The title to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's 2007 comeback album, Strength & Loyalty, must be a reference to their fans. Despite handing in some forgettable efforts, emptying fans' wallets with too many solo and side projects, and promising new product and not delivering repeatedly, Bone always got a pass from faithful. Strength & Loyalty is also too heavy a title for an album so light and slick. Big names like Mariah Carey, Akon, the Game, Swizz Beatz, and Twista all command their tracks, unknowingly stealing from a group that used to be instantly identifiable because of their unique sound and style. This 2007 edition of Bone is missing members Flesh-N-Bone (thanks to incarceration) and Bizzy Bone (thanks to his being Bizzy Bone) and it shows. As a trio Krayzie, Layzie, and distant third Wish are a solid crew, able to deliver good weekend numbers like "Bump in the Trunk," "Lil Love," and "C-Town" (they never forget Cleveland) along with polished gangsta tracks like "I Tried." In the big picture, Bizzy and Flesh are missed, but what's remarkable about Strength & Loyalty is how it makes the listener forget they're missing while in the moment. Numerous melodious hooks in the easy-rolling Bone tradition fog the memory, and guest stars are brought in at just the right moments. Mariah speaks to the commercial possibilities Bone always had, while the Game speaks to how they seemed to never leave the streets. Every song is at least solid and the album flows very well, making it one of the better-built efforts from the house of Bone in nearly a decade. Problem is, this album could have twice the star power and it wouldn't make up for how important Bizzy's strange voice was for the overall chemistry. Strength & Loyalty doesn't overcome its challenges; it just sidesteps them and works hard to reward fans for a decade of patience. It's as good as it can be, and better than expected.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Swizz Beatz
feat: Yolanda Adams