2007 was a pretty good year for the Bone Thugs N Harmony trademark. In March, they returned with the highly anticipated major label release Strength N Loyalty later to be follow up by the Ruthless labeled T.H.U.G.S. in November. The former is an attempt to reestablish past glory, sadly not living up to expectations. The later is a compilation of past work that was made in the height of the group’s demise. Ironically, T.H.U.G.S. highlights the miscalculations that Strength N Loyalty has, but at the same time does not live up to the classic offerings that the thuggish ruggish ones from Cleveland gave to the music world in the 1990s.
What is interesting about T.H.U.G.S. is that for an album that is comprised of left over material from BTNHResurrection and Thug World Order, it is a well put together LP. Usually when an album is comprised of dated tracks there is something missing. More than likely, there is not a clear idea or concept that is present, but this is not the case for T.H.U.G.S. The tone is set early as Layzie lays out the mandate for the thug nation to follow and what needs to be done in order to reclaim their community. One fact that you can take away from this album is that it has the harmonic element that is absent from Strength N Loyalty. The presence of Bizzy Bone adds to the cohesiveness of the group that guest appearances, most notably Akon, could not deliver. This could be seen on the tracks “Sweet Jane” and “Everyday Thug” as the crooning and rapid fire lyricism is evident and will surely have one reminiscing about the Bone of old. That is the positive aspect of this album, where on Strength N Loyalty, the group sounded as if they had something to prove and tried to reach an array of demographics, all the while abandoning some of their core principles. On T.H.U.G.S., the boys just let it hang and remain dedicated to their loyal fan base.
T.H.U.G.S. is definitely not without it’s flaws. For one, the beats on this album are not terrible, but they are not great either. Even though they fit the melodic delivery of the group, the production is just basic and does not captivate the attention of the listener. Adding to the fact that this album has poor transition in between songs only makes it hard to comfortably enjoy. Also, even though T.H.U.G.S. has a collective theme, there are tracks that do not follow the script, for example the song “Wildin’.” On this track, Bone rhymes about going out to the club and being prepared for whatever jumps off. This is uncharacteristic of Bone by that this is not their scene and finds them in unchartered territory that will only turn off the truest Bone fan, let alone any new listener. But with a gift comes a curse, which is basically Bone’s Achilles’ heal on this project. By this album being a rehashing of past material, it is not going to bring any new listeners to the table. Mainly, it just serves as a reminder of what could have been if certain situations have not come to fruition. – Ryan Harrison
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