L-Burna :: Thug By Nature
Label: Ruthless Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
The legacy of Eazy-E continues to live on at Ruthless Records. Even
through Bone Thugs-N-Harmony may or may not ever record again as a
crew, group member Layzie Bone has come out with his first solo album.
It may seem a little late since Krayzie Bone and Bizzy Bone have
already been exploiting their Thuggish Ruggish fame - in fact, Bizzy
released his second solo album the same day as Layzie's solo
debut hit stores. Layzie means to distinguish himself from his
breddern though by being the first to change his name. No longer
just a "Bone", Layzie is now also known as L-Burna - a name his
sister gave him to indicate how he'd "set fire" to the industry.
If you're not already familiar with the Bone Thugs revolutionary style
from their stable of industry hits, a brief introduction is in order.
Straight out of Cleveland, Ohio - the Bone Thugs came up out the
Midwest with a whole new rap format. Their rap diction is often so
fast it's hard to distinguish, and the cadence tends to group words
together in "triple time." To get an idea of how this style flows
peep the lyrics in the lead single off L-Burna's album, "Make My Day."
"Watch out! / Nigga I'ma knock out
any motherfucker that be thinkin that they bout it
Wanna talk about it / do somethin about it
Them clean-up boys'll get rowdy
Nigga get buck with me / get buck with me
Now you knowin that I'm ready to die
for Thugs N Har -mo -ny"
Combined with their tendency to harmonize their lyrics and mix
their flow with a very musical flow sometimes indistinguishable
from straight singing, the Bone Thugs rewrote the rules of hip-hop.
The Bone style is now commonplace in rap and R&B; just listen
to "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child to see how far their influence
has spread. L-Burna may have changed his name, but he definitely
hasn't changed his style. On this album he sticks with the musical
melodies and triple time rhyme flow that made his crew legendary.
Despite opening the album with a cheesy "Carole of the Bone"
that tries to thug out Christmas, L-Burna immediately rectifies
his mistake with the fire-hot "Battlefield" with a dramatic
chorus of "Put that on my momma,
I'ma bring the drama, it be death before dishonor." L-Burna
gets extra props for referencing Digital Underground
in his second verse by paraphrasing the "Humpty Dance" - it's
good to know some cats in hip-hop still respect their peers.
This is followed up by the Darren Vegas produced bass bomb
"Connectin' the Plots" featuring WC, easily one of the most
underrated rappers in hip-hop music today. The thing that
stands out is that even when L turns his flow up to high speed,
his verbal diction comes across very clearly - moreso than it
did in Bone Thugs. Going solo it seems has many advantages.
L-Burna keeps it a true solo album by performing the majority
of the nineteen tracks himself, which is both refreshing and
at the same time a little taxing. L is a more than competent
rapper but with so many tracks not all of them are up to snuff.
"Fear No Man" sounds like a merry-go-round with a broken record;
yet LT Hutton produces the spooky sounding "How Long Will it
Last" as well - they're like night and day. The song
"Still the Greatest" is
notable for including Flesh-N-Bone, but the chorus is a bit
corny. Again production makes the difference, because
Darren Vegas laces a Santana-esque latin feel into "Listen"
while Layzie raps about "getting closer to God" and doesn't
make it in any way trite or preachy.
The biggest surprise of this album for me was "There They Go", where
crooner Aaron Hall shows up to provide the hook and sing
ad libs throughout. The melody and words in the chorus
are eerily reminiscent of Tupac Shakur's "Ambitionz Az a
Ridah" but fit the song perfectly. A majority of this
album is as strong including the title track, the Tony
Toni Tone influenced ode to weed "Smoke On" and the
rebellious retaliatory recital "Up Against the Wall."
L-Burna's angry attitude informs both this song
with it's "I heard some nigga that said I was stupid
cause I fuck with Ruthless - I love Eazy" rhymes and
the album as a whole. Although he often seems mad Bone
hasn't gotten respect in the critical press their fans
certainly won't be mad at this release. With this album
Layzie proves he was an integral part of Bone and it's
success, and he's out to get the propers they BOTH deserve.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 3, 2001