Bone Crusher is one of the more perplexing rap artists in the industry today. It will be easier to compliment what he does right later if we get the negatives of his rap style out of the way now; sadly, there are more than just a few. For a start he's severely overweight, which leads to problems with both his diction and breath control. I'm not saying this to be an ass - the man is on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club 4 and you can watch him sweating off the pounds every week. To his credit he's taking it seriously and has lost a whole lot of weight. He's also lacking in complexity and coherence when it comes to rhyme writing. I was pretty harsh about this when reviewing his last album "AttenCHUN!" - harsh, but entirely fair. The 2003 Bone Crusher seemed like an artist who would work well as a charismatic member of a group (and at one time he was part of a crew called the Lyrical Giants) but who didn't have enough in his steelo to hold down an entire album on his own.
Now for the good news - the 2006 Bone Crusher is a MUCH better artist. His diction is still a little rough at times, and he can be hard to understand when he croons hooks Ja Rule style, but like Ja before him there's something undeniably charming about his gravelly singing style. The breath control has definitely gotten better, which would make sense if he finished recording this album during or after the taping of his Celebrity Fit Club episodes. Production has DEFINITELY stepped up this time around too, thanks in large part to Chris 'Soleternity' McGill. McGill has an ear for crunk beats, and you can hear the results on tracks like the rugged underground anthem "Southern Gorillas." The synthesized horns start out BLAP.. BAH-BLAP and they're synced up to a sound that can only be described as chirping the car alarm with your keyfob remote. The drums are crispy and can easily be discerned in the song's layering, even when McGill ups the ante with more bass and a pulse raising background melody in the chorus. If you're a fan of the Lil Jon production style, this track takes that attitude and cranks it up WAY past ten, which suits Bone perfectly as he sings the menacing chorus:
"These niggaz talkin hardcore ain't no killers
You don't wanna fuck with these Southern Gorillas
Now take these slugs from my Desert Eagle
Y'all niggaz fuckin with the realla to realla
I'ma tell you one more time nigga - get from around me
Tell 'em, hey nigga GET FROM AROUND ME!
Yeah I'ma tell you one more time nigga - get from around me
WHAT?! Hey nigga GET FROM AROUND ME!"
Bone Crusher also deserves some credit for improving as a lyricist. He's not going to win an award for his rhyme writing any time soon and probably never will, but it's still clear he thought beyond the hooks on this joint and put some effort into it. Some of the songs are surprisingly personal and heartfelt, such as "Feel It":
"It's six in the mo'nin
I gotta wake my daughter and, get her dressed
Sheeit, it's six in the mo'nin (tell 'em!)
And we ain't got no lights and I'm feelin the stress
And everyday I gotta think about how we gon' live
Everyday I gotta think about it's kill or be killed
Niggaz talkin 'bout they real (HUH?) But I'll tell you what's real
When you don't know when you're gettin your next meal"
There's more than a fair amount to like on this album musically thanks to Mr. McGill. The somber bass groove of "Pistol Fo," the Dr. Dre influenced pace and attitude of "We Are," the head-nodding "Lights, Camera Action" and the frentic highway traffic and police siren infected "Danger" are all standouts. The production team of Chris and Conrad Rossar also deserves credit for their contributions to this album, including the aforementioned "Feel It" as well as the simple but effective banger "Mug On" and the soulful "Gotta Get That Money." The latter is another one of those tracks where Bone Crusher surprises the listener by exceeding expectations lyrically:
"Sometimes in this game you gotta show them niggaz muscle
And if it comes up short, nigga we's got trouble
I feel it in my heart, this music feels good
And it pays me real well, God bless the hood
It's the state of unity 'bout that cheddar mayne
It gives me goosebump just thinkin about it mayne
They say the root of all evil is that dollar bill
But how you gon' tell my children that when they belly's filled?"
Bone Crusher doesn't get a free pass though simply for showing a lot of improvement, particularly when he had so far to go just to get to this point. There are still some stupid doo-doo dumb lyrics on tracks like "I Do It," where it's once again evident Bone Crusher spent more time singing the hook than thinking about the lyrics between them, at one point resorting to an entire verse consisting of "ba-bass, ba-bass, ba-bass, ba-bass, drop, drop, drop, drop." C'mon now. I also have to question writing and titling a song called "I'm a Hustler," considering that the concept was already pretty well burned out even before Rick Ross dropped "Hustlin'" earlier this year. That in itself might be forgiveable, but the lines "See I'm 'Bout It, 'Bout It, 'Bout It like Master P/ain't No Limit to the scrilla" are definitely NOT forgiveable. While it's evident Bone Crusher is trying a lot harder both with his music and his personal life and I'd like to commend him on both accounts, that's no reason for him to rest on his laurels. Harvey Walden the 4th may seem like a real asshole at times on Celebrity Fit Club, but he's right about one thing - you get out of it what you put into it. I'd like to see Bone Crusher keep putting more into it because despite what I initially thought of him I've actually grown to respect him as an artist and see a lot of potential for him to improve more.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: August 29, 2006