Album Review: New Waves (June 2017) by Bone Thugs (Krayzie Bone & Bizzy Bone)

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With more than 30 solo albums combined, Krayzie Bone and Bizzy Bone (recognized by many as the best members) of multi-platinum-selling rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony teamed up to release a duet album entitled New Waves on June 23, 2017 under the name Bone Thugs. While promoting the album, Krayzie and Bizzy made it clear on several occasions via interviews that their forthcoming album would not be the typical Bone Thugs-N-Harmony sound, for they were pursuing a different avenue musically and experimenting with different productions that would yield a modern sound. In one interview conducted by ThisIs50.com, published on its YouTube channel on May 5, 2017, Krayzie makes that clear:

“This album, like I tell everybody, if you think you’re finna go buy a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony album, then that’s not what you gonna get … because this is something different. We’re from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, but we’re trying a different approach. This is more of an upbeat album, not like Bone like where you get the more dark, eerie feel …”

In other words, Krayzie and Bizzy were looking to deliver a commercial album to grab the attention of non-Bone fans – and that is exactly what they accomplished with New Waves.

1. Coming Home (feat. Stephen Marley)
Released as the first single on March 24, 2017 and followed with a music video on May 8, 2017, “Coming Home” represents a pleasant-sounding song that presents a smooth production by Damizza, Avedon, and Clifford Golio. The content of the song concentrates on home and how it will always be the base, despite relocation and necessary travels – a theme that many can relate to if life circumstances have caused relocation to a different city, state, or even country.

The track features a verse by each member but fails to hit the 3-minute mark. Despite the shortness (which seems to be an issue throughout the album), everyone does a good job and delivers a good song. Krayzie vocalizes the first verse nicely with his smoothness and glamorizes about how his city of Cleveland, the place he was born and raised, will always be home because that is origin of his existence. Likewise, Bizzy share similar sentiments by vocalizing his struggles on the streets of Cleveland and how Bone, as a whole, will never forget its root. Stephen Marley blesses the chorus with his singing and comes correct.

2. If Heaven Had a Cellphone (feat. Tank)
Released as the second single on June 9, 2017 in conjunction with a music video, “If Heaven Had a Cellphone” proposes a heavenly question and the action one would take if he or she could connect with a lost loved one (or anyone) in heaven through a cellphone. Backed with a mid-tempo production, this track sounds really nice and presents the usual quick-flow delivery from Krayzie and Bizzy, both of whom delivered a single verse. R&B singer Tank complements the two verses and does a great job passionately singing the chorus, which appropriately fades as the song ends.

In reference to the theme of heaven, this track has “Tha Crossroads” ambiance. After the major success of Grammy Award-winning song “Tha Crossroads,” which sold millions as a single subsequent to its release in 1995, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s major albums have always featured a single (along with a music video) that had a similar vibe as if the record labels were trying to reproduce “Tha Crossroads.” For example, Art of War (1997) produced “If I Could Teach the World,” BTNHResurrection (2000) produced “Change The World,” Thug World Order (2002) produced “Home” feat Phil Collins, Strength & Loyalty (2007) produced “I Tried,” and Uni5: The World’s Enemy (2010) produced “Meet Me In The Sky.”

The aforementioned tracks are superior; however, “If Heaven Had a Cellphone” can be placed in the same category, not in regard to content but in regard to the ambiance that it exudes.

3. Good Person (feat. Joelle James)
As soon as this remarkably tranquil music by producer Avedon begins to play, with the amazing voice of Joelle James, one emotion instantly came to mind: this song could be special – and goodness, special it is. “Good Person” sounds terrific and begins with an appealing chorus:

“Am I a good person / or is it something I’m telling myself to sleep at night? / Please say I’m worth it / ‘cause these demons are not letting go of my crippled mind.”

Krayzie melodically vocalizes his verse like a surgeon and manipulates his style to perfectly align with the beat. Bizzy, with his unmatched voice, glides his words like a sword that cuts through fine silk cloth. Joelle James, who executes the chorus, captivates the soul with her voice.

This track pours out a mellow vibe that strikes the eardrums in all the right places. If it were not for its shortness, it would have been flawless. On a scale of 1 to 10, “Good Person” receives a 9.5.

