Bone Thugs-N-Harmony


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You don't have to look much farther than T.H.U.G.S. to see why fans complain about Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's quality control department. This set of "13 new songs" -- that's what the sticker Ruthless put on initial pressings declared -- is filled with titles that are familiar to Bone-loving message-board trollers and Internet traders, but somewhere along the way from leak to official release, the beats changed, often for the worse. Most everything seems to come from 2003 or so, a time when the Bone and Ruthless relationship was falling apart and two years before unpredictable member Bizzy was dismissed from the group. Hearing Bizzy's free-form rhyming and strange delivery during this turbulent time is interesting and a handful of cuts feature memorable lyrics and/or that prime Bone interplay, but there's an overall feeling that the music is unfinished, or maybe even finished years later by someone outside the Bone organization. Take the amateurish beat on "Sweet Jane," which is a serious step down from the leaked version, or "Wildin'," where the music and lyrics just refuse to connect. Sounds like someone pitched down the vocals for both "I'm Bone" and "So Many Places" so they would match the music, but worst of all is the dramatic title cut, which serves as a six-minute meandering intro with almost no vocals. It's a shame this iffy odds-and-ends collection appeared the same year as Bone's major-label comeback, Strength & Loyalty. Luckily, longtime fans have already been trained on how to approach the group's fringe releases, and will lower their expectations accordingly.

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