Album Review: Bone-4-Life (2005) by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

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Under the direction of Tim “DJ U-Neek” Middleton, the group’s longtime producer, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (without Bizzy Bone and Flesh-n-Bone) releasedBone 4 Life an Internet-only EP album called Bone 4 Life in September of 2005 through their independent label Bone Thugs Records/U-Neek Entertainment.

This album contains 14 tracks, but all of the tracks do not feature Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.  In fact, the first nine tracks feature Bone:  tracks 1-6 present explicit contents, and tracks 7-9 present clean/radio versions.  The latter tracks, 10 through 14, are bonus tracks that feature Bone’s affiliates.

In reality, this semi-album contains only five Bone songs – with a medley, so they will be given in depth scrutiny as they appear:  track 1, “Playa”; track 2, “Playing The Game”; track 3, “Put Yo Hands Up”; track 4, “Wrong vs. Right”; track 5, “Hustla”; and track 6, “Thug-A-Tone.”

1.  PLAYA
“Playa” contains a replay of “Take A Chance” performed by Nuance.

Bone’s albums usually start with a blistering song, but “Playa” fails to capture that energy.  The song literally starts off on a so-so note with an introduction by Layzie Bone, stating “Hey ladies…”  What comes after is a boring chorus performed by Bone’s affiliate Thin C:  “Bob yo head, mean mug somebody / While ya sippin’ on Bacardi / Playahata, that’s what you do (You a hata) / Oh my god, I’m just so polish / Why these bit..hes wanna holla? / I’m so cool, that’s just how I do (I’m a playa).”

Wish Bone, who usually appears at the latter of tracks, opens verse one followed by Layzie Bone, and Krayzie Bone comes in thereafter with the most interesting verse and flow, which states in part:  “You never see me with a lot of security guards / I keep my security tucked right inside of my drawers / It’s been a lot of playa hatin’ on Bone / But when I get my chrome, I bet they won’t no mo (No mo) / Control, the coldest flow, that’s right (That’s right) / I represent it for the Midwest side / Steady in it, to win it, get rid of us, they’ll never do / Hate us if you want, but we’ll be two steps ahead of you.”

The overall track is decent, but the chorus is really dull and decreases the intensity of the song.  Moreover, the track almost sounds like a club-type song due to the beat by DJ U-Neek.

2.  PLAYING THE GAME
“Playing The Game” contains a replay of “So He’s Yours Now” performed by Barbara Mason.

The theme of the song involves women and how some of them play men by cheating and using them.  However, the song doesn’t degrade women by using words such as sluts, whores, and constantly throwing out the B-word like so many Hip Hop/Rap artists do.

This track has a very relaxed vibe to it, and the members’ easy-going flows match well with the beat.  Likewise, Krayzie’s harmonizing chorus sounds really good.

This song is good; however, Bone’s affiliate, Keef G, who is featured on the song, really brings it down.  Keef G, “the bum” as he calls himself, has no business being on this song, for his short verse is nonsense and terrible:  “Jiggaloes get lonely for this pop corn love, this alligator woman meetin’ me at the club, she got some tricks up her sleeve baby you messin’ with a bum, I’m off that one fifty one trick you tryin’ to play the wrong one.”

This pathetic verse was not only delivered once but twice.  His verse should have been excluded, for it does not blend well with the song.

3.  PUT YO’ HANDS UP
“Put Yo’ Hands Up” contains a replay of “I’ve Been Pushed Aside” performed by McFadden and Whitehead.

Finally, after two pretty good/mediocre tracks, “Put Yo’ Hands Up” delivers that hotness from Bone.  The telling and energetic beat at the start clearly depicts the vibe the song would bring, including the devilish voice that appears on a few Bone albums.

Featured on the first-leg of the chorus, Thin C (along with Layzie) does a nice job followed by F.I.S-T who is featured on the second-leg of the chorus with his rough, commanding voice: “Now, put them hands up, don’t you put ‘em down / Bone’s in the place / Dog, we about to clown / Listen up close, so you can hear it now / Where the Henny at? / Ni..a, f..in’ smoke a pound.”