(I personally had this track on repeat for about 30 minutes after listening to the album.)

4. Fantasy (feat. Jesse Rankins)
Released as the third single on June 16, 2017 and accompanied with a music video, “Fantasy” represents an energetic funk song. This song wreaks a mawkish feel and borderlines corniness to some degree. There are many songs produced in the genre of funk that sound great, but this does not represent one of them. The chorus by Jesse Rankins sounds horrible – not to mention the overall sound of the song. In fact, Jesse Rankins sounds like Cee-Lo Green. If this song did not reveal the feature, majority of people who initially hear the song would think it features Cee-Lo Green, and that is not a hyperbole.

Despite such horrendous song, many people will enjoy its funkiness because it presents a party atmosphere that could be played in any festivity such as a club, a birthday party, a wedding reception, and the like. For that reason, it deserves a thumbs up. Commercially speaking, “Fantasy” could have been a hit had it featured Cee-Lo Green or even a talented artist like Bruno Mars – simply because they are famous artists and have a large fan base. One of their presences alone (specifically Bruno Mars) would have facilitated more views and attention.

5. That Girl (feat. Kaci Brown)
The title of “That Girl” speaks for itself: the theme concentrates on a girl (i.e., a lost girlfriend) whom they wish to reconnect with and regain that love. Moreover, the verses in some part praise and show love to women. The wish to reconnect with a lost love is solidified as Krayzie repeats the latter part of his first verse (after Bizzy’s verse) to show how badly he wants his love. Featured artist Kaci Brown sings well and sounds nice on the chorus. That said, there is nothing exciting to say about this song, for it does not spark any moving emotions. It’s a subdued track but not a thrilling one – and comes off as bland.

However, one message that can be extracted from “That Girl” is obvious: If a man is in a relationship and “that girl” leaves for whatever reason – and he truly believes that she is/was the one – then he should do everything in his power without comprising his self-worth and morals to regain that love. The same message can be shared for a woman who breaks up with her man.

6. Let It All Out (feat. Jazze Pha)
“Let It All Out” makes a strange appearance and sounds out of place, considering the fact that Krayzie (who delivers a nice verse) appears in the opening for 30 seconds and vanishes, while Jazze Pha takes over throughout; Bizzy is not featured. This song, actually, sounds like a Jazze Pha song that features Krayzie. If one enjoys upbeat music that features an artist screaming in conjunction with uninteresting lyrics, then he/she will enjoy this. In totality, this song is horrible and represents a filler track.

7. Waves (feat. Layzie Bone, Wish Bone & Flesh-n-Bone)
From uninteresting to pure satisfaction, “Waves,” which features all five members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, represents an attention-grabbing melody that serves as a stimulant to one’s ears. Unsurprisingly, Krayzie opens with an amazing laid-back/harmonizing flow, where he sings in part: “I love this new wave that we’re on right, can we vibe can we vibe?” There is no question regarding likability, for most people will undeniably vibe to this song. It features Bone’s signature laid-back, harmonious, and quick-tongue ingredients, which all collide seamlessly to create a great song. Producer Scott Storch deserves a notable mention for crafting an incredible beat.

8. Whatever Goes Up (feat. Jonathan Davis of Korn)
“Whatever Goes Up” has a semi-rock feel to it, which is appropriate since it features Jonathan Davis of nu metal group Korn on the chorus. It typifies a satisfactory song that will hold the attention of some and dismay others who are not fond of this style of music.

9. Cocaine Love (feat. Bun B & Jesse Rankins)
“Cocaine Love” opens with a few words by Bizzy regarding deplorable women who manipulate men:

“You better never take them panties off this bitch. She’s a blind man’s drug, baby – a hustler’s nightmare. Men sell their souls for one …. She’s known to snatch your spirit out your chest and release you to the dirt from which you come from. Son, you better never take them panties off this bitch.”

Basically, this song concentrates on women (metaphorically, a deadly drug) who may have ulterior motives and take advantage of men via manipulation, which can leave men in a bad position. Yes, she may be attractive and lovely, but her spirit may be wicked and deadly. Women are no doubt men’s biggest enticement and weakness – and this track tells men to be careful, because that temptation may lead to a disastrous outcome.

