Let's just lay it on the line, in a language everyone can understand: BTNHResurrection is a pretty good album. The Cleveland clan's impressive, hyper-raps are still second to none (even after a flood of imitators including Dr. Dre and Eminem's "Forgot About Dre"), and their R&B-fused tunes are just hip-hop enough to satisfy both audiences. If you liked their previous three albums, you'll certainly find much to love here, and that includes people, God bless 'em, who still think their last outing, 1997's bloated double-CD, The Art of War, was groovy even though they probably haven't given either disc a spin in ages.
On the other hand, if you think Layzie, Krayzie, Flesh, Wish and Bizzy's gangsta-centric, sing-songy, quick-lipped style has all but ruined hip-hop for an entire generation, there really isn't anything here that will change your mind. A number of revolutions have occurred in hip-hop since '97 turntablism, Latin rap, gangsta-with-a-conscience-rap, sampling of Broadway musicals, the Roots goin' platinum and winning a freaking Grammy but you certainly can't tell that from this album. Produced by LT Hutton, DJ U-Neek, Jimmy "JT" Thomas and Darren Vegas, BTNHResurrection continues the group's sample-free, soulful-yet-haunted sound. The title refers to the fact that the group's members have united again after several solo efforts but it also may refer to the fact that they've been resurrected from the remember-when-we-all-went-crazy-for-Bone-Thugs X-file.
Even if you're not a huge fan of their style, you've got to admire their skill. It's one thing to sing. It's one thing to rap. It's another to rap veryvery fast. To combine all three is something amazing to hear, and such moments occur on "Servin' tha Fiends" (RealAudio excerpt), "Mind on Our Money" and "Resurrection (Paper, Paper)." As with every BTNH album, though, eventually things wear thin, and you begin to feel as if you're catching the act of a one-trick pony, as the sameness of the songs often causes things to blur together.
Still, there are some stand-out tracks. BTNH try to cure hip-hop's post-Chronic creative rut with "Ecstasy" (RealAudio excerpt), a steamy ode to the lovesexy drug of the same name. On a more serious tip (as ever, one of the group's strong points), "Change the World" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Can't Give It Up" find the boys in R&B mode, doing what they can to implore the listener to make everyone's lives a little bit better through kindness and sacrifice. And the group's professed love of R&B and illicit substances pops up in "The Weed Song," which, musically at least, could pass a blindfold test as a 1970s Philly-soul love song.
Is this album, then, a case of reunited-and-it-feels-so-good? Not quite. But it does exude a comfort level that might put a smile on your face and a groove in your step not to mention a few zeros to the right of the decimal point on your stopwatch.