Krayzie Bone, from the Cleveland hip-hop posse Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, just released his fifth album, Chasing The Devil, on Friday (Nov. 20). By the looks of the cover art, it’s visually depicted as eschewing all the corrupt vices and plagues of this physical world, and with singles and song titles referencing the ongoing fight between good and evil, Chasing The Devil is sure to be an independent, rogue listening experience, right? Mostly, but maybe not for the whole runtime. Krayzie Bone is in fact genuinely concerned with the dreary path the human species is headed down and a good number of his verses coupled with the album’s emotionally moving score are solid, but some of the typical and traditional music methods used and the way Krayzie’s rapping time fights with his singing time both make for a somewhat resigned rap experience during which the essence and impact of his words lose some of their power to strike deep in the minds of listeners.
Krayzie Bone released his last album, Gemini: Good Vs. Evil, in 2005, and 2015 is actually not a bad year for Krayzie Bone to reenter the musical arena so to speak. He fits right on in with hip-hop’s new hybrid paradigm artist with his melodious soul-spilling tendencies, and what hip-hop fan isn’t interested in hearing the man’s new stuff after ten years without an official studio LP? Having said that, a synopsized rundown of the album’s innards is in order. Krayzie Bone starts by maintaining a healthy psyche and chugs along until he meets the devil (“The Devil’s Deal”), who gives him the option to sell his soul in exchange for the world at his fingertips, to which Krayzie accepts then later regrets. He continues on with his various other homilies, speaking against materialism, infidelity, and the trappings of the hip-hop music industry, and wraps it up with thoughts on the afterlife, gratitude for his down-homies and warning of the alluring serpentine nature of attractive women.
Those things are all well and good, but again, the messages’ potency tends to take a hit from Krayzie Bone’s gentle singing parts, and when he does rap, he arguably doesn’t always come with the hardest of rhyme-bars. His mindset and beliefs are definitely commendable though. His attitude is mature and awakened, and his head is in the right place, but when he starts with the heavenly father talk, his integrity as a neutral, secular truth-teller takes a beating, making him sound more like an early Bizzy Bone than a progressive nonreligious hip-hopper with an individual identity outside of the greater Bone Thugs collective. Still, the beats are enchanting, Krayzie’s versatile vocal range hasn’t been separated from his skill, talent and spirit as an artist, but for such loaded subject matter as can be found on Chasing The Devil, the necessary shock value to drive home the points is missing in some cuts. Krayzie Bone makes a strong showing here yet perhaps not one that would make him a front-running contender in present day hip-hop.