Mo Thugs Family
Mo Thugs Family Scriptures Chapter II: Family Reunion (Mo Thugs/Relativity Records)
When a new album is released off Mo Thugs Records, it's a major event; considering how long it took for A New Breed Of Female and Trials And Tribulations to be released. Moreover, it is now June 1998 and there is yet to be an official release date for Still Waters by Graveyard Shift. However, although a Mo Thugs Records release is a rare occurence, it is usually worth the wait and Family Reunion is no different.
Although long-time Bone Thugs~N~Harmony fans will lament that Bone has "gone soft" after hearing Family Reunion, one must remember that this is a collaboration of various artists and not just an album filled with rapid fire tales of thuggery and thievery. In fact, R&B artists have a chance to display their talents on the albums 16 tracks. Yet there is no mistaking that this album has been graced by the always platinum talents of Bone Thugs~N~Harmony, notably by the talents of member Krayzie Bone, who produced 5 of the tracks on the album and is featured as a guest rapper/singer on 5 others. Layzie Bone also dabbles in the area of production on "Otherside", a 10 minute long opus of rapping, singing and shouting out to friends and labelmates. Wish Bone and Flesh~N~Bone are also featured on the album as well, with Bizzy Bone being the only thug missing in action due to recording his 2CD solo release scheduled for late July. Mo Thugs Family "veterans" II Tru, Poetic Hustlaz, Souljah Boy, Ken Dawg and Graveyard Shift make an appearance throughout the album; and most often, produce the tracks that they rap/sing on. Joining them are the Mo Thugs "rookies": MT5, a five member male R&B group; Potion, a female R&B duo; rappers Powder P, Thug Queen and Scant; and a DJ named Ice.
After the compulsory "intro track" that seems to find its way on 90% of all CDs anymore, Family Reunion starts off strong with "Mighty Mighty Warrior", an energetic song performed by Wish Bone, Thug Queen, Souljah Boy, Krayzie Bone and Felecia for the sole purpose of letting everyone know what the Mo Thugs Family is all about. Next, the rapping and production talents of Souljah Boy are spotlighted on "Mighty Mo Thug", a song that features a verse by Layzie Bone, incredible voice control on the part of Souljah Boy and a beat that will surely get you pumped. After that, Scant, Layzie Bone's cousin, offers "Heart Of It"--a song that takes the state motto of Ohio, "The heart of it all", and uses it to describe Mo Thugs. The chorus, "Bone got the brain power, Mo Thug got the muscle", is perfectly aligned with the sensual voice of Felecia singing "the heart of it all, the heart of it all". Other noteworthy tracks are "All Good", a duet by Krayzie Bone and Felecia that covers the intricacies and challenges of relationships; "Ghetto Cowboy", a comedic "cowboy story" done by Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Thug Queen and Powder P, repslendent with a beat that features a harmonica for a western feel; and "Ain't Said No Names", a take-no-prisoner song bustin back on all clones and haters that remain anonymous throughout.
The highlight of the CD is undoubtedly "Urban Souljah" by Graveyard Shift. Late last August, Mo Thugs fans mourned the tragic death of Graveyard Shift member Tombstone, leaving only group member Sin to carry on the group's name. However, before his death, Tombstone produced the track and rapped on "Urban Souljah". Arguably the best beat on Family Reunion, the adrenaline begins pumping the minute one hears ammunition rounds, whirling helicopter blades and a troop of soldiers marching in cadence. Then, Graveyard Shift begins the song with the chorus "High tech weapons everywhere we roll in the jungle, in the middle of the field a tumble, somebody gonna crumble while thugs rumble" when the beat kicks in with thundering bass, pianos and guitars that assault the eardrums like napalm. Throw in three verses about surviving in the urban jungle, containing knowledge and wisdom with a message that's deeply embedded and it's no doubt that the talents of Tombstone will be sorely missed. It's sad to think that a group that once featured 4 members has been whittled down to just one surving member, Sin, due to senseless, ignorant violence.
Although the CD is generally fantastic, it fails to please in a few instances. "U Don't Own Me", another song about relationships, this time featuring Krayzie Bone and Potion, is decent at best and leaves a lot to be desired. Another quip is that the chorus plays out too long at the end, an entire 3 minutes and 24 seconds to be exact. "Pimpin' Ain't Easy", a song that talks about the ins and outs of pimping from a female point of view, is equally lacking in substance--and in my opinion, is just plain and simply annoying. Finally, "Otherside", while a good song, spends the entire latter half of the song shouting out to all the Mo Thugs Family members--which is fun to listen to the first time you hear it but gets old by the third or fourth listening.
Family Reunion is a wonderful follow up to Family Scriptures. By joining together the older members of Mo Thugs Records with the newer members, Bone Thugs~N~Harmony has indeed collected more than their fair share of talent for their record label. Although female R&B group Tre has left Mo Thugs and Tombstone has passed on, there is plenty of talent still on Mo Thugs Records. It also deserves to be mentioned that it was pleasantly surprising to see that the CD was dedicated in the memory of Paul Anthony "Tombstone" O'Neal and his family. Indeed, as the chorus to "Heart Of It" points out, Bone does have the brain power and Mo Thugs does supply the muscle.