“Thug World Order” not a comeback for Bone

J.K. Alston

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, a fast-rapping quintet from Cleveland, Ohio, released their not-so-long awaited fifth album on Oct. 29. The group, which has produced three quality albums and collaborated with everyone from Tupac to Mariah Carey, has consistently been victimized by its own poor judgment since it was signed by Ruthless Records in 1993. After signing a contract in which they were entitled to no royalties, the members of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony made a significant debut in 1994 with the triple platinum EP Creepin on a Come Up. They followed up that success with 1995s six-time platinum album, East 1999 Eternal. Then the trouble started. After their initial successes, members Layzie and Krayzie formed the Mo Thugs Family. This confused collective of unknown rappers released three bad albums and forced many fans not to take Bone seriously. The group itself permanently damaged its image with the release of 1997s Art of War. Though Art of War went double platinum, most critics and hip-hop fans saw it as an incredibly bad and unnecessarily long double album. The group did not produce a new collective album until 2000, when BTNHResurrection was released. Resurrection was just as solid as East 1999 Eternal but, because the group hadn’t released a respectable album since 1995, Resurrection was generally ignored. Most people labeled the album as “wack” without even listening to it simply because Bone Thugs had put it out. Despite the pre-judgment, Resurrection went platinum, as did a compellation album put out a year before it. Other things have prevented Bone from achieving respectability over the years. Member Flesh-n-Bone is serving an 11-year prison sentence. Member Bizzy Bone’s absence from shows has disappointed fans wanting to see the whole group. Sophomoric side projects with Mo Thugs, Thugline, and 7th Sign artists have been laughable efforts at best. The seven solo albums released by group members over the years have been laughable, only three of which have met or exceeded gold status. And finally there are the ridiculous situations in which members have embarrassed themselves by taking shots at irrelevant artists like Do Or Die, Twista and the Three-Six Mafia. With the politically slanted new album, Thug World Order, Bone hopes to gain back some lost respect and remedy the problems they have experienced from their poor choices. Unfortunately Thug World Order will not be turning many heads. The album does provide solid lyricism and decent production, but it is nowhere near the groundbreaking politically charged LP that it was expected to be. One key track, “What About Us” provides a great political message but all other tracks seem to come up short in making any piercing arguments. The political zest observed in songs like Eminem’s “White America” and TTupac’s “Changes” is never achieved on this album. Thug World Order definitely has something to offer. “Get Up and Get It” featuring 3LW encourages action among American youth who often seem to be unmotivated. “Not My Baby” is also a noteworthy song because it provides a warning for young men concerning the tricks that women may play. When considering the whole album, messages and creative lyricism are few and far between. The whole album sounds good; DJ U-Neek is probably one of the most underrated producers in hip-hop and the unique Bone Thug sound is there. But that can be a hindrance. Krayzie always seems to outshine the others; Bizzy is still too hard to understand; Layzie is still flat; Flesh is once again absent and Wish is once again present. People who haven’t cared for Bone sound in the past won’t change their minds with this album. But for most hip-hop fans, Thug World Order is a passable album. Bone shows some lyrical potential here but they fall short of greatness yet again. Releasing Thug World Order appears to be just the latest poor choice by bad decision-makers.