[28 February 2000]
Is it just me? OK, maybe I have just been living in the suburbs for too long. Maybe I am getting old. Or maybe only certain parts of the country realize that it’s the year 2001, and those parts realize that gangsta rap is all but over. That’s unfortunate though, because certain artists and labels continue to release “music” that caters to these consumers who haven’t heard about the untimely demise of the genre.
Ruthless Records, once home to the pioneers of gangsta rap, NWA, has recently released BTNHRESURRECTION, the latest collection of new material from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and as the hip-hop community used to say (circa 1992), ain’t a damn thing changed. You’d think that would be a good thing, sticking with an idea that works, no matter how annoying or ignorant it might be (you know, the boy-band theory). The thing is, times change, styles change, and subject matter gets old and tired really quick. For some of us, that is.
Then there is that section of the population that chooses to remain under the thick marijuana cloud that Dr. Dre created back in 1992 with his The Chronic CD (a hip-hop classic). These are the people who were apparently so high that they sent Layzie, Krayzie, Bizzy, Wish and Flesh’s 1994 debut EP Creepin’ on a Come Up (which contained the hit singles “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and Foe Tha Love of $”, a couple of nifty little songs that sing the praises of carrying and shooting guns, drinking, buying and selling drugs, smoking weed, and just general “thugging”) to double-platinum status. Obviously still buzzing over the next three years, this demographic continued to scarf down the groups follow-up LP’s. 1995’s E. 1999 Eternal, their most successful LP to date, sold over five million copies. It contained the cuts “E. 1999” (subject: drug dealing, smoking weed, killing, getting “paper” [slang for money], etc.), “1st of Tha Month” (subject: partying after welfare checks are cashed, drinking, smoking weed, drug dealing, etc.) and “Crossroads”, which won the 1996 Grammy award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group (subject: mourning the dead). This was followed by 1997’s double-disc The Art of War, which went four times platinum, and had subjects ranging from smoking weed, drinking, drug dealing, death, getting paper and killing. Do you notice a pattern here?
Apparently Ruthless Records didn’t notice the pattern. BTNHRESURRECTION is just more of the same old thing, with a more recent production date stenciled on the liner card. The music still sounds like recycled Dr. Dre beats, the boys are still mixing their sped-up, DAS-EFX influenced rhyme style with chipmunk-on-helium sounding psuedo-harmonies, and, of course, the subjects are all the same.
Titles include “Resurrection (Paper, Paper)”, the lead single, “2 Glocks”, “Murder One”, “Servin’ Tha Fiends”, and “Weed Song”, a ballad. Yep, a ballad called “Weed Song”. Catchy title, huh? With such eloquent lyrics as “If everybody smoked a blunt / Relieve the mind / The world could be a better place / If everybody took a break and we all just got wasted”, I can see why this group is so popular! Can’t you just smell the creativity? Or, is that weed? Or is it my sarcasm?
At one point, I thought I’d found a small light at the end of this gun and weed smoke-filled tunnel. The group did update their vices by introducing a new drug to their fans on the song “Ecstasy”. But alas, “Weed Song” comes six tracks after this one, much to the delight of all you thugs and thugettes out there, I’m sure.
In conclusion, BTNHRESURRECTION could have honestly been called BNTHRECYCLED. Relying on over-used subjects, beats and styles, this disc deserves absolutely no rotation, and is something of an insult to not only Bone’s hardcore fans, but to the music world as a whole. Next time, how about more creativity, and less laziness (or should that be layzie-ness)? How much weed can one group smoke? How many odes to weed can one group make? I probably shouldn’t have asked that, because it may wind up as the concept for their next disc. Me and my big mouth.