Press play and allow yourself to be swept away in the smooth rhythm of what Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has to say. Taking the listener on a ride never duplicated by other artists, the Bone Thugs offer a completely unique style to rap music. Forget relying on a complex beat to satisfy the listener, Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Flesh-N-Bone, and Wish Bone create music led by their commanding tongue twisters. With their new album, Strength & Loyalty [Interscope], the Bone Thugs would like to remind music fans what real talent is.
By no means new to the game, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has been part of hip-hop for more than 15 years. The Cleveland-raised group recorded their first album in 1993, and later in 1995 recorded E 1999 Eternal [Ruthless], their most successful album to date. E 1999 Eternal sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, making it a diamond-certified album in sales. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has had three Grammy nominations and won in 1997 with their single “Tha Crossroads.” Strength & Loyalty, the group’s seventh album, was released in May of 2007 after a five-year absence, but the rappers have only stepped up their game.
Strength & Loyalty begins with a high-energy track called “Flow Motion,” a great way to define the group’s skills. The Bone Thugs have a signature style, but not when it comes to the background beats. The artists always try to be innovative with their work, for example, their song “Wind Blow” incorporates Fleetwood Mac’s single “The Chain,” creating a rock/country beat full of guitar runs. The unexpected mixture makes for a surprisingly entertaining track.
Known in the past for their hard rhymes often about crime, violence, and drug-use, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has highlighted some lighter themes in Strength & Loyalty. “I Tried,” featuring Akon, and “Lil Love,” featuring Mariah Carey, are Strength & Loyalty’s most popular songs. “I Tried” is a slower song about the temptations and the struggle of getting caught in the trap of street life, thoughtfully accented by Akon’s one-of-a-kind voice. Another note-worthy ballad including Akon at the end of Strength & Loyalty is “Never Forget Me,” with a Rocky-esque theme about being goal-driven and putting in hard work. “Order My Steps (Dear Lord),” a high-energy, powerful religious song, is based on an inspirational chorus taken from a popular church song. This track has the listener imagining a choir sway in time and skillfully belt and echo the chorus. Don’t be confused, however--even though the Bone Thugs have touched on softer topics in this album, they have not lost their hard edge. The songs “Gun Blast,” “9mm,” and “Streets” all have haunting sounds and threats with promises of revenge.
Choosing to focus their effort on creating quality songs rather than giving in to the popular demand for marketable hits, the Bone Thugs have sacrificed airplay for pride and originality. The rap artists, who aren’t afraid to talk about their faith in God, create music that reflects real life and real issues. Strength & Loyalty is an album full of feel-good, uplifting music that can be played from beginning to end. Featuring captivatingly intelligent lyrics riddled at top-speed, Strength & Loyalty proves Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has an extraordinary gift for creating poetry with a beat.