Such energetic beat and introduction would get any artist’s temperature boiling enough to bring out the heat – and Bone does that with no problem.  Layzie starts out with a tight verse which addresses the biters/clones, including a brief indirect mention of problematic member Bizzy Bone: “Give a damn about … that won’t man-up; Layzie, Krayzie, Big Wish and Flesh, Bone Thugs, yeah … that’s us…”

Krayzie, who delivers the second verse, comes in with a nice flow and blistering lyrics; his verse is amazing from start to finish – and lively.  He remains on the subject of clones and tells a little story that he remembers which clearly bothered him:  “I was sittin’ back chillin’ one day, just kickin’ it, listenin’ to the radio (Radio) / Had to stop and turn it up a little mo’ ‘cause I … heard Layzie flow / So I turned it up and lit my burner up, but oh no to my surprise, it was some other … flippin’ their tongue, and they remind me of Bone the way they harmonize…”  Later in his verse, he combatively tells the clones to stay off the Bone style, for it is not flattering.

Wish does the honor and closes out the song with a decent Wish-like verse, sharing his sentiments in regard to the group:  “Better show the Bone love / When you see us, better throw them twos up / If you act right, we’ll love ya; disrespect us, we’ll cut ya…”

The overall feeling to “Put Yo’ Hands Up” is good and the members come correct, especially Krayzie with his quick and fiery verse.

4.  WRONG VS. RIGHT
“Wrong vs. Right” contains a sample of “Love and Happiness” performed by Al Green.

This song flows with a smooth rhythm that collides with Bone’s aggressive lyrics, but it comes out pretty nice.  The theme of the song concerns their past hardships that drive evil thoughts and the hustling mentality.  The chorus says it perfectly:  (Krayzie) “It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder” / (other voice) “something that make you do wrong, make you do right.”  With 37 seconds left in the track, a bass-guitar soloist does a great job and the song fades out with the chorus.

5.  HUSTLA
“Hustla” is a hardcore song that only features Krayzie and Layzie.  This track has an eerie atmosphere and shows the thug side of Bone accompanied with gun-clacking lyrics.

Krayzie, who occupies verse one, seems to be in a compromising position (at a corner store) after he reaches his street quota, so he calls up his Bone brother Layzie on the phone for assistance.  And yes, Layzie brings the heat lyrically and powerfully.  “Hustla” is a tight track and a nice duet by Krayzie and Layzie, but it’s overly short at 2 minutes and 46 seconds.

6.  THUG-A-TONE (U-Neek’s Medley)
“Thug-A-Tone,” which is not a song but rather a medley, is simply uninteresting.  The beat plays as Layzie and K-Ci come in occasionally and sing/chant a few things.  This medley serves as a dry outro track.

Like stated in the opening, tracks 7, 8, and 9 are radio versions (clean versions) of “Playa,” “Playing The Game,” and “Put Yo’ Hands Up.”

The following tracks are bonus snippets from Bone’s affiliate:  Lil’ Chico of ThugLine appears on track 10; Keef G of ThugLine appears on track 11; Bruce Hatchcock of U-Neek Entertainment appears on track 12; Felicia of Mo Thugs appears on track 13; and Kneight Riduz of ThugLine appears on track 14.  None of these bonus snippets are of any significance except for Bruce Hatchcock’s; he’s very talented.

Moreover and interestingly, this CD is enhanced with embedded footages – real raw footages.  In fact, it contains a volatile (one-sided profanity-laced) conversation between Bone Brothers Layzie and Bizzy, showing Layzie screaming with anger at Bizzy over the phone, while Bizzy remains subdued.  It also shows Layzie playful side as he dances.  A few no-name Bone affiliates get some screen time by poking their heads into the camera professing their name.  The running time is 12 minutes and 49 seconds.

For Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s fans, this enhanced CD is worth getting.  For others, it is not a must-have, but it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.  Because this CD has limited mainstream exposure, it is very hard to find; however, it can be found through a couple of Internet sites.

Excluding the radio versions and bonus tracks, and only taking into account the first five songs of this EP Bone album, the record is pretty good.  It’s not outstanding but decent.  A respectable grade for such underground semi-album is a C, simply because the beats by DJ U-Neek are average and the features are weak.

***
[Originally published March 27, 2008 on now-defunct Examiner.com]

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