Krayzie Bone :: Thug On Da Line
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
"I try to be level-headed but it seems the devil's winnin
Try to do the right thing, but I always end up sinnin, pin me
God won't forgive ya when ya pray and do the same shit
So while repentin you can't even pay your rent.." --> "Gemini"
This Bone may call himself Krayzie; but he may actually be the most
level-headed member of the whole family. In fact, the widespread
appeal of Krayzie Bone could be attributed not just to his silky
voice and smooth flow but his reputation as a "thinking man's thug."
That image and his popularity were multiplied by the sucess of his
value packed double-album debut "Thug Mentality 1999," which featured
everyone from Mariah Carey to Snoop Dogg.
His new album "Thug On Da Line" is thus a double entendre. On the
one hand, Krayzie has learned how to walk the fine line between pop
music celebrity and Cleveland gangsta rapper without having to trade
in any of his credibility. On the other hand, expectations are high
after popping off so big the first time around so Krayzie's career
is truly on the line - he can ill afford the dreaded "sophomore slump."
The fact his solo career is an extension of all the work he put in
with Bone Thugs is no excuse - Krayzie still has to keep slangin'
them hits to keep his name alive in an ever more crowded rap game.
The lead single "Hard Time Hustlin'" is definitely a step in the
right direction. Surprisingly tight for a self-produced track (with
some assistance provided by Def Jef), the song also features a
smooth Sade sample which ties together each verse beautifully.
Tales of a come up in the drug game are a dime a dozen, but this
song is personalized by the woes of his unemployed and impoverished
family, and the warnings of his locked up brother which Krayzie
simply didn't want to hear:
"But my brother started writin home
Tellin me to leave this shit alone - I say WHAT?
Nigga you don't know that I'm too deep in this
I'm livin and breathin this street shit
And if I don't play the crook,
you ain't gon' have shit on your books - look
Give me a minute I'll chill in a minute I promise I will
as soon as I finish this last load
I'ma drop the dice after this last roll
But shit went bad, six in the mornin
Crashin through my do' is the feds
And they want that bread? We want you, and I'm like OOH! (shit)
Shoulda listened to my brother, huh?"
Surprisingly, after the many guest rap stars like Treach and
Big Punisher of his last album, this album is surprisingly quiet
on the cameo front. The biggest name is R&B singer Kelis,
who not surprisingly appears on the Neptunes produced "I Don't
Know What." Those who had stereotyped the Neptunes sound as
electronic and simplistic will be pleasantly surprised by this
funky rolling groove. In fact strong production more than makes
up for a lack of guests. Krayzie
shows very solid potential behind the boards for the lamentations
of "Time After Time" (thankfully unrelated to Cyndi Lauper) and
the thuggery of "Kneight Riduz Wuz Here" by the Kneight Riduz -
David Hasselhoff may not approve, but hardcore heads definitely will.
Def Jef holds down two cuts - "I Don't Give a Fuck" and "A Thugga'
Level" - the irony here being that early 90's female rap sensation
Boss appears on the LATTER of these two tracks. She also
shows up on the silly and smoked out "Rollin' Up Some Mo'" which
re-interprets the "Mambo No. 5" as an ode to marijuana.
The rest of the album has a smattering of different music
masters; such as Shade Sheist's hitmaker Damizza on "If They Only
Knew" and a cat named Super Sako whose biggest heater is the
"Thug On Da Line" title track. This song is also notable for
an appearance by Wish Bone - the ONLY Bone Thugs member
to cameo on Krayzie's album. Fans will have to make their own
determinations why this happened, because Krayzie offers only
these cryptic words in his liner notes: "... and, to my Bone
Thug niggas Layzie, Bizzy, Wish and Flesh. Y'all niggas know
I love y'all, but what we gone do, check the time cause it
ain't much left." For better or worse though Krayzie actually
seems to thrive on his own - and with the limited amount of
guests other than rap acts he is cultivating for his Thugline
Records, Krayzie further isolates himself from the pack.
This works VERY well for introspective songs like
"Gemini" and sharply critical attacks such as "Everybody Wanna
Be Thugs." This has the perverse effect of making the listener
want even more songs of K. Bone alone - fortunately there's
JUST enough to go around to get your buzz on.
By putting it all on the line for this newest album Krayzie
shows that no matter what happens to the Bone Thugs his career
will continue strong. Those who already followed his solo
career certainly won't be dissapointed, but fans of Bone as
a group may fear the continued slew of individual albums
will have a fractious effect on reuniting an unstable group.
It's up to the individual buyer to decide whether the success
of Krayzie's solo will have that effect more than earlier
solo albums this year by Layzie and Bizzy - both of which
were light on cameos by other Bone members. The trend may
continue, but together or seperately none of them seem ready
to call it quits - and Krayzie himself has no good reason
to with this strong sophomore solo.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: August 28, 2001