After making the sing-song cool for hip-hop (we won’t discuss whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing), Bone Thugs-N-Harmony seemed to implode. Now sans Bizzy Bone and Flesh-n-Bone, the Cleveland rappers are still hoping to rediscover the acclaim their group had achieved after releasing E 1999 Eternal in 1995. But Thug Stories has an often uninspired vibe and more lows than highs. This probably has to do with structure: the amped and cleverly-titled opener, “Intro,” is followed by a love song, and this pattern repeats throughout.
However, what’s saddest here (besides the absence of Bizzy and Flesh) is the often rudimentary choruses: the best of which are sorely lacking compared to those on “Crossroads” and “First of the Month.” This group’s style had created more room for hip-hop to move, and although Bone’s individuality still stands out on very real-sounding cautionary tales like “Thug Stories” and “Stand Not in Our Way,” the inconsistency is disappointing. It’s a competent album, but leagues below what Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is capable of.
Label: http://www.kochrecords.com/Audio: http://myspace.com/bonethugsnharmony