NEW YORK — Fans of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony can stop rubbing their eyes in disbelief — Wish, Layzie, Bizzy and Krayzie have indeed settled their differences and are coexisting in, well, harmony.
Not only that, but the woman who they once referred to as the Black Widow — Tomica Wright, the wife of the late Eazy-E and head of their label, Ruthless Records — is riding for her once disgruntled act.
"Even if I were not a part of this project, I would buy this album and not feel disappointed," she said Wednesday night before previewing their October 29 release, Thug World Order, for a handful of people at the Sony Building.
Replete with schoolboy harmonizing, rhymes that flow faster than Ben Johnson on steroids, and talk of bad marijuana, life in the ghetto and guns that blaze like four-alarm fires, the Cleveland foursome affirm their return on the album while insisting they didn't go anywhere.
"How many people you know get down like this/ But still harmonize like the Temptations"? Wish Bone asks on "Guess Who's Back." Produced by Organized Noize, the track incorporates a down South bounce motif, indicative of the production troupe's Atlanta origins. Later in the song, the rapid rhyming armada profess to be "the thugs with the wickedest rhymes."
Some of the album's most nefarious lines come via the song simply titled "Gangsta Sh--." "If a n---a talkin' sh--, we gonna wipe his mouth," Wish warns, while the rest of his rap clan bring the listeners into the crossfire of wars on the street.
They quickly move from battles on the concrete to clashes in the courtroom. The members of Bone Thugs aren't trying to take care of any kids that aren't their own and aren't afraid to take paternity tests in their defense. "Ain't mine, not mine," they chant on "Not My Baby." Later in the song, a child repeatedly asks, "Mommy, where's my daddy?"
Obviously, Bone won't be claiming any young'uns without putting up a fight, but they have no problems affirming their allegiance to their brother, Layzie Bone's real blood sibling Flesh-N-Bone.
"A Thug Soldier Conversation," which closes out the album, is a phone conversation with Flesh, who's serving an 11-year sentence for threatening a friend with an AK-47 (see "UPDATE: Flesh-N-Bone Gets 11 Years In Assault Case"). On "Conversation," the incarcerated rapper says his biggest need is to hold his wife and "kick it" with his babies. He also says that once he gets out, he's "going straight to work."
Bone had more than a conversation with R&B's most thugged out legend, Bobby Brown. They recorded a song with him called "I'm Bone," but it didn't make the cut (see "Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Get Bobby Brown For LP, Claim He's 'Like Tupac'"). Wright said the collaboration may end up on a later album.
Phil Collins' vocals, however, will be featured on Thug World Order. "Home," which touches on social issues and spirituality, uses the same beat as the singer's "Take Me Home" and samples the chorus from the original.
3LW help Bone to stop being complacent with mediocrity on the album's first single, "Get up and Get It," which has been getting airplay on some radio stations. Despite 3LW's recent internal conflict (see "3LW Become 2LW: Naturi Says She's Out Of Group"), Wright said Bone Thugs are going to shoot a video for the song in the next couple of weeks. There's no word on whether members of 3LW will be featured.