The message in “Cocaine Love” comes through and the verses by Krayzie, Bizzy and Bun B make that obvious, including the chorus by Jesse Rankins. However, the overall vibe does not break through as memorable.

10. Bad Dream (Feat. Iyaz)
The theme of disgraceful behavior by women continues in “Bad Dream” with candid lyrics. Unlike “Cocaine Love,” which warns men to be cautious, “Bad Dream” holds nothing back and viciously attack foul women with profanity and unpleasant language.

Backed with a subdued beat in the opening, Krayzie starts the song conversing with a woman after waking up from a nightmarish dream: “I had a real bad dream last night, but at least I thought it was a bad dream. But then when I woke … I was laid up next to you, I realize it was that bad dream come true.” Thereafter, the music simultaneously transitions into an up-tempo beat as Krayzie jumps into his verse and makes it clear that he does not entertain conceited women, the “fake hoes,” the “stink hoes,” the “jezebel” and would “rather talk to [him]self” and “walk by [him]self” to avoid any problems in a relationship.

The notable chorus comes in with the following: “I had a bad dream last; you were standing in a different light. When I touch my eyes to wake up, they were open all along; now I’m shaked up. Bad dream, bad dream.” Special is one word that describes this chorus.

Like Krayzie, Bizzy’s verse goes off viciously – but in a more demeaning manner with language such “cokehead slut” and other vulgar language that focuses on a woman that may have done and/or treated him badly through betrayal.

“Bad Dream” does not typify a great song, but it’s okay. One element that strongly shines is the chorus. The chorus gleams with a nice execution by Iyaz; its amazingly catchy melody will definitely have many repeating it from time to time after one listen.

11. Gravity (feat. Yellawolf)
The production of “Gravity” has a lot of clamoring instruments, which makes it strangely interesting. The verses in succession by Krayzie, featured artist Yellawolf, and Bizzy are good, but it does not have a remarkable replay presence. Nonetheless, “Gravity” represents a tolerable song that one could listen to here and there without pressing the skip button when it appears on the playlist. The female singer, believed to be Shaunice Jones, does a nice job executing the chorus.

12. Bottleservice
The only song on the album that does not feature an artist, “Bottleservice” represents an up-tempo, happy-filled party song. It’s conceivable to pass by a club and hear this track loudly blasting while club-goers are crazily dancing, drinking and having a great time. Rather than getting high with weed, Krayzie and Bizzy want to get high with alcohol as Krayzie melodically vocalizes: “We’re just trying to fly through the sky, come let’s float; we’re trying to stay high rise way higher than most, rise way higher than most.”

Again, as mentioned prior, if one enjoys upbeat club music, then he/she will find this track appealing. If one does not enjoy club music, then he/she will not find it enjoyable.

13. Change the Story (feat. Uncle Murda)
“Change the Story,” an upcoming single that has a corresponding music video, touches on dead souls – a theme that Bone members in general have always touched on in their songs. Unlike “If Heaven Had a “Cellphone,” which concentrates on speaking to dead souls in heaven, this song wishes it could change the outcome of one’s demise and hope he or she was still presently living. Unsurprisingly, Krayzie delivers on the chorus as usual with his rawness. The verses by Krayzie and Bizzy are enjoyable and well executed.

Uncle Murda, on the other hand, sounds out of place and does not blend well with neither Krayzie nor Bizzy. Moreover, his rapping style does not complement the nice production by Avedon. While the styles of Krayzie and Bizzy present a serene approach, Uncle Murda’s flow presents a harsh tone. If he had elevated his verse and delivery, the song would be much better.

14. Ruthless (feat. Layzie Bone, Flesh-n-Bone & Eric Bellinger)
“Ruthless” stands as a robust track that pours out a fervent message of support for a loved one that is going through hardships. The amazing chorus says it perfectly:

“When the world has you cornered / and you can’t make a way / ‘cause time is growing shorter / not much more you can take / and oh when they’re gunnin’ with you in their sights / I’ll be your fighter, I’ll be ruthless for you / I’ll be your fighter, I’ll be ruthless for you.”

