Bone Thugs-N-Harmony :: Thug Stories :: Mo Thugs Records/Koch Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Let me make this the last time a nigga gotta say it
The original Bone Thugs, them niggaz ain't to play wit
We get down for our damn thang, rank us among the greatest
And I'm sendin my shouts out, and fuck you to the haters
who deny - in 1994 we switched the game up
with the homies with the rappin and the flow that always change up
Playin lames in the game what a shame had to hang up
they music careers, cause my clique brought the bangers"

After a four year layoff since "Thug World Order" the Bone Thugs are back on the scene, just as mean and a little more lean. The group has now been pared down to Wish, Layzie and Krayzie. Flesh is still doing a bid until at least 2008 and Bizzy has been expelled from the group altogether, although he still seems to have friendly ties with Layzie given their duet album as the "Bone Brothers" and several appearances on his "New Revolution" CD. Regardless you won't find Bizzy anywhere on "Thug Stories" - he's not a featured guest on any songs and he gets no shoutouts in the liner notes. Unless you hear otherwise from the group in the future another "reunion" seems highly unlikely. The "Intro" quoted above shows they are perfectly fine carrying on without him - laying claim to the Bone legacy with or without him. "When we put all together, Thug niggaz gettin dough/settin trends in this bitch like we did it befo'."

This album is the smooth musical grooves with the slightly hard and gangsterish backdrop Bone fans have come to expect over the years. The Steve Pageot produced "Call Me" sets things off on the right note - laid back keys and flows and lyrics that emphasize hooking up with a choice female for some RELATIONS, intercourse that is. Many of the best Bone group songs have that laid back relaxing feel that makes you feel like you're chilling in a warm Malibu breeze instead of on the cold streets of their native Cleveland, and this song is certainly no exception. The same can be said of their refreshing first single "Don't Stop" where it's explicitly stated that Bone's goal is to "keep it cool as a fan" but still has the slightly ominous warning to "please forgive us because we know we in the last days." Still it's hard to pick any point on this album where Bone sounds overly depressed or nihilistic. They flow to the Staple Singers on "Do it Again," vow that there's "Still No Surrender" to cops who kill or "Mr. Law Protectah" as they refer to him over the reggae influenced grooves, and spit their "Thug Stories" on the Platinum Brothers produced title track as only they can.

That's not to say Bone have abandoned their Cleveland roots or the dark backdrop which has always been within their songs since the earliest days. "So Sad" is an indictment of "slimy grimy women" who seem to have babies just to get child support and "have children to make a livin." "Fire" is an up-tempo and energetic DJ Mauly T track which thanks to raucous guitar riffs and a catchy chorus could be another hit single, but certainly a much harder and crunker one than "Don't Stop." And for the aforementioned haters, Bone includes reminders on this CD to "Stand Not in Our Way" and provides a warning that you wouldn't want to live "This Life" that they do. At only 12 tracks long (15 if you got the version with a bonus CD) it's a good album that runs by remarkably fast, leaving you hungry for more almost the minute it's done. That's good news considering many would have said they were burned out after "Thug World Order" and the fact they released a "Greatest Hits" album last year almost suggested they were burnt out too. For whatever reason splitting with Bizzy has seemed to refresh and reinvigorate the remaining trio, which results in "Thug Stories" being a satisfying experience that should renew interest in the group for the forseeable future.

Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10

Originally posted: September 26, 2006