Solo debut from Bone Thugs N Harmony kingpin...
Credibility has often eluded Bone Thugs N Harmony outside their Midwest American homebase. Despite collectively shifting millions of albums, the Eazy E proteges have been hampered by their unique and melodic singjay styles. So, its no surprise Layzie Bone (with his new sobriquet of L-Burna) has chosen the simplify the group flow somewhat, and go for his own, on this solo debut, seemingly designed – in the face of rumours of group acrimony – to compete with the efforts of his comrades in arms.
And arms are the operative term here – a heavy artillery of glocks, techs, gats and grenades. At first listen, every single song of the 19 here, bar the customary ode to weed, seems to contain implicit death threats. And ‘Thug By Nature’ must surely set a new record for the most uses of the word “nigga” in an hour. Subsequent airings, though, reveal a more complex picture than drive-bys and killings, with everyday scenarios, chastisements of friends, and veiled advice to errant bandmates in there as well.
The smooth choruses, minor key melodic embellishments, and midtempo beats of Bone Thugs have been finessed and souped-up into a more individual canvas of beats, that provide smooth atmospheres for L-Burna to rhyme through. And, as often as not, half-remembered tunes and choruses lurk into view; from the dark voodoo carnival of ‘Carole Of The Bones’; through ‘Fear No Man”s extrapolation of Sam Cooke’s ‘Chain Gang’; to the contextual games played with ‘Tony Toni Tone’ on ‘Smoke On’.
L-Burna still remains an acquired taste, and defiantly so, but its hard to see how any radio stations or bedsit stereos can resist the surface smoothness here, that climaxes with the vapour trails of ‘As The Rain’. It might take months to fully sink in, but ‘Thug By Nature’ is all the better for it.