Lyrically and stylistically, Krayzie, Bizzy, Layzie and Flesh deliver noteworthy performances – not to mention Eric Bellinger who passionately croons the touching hook. “Ruthless” is so smooth throughout that it will capture most listeners’ attention once the song begins and after it ends.

15. Don’t Let Go (feat. Rico Love) Album Bonus Track
The album ends with another happy-thumping, upbeat, positive-thinking song that delivers the following message: love life, live freely, refrain from troubles, avoid negativity, enjoy every moment and opportunity – and never take life for granted, for each person has one life to live. “Don’t Let Go” represents another track that could be played at a party.

16. My Way (feat. DB Bantino) Digital Bonus Track
A nice bonus, “My Way” can only be obtained through digital download. Excluding the horrendous chorus by DB Bantino, which sounds like the current nauseating style adopted by many rap artists today, Bizzy and Krayzie deliver a hardcore, fast-spitting performance that will instantly grab the attention of long-time Bone Thugs-N-Harmony fans. The energy, the flow, the production, and the execution are on point. Krayzie and Bizzy definitely bring the heat. “My Way” could have been special, if not for the chorus. It’s hard to listen to such style of rapping from the current “hip-hop/rap artist” and not be turned off and disgusted. Nonetheless, it represents a very good song. Knowing the Bone community, an edit of the song – with the exclusion of the chorus – is probably floating around somewhere on YouTube.

Being that this is a bonus digital track and does not fit with the core sound of the album, it’s a pleasure that Krayzie, Bizzy, and their team decided to offer this rather than keeping it under wraps in a vault somewhere.

As expected, the album delivers something different and features various genres of music such as funk, R&B, techno, pop-rap, electronic and other forms. The overall sound can be characterized as friendly, upbeat, and feel-good.

New Waves is not groundbreaking, but it is a decent listen.

That said, the album presents two main issues: the brevity of songs and the overwhelming features throughout.

In regard to brevity, 9 songs (including the bonus track) on the album are less than 3 minutes. Out of those nine songs, “Coming Home,” “If Heaven Had a Cellphone,” ‘Good Person,” which are all noteworthy fall in that category. If these songs were longer, it could have propelled them to another level. It is also important to mention that both Krayzie and Bizzy deliver one verse on each song (excluding “That Girl” where Krayzie repeats the latter part of his verse, and the absence of Bizzy in “Let It All Out”). This tactic is unusual. Moreover and shockingly, the album does not feature a back-and-forth harmonious connection between Krayzie and Bizzy; instead, the songs are executed with a verse-chorus-verse-chorus motif.

In regard to features, the album features an artist on every song, with the exception of “Bottleservice,” another approach that is uncommon. Because of this, the duet-album label stands questionable, because it feels like a collaboration album and not a true duet album. Make no mistake, some of the features are great (e.g., Joelle James, Tank, Eric Bellinger, Stephan Marley, and Iyaz), but the bombardment of features can not go unnoticed.

As a whole, New Waves has some good songs, but the long-term replay value may be questioned. Will some enjoy the album from start to end? Yes. If one enjoys dance music, club music, electronic music, disco music that have an upbeat feel to it, then he or she will certainly enjoy the album. If one does not fancy such style of music, then he/she will enjoy a few songs on the album. The album produced enough styles for anyone to select a single song or multiple songs that are enjoyable.

If people can enjoy trash music from the likes of Migos, Future, Young Thug, Lil Yachty and all the current artist that share the same rapping motif, then there is no reason whatsoever for them not to enjoy this album, for it is musically better – and features two legendary artists who are actually rapping/singing rather than talking and mumbling their gums on beats.

Nonetheless, the songs that are memorable are as follows: “Waves,” “Good Person,” “If Heaven Had a Cellphone,” “Coming Home,” “Ruthless,” and “My Way.” From this list, “Good Person” stands firm as the best song on the album.

In closing, New Waves is not a bad album or a great album; it falls in the middle as a decent album with some good tracks. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s manager Steve Lobel should be applauded for bringing Krayzie Bone and Bizzy Bone together to deliver an album that thumps a different sound.

On a letter-grade scale, New Waves receives a deserving C grade; commercially, it receives an A because they accomplished the sound they were pursuing that will grab listeners who are not the long-standing Bone Thugs-N-Harmony fans.