Bone Thugs N Harmony is one of those groups that you either love or hate. Their rapid fire flow and harmonized blends of vocals helped transport them to the top during the mid to late 90's and help draw a fanatical backing that still to this day have supported the group. For others though, the same things that made them a success is the same reasons why many hate Bone. As they always say, if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. Thus the problem with Bone Thugs career. Their ability to really never break through to the East Coast hurt their longevity in the game. While "Tha Crossroads" was a huge hit, beyond that New York City really never gave Bone the props they deserved.
Besides that, the group's constant turmoil and self destructive nature has also lead to the groups demise. Eve since Bone released "The Art Of War"; the whole group has never really been on the same page. Their reunion album of sorts "Resurrection" was a great return to the group's roots but was unfortunately overlooked in every aspect. Ruthless Records constant ability to never promote Bone in the right way has hurt them ever since Eazy died. And while Bone is one of the few groups who can say they have sold over 30 million records worldwide, they still seem like the dark horse of the industry. Now in 2002, Bone once again tries to rekindle their sounds of the past with their sixth album "Thug World Order". However, in an industry that has been known for its fickleness, does anybody still care about those 5 thugs from Cleveland?
While many will argue yes, mostly like the answer to that question is no, and unfortunately "Thug World Order" will not help their case. While it seems longer than 2 years since their last album, the sounds on "Thug World Order" are very different than those of albums past. Gone is the intensity and hunger from each emcee and most importantly gone is the great production of the past that used to provide an eerie atmosphere for Bone to feed off of.
The main problem with "Thug World Order" is the production aspect. On albums such as "Creepin On Ah Come UP" and "E1999. Eternal", in house producer DJ U-Neek had an uncanny ability of portraying the Bone sound perfectly with his sonic landscapes of production masterpieces. His dark eerie, almost to the point of sinister production used to provide the perfect atmosphere for Bone to vibe off of. And when Bone combines their dark image and production over harmonized vocals, the results used to be perfect. However, in 2002 all descriptions just mentioned are all but gone. DJ U-Neek still handles most of the production, but like most of the crew; his abilities have fallen of. Along with producers such as Armando Colon, The Platinum Brothers, Bosko and Alvin Clark among others, the production on "Thug World Order" is very bland, unoriginal and soft. Tracks such as the tiresome baby mama drama of "Not My Baby", "If I Fall", "Set It Straight" and "All The Way" featuring production that just doesn't fit the Bone Thugs style.
Bad hooks and boring concepts are also a big problem throughout "Thug World Order". As always, Bone dedicates at least one song to their favorite topic, weed. While most end up being spectacular mixes of harmony, "Bad Weed Blues" fall short of all expectations. Without a doubt their worst weed song, "Bad Weed Blues" mostly suffers from bad production that really never captivates your ear and only puts you to sleep. More bad concepts can been seen on the horrendous Organized Noize produced "Guess Who's Back". The cooker cutter sound of the track is truly Bones worst effort in their long career. However as mentioned, Bad hooks are also a big problem. Tracks such as "Bone, Bone, Bone", "All The Way", and "Pump, Pump" are all solid tracks, however you can tell not much thought was put into each tracks hook, as they are rather simple and boring.
While "Thug World Order" is filled with numerous problems, the album does have many great highlights. "What About Us" features Bone on a more political, socially uplifting vibe, addressing our current social situation and the problems plaguing our government. Layzie especially hits the topic head on with his verse claiming "What about the war they fighting on terrorism, what about the war against us". The two lead singles for the album "Get Up & Get It" featuring 3LW and "Money, Money" are both sure fir hits, but probably wont get the recognition they deserve thanks to Ruthless Records inability to promote, distribute and organize anything for Bone. "Get Up & Get It" is a more radio friendly sound than those of the past, but the track is able to stay true to the Bone vibe nevertheless. "Money, Money" is a success thanks to great production by Self. The tracks utilization of Dutch Robinson's "I Ain't Got Nothin" as a sample brings a more soulful vibe to the track. More solid tracks included on the album include "Cleveland Is The City" featuring Avant, "Pump, Pump" and "All The Way".
However, the true gem of "Thug World Order" comes from the Phil Collins sampled "Home". The DJ U-Neek and Krazie Bone produced track utilizes the Phil Collins sample of "Take Me Home", which is nothing short of brilliant. The track is truly one of Bone's finest work in years, as it is a route Bone should have gone more often for the album. No matter what type of Hip Hop you are into, give "Home" a quick listen and you will instantly appreciate the tracks production and sample used.
While there are a couple of solid efforts from Bone on "Thug World Order" the album ultimately feels forced. Diehard Bone fans expected sounds of old with definitely feel disappointed as "Thug World Order" is Bone's worst effort since their debut "Faces Of Death". Another key problem with the album is Krazie Bones influence. Ultimately, Krazie Bone plays too big of a role on the album. While he may be the group's most gifted member, there is no need for him to constantly control every song. He sings almost every tracks hook, starts off every track, and basically runs the show. Bone fans know that Krazie hasn't been the same since his glory days of "E1999 Eternal" and "Thug World Order" is proof of that. Bone fell into the same trap with "The Art Of War" when they got too repetitive with their tracks and sound. The same problem pops up with this release as the group needs more balance instead of it being the Krayzie Bone show. Other members Layzie, Bizzy and Wish continue to be predictable. Wish is still the group's weak link, while Layzie is the group's most solid member. Besides Krazie, Bizzy is the most disappointing on the album. All of his verses seemed rushed as he experiments with his flow for much of the album also. Only on "All The Way" do we get a glimpse of the Bizzy of old. Flesh is also missing in action on the album due to his jail sentence, which also hurts Bone.
In the end "Thug World Order" is a dead end album for Bone. Their constant internal struggles with themselves and their label have finally seemed to catch up with them. What will the future hold for Bone now? Unfortunately, it doesn't look bright. For how long can such an internal struggle go on before for the group is truly abandoned?