[45]


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External links
All Money is Legal (https://www.discogs.com/release/308769) at Discogs

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