In regards to Uni5 that is.
A lot of it has to do with the fact that they went independent. A lot of it has to do with the things I've heard them say about "Strength & Loyalty".
When Bone releases big time, mainstream albums, we get "Creepin' On Ah Come Up", "E. 1999 Eternal", "The Art of War", and "Strength & Loyalty".
When they release low budget, independent albums, we get "Thug Stories", "Bone 4 Life", and anything attached to the name Caz.
I also think that Interscope was the only thing that stopped "Strength & Loyalty" from being a disaster. People say the album was mainstream like it's a bad thing, and as if Bone hasn't been mainstream before Bone has always been mainstream.
"Creepin' On Ah Come Up" was straight west coast gangsta rap, which in 1994 when the album came out, was all that mainstream rap was. "E. 1999 Eternal" had mainstream hits like "1st of Tha Month", and let's not even get started on "Tha Crossroads". "Days of Our Livez" was a big time mainstream hit. They had big mainstream collaborations with "Notorious Thugs", and "Breakdown". "The Art of War" had some mainstream style songs with "If I Could Teach The World", and the biggest hit from the album, "Thug Luv". Even "BTNHResurrection" had "Paper, Paper", "Can't Give It Up", and "Change The World".
Mainstream is simply put, part of Bone's style. What separates them, however, is by them putting their own twist on mainstream music, which they've done on all their successful albums. There's only really 2 songs on "Strength & Loyalty" which are straight mainstream songs without the Bone sound, and those are "Lil' Love" and "Candy Paint". Everything else on that album has some kind of Bone vibe to it.
But listening to the stuff that they wanted to do? Tracks like "When The Thugs Come Out", "Bone Thug Boys", and pretty much every unreleased cut that's not "Into The Future" or "Never Been Industry" is some type of generic garbage that sounds just like everything else that's out by everyone else, and not even as good. There's a few good tracks, "I Ain't Satisfied", "So Crazy", "Click Clack", and "Certified Thug", but none of those really have a Bone sound to 'em. It's really the same generic garbage that came off of "Bone 4 Life" and "Thug Stories".
Bone don't seem to like each other anymore. With Layzie's stated "desires" for what he wanted "Strength & Loyalty" to be, I really don't trust his judgment to 1.) Make good music, and 2.) Make the right selections for a good album. The first clip that we've heard already, the "Nuff Respect" clip, it's decent, but it falls right back down into the same "generic" trend Bone's music has been going into as of late, when they are independent and not signed to a big label.
I trust Krayzie Bone, he seems to still have the heart. He seems to put his all into his craft. Even though he's not my favorite, I even have faith in Flesh. I think he'll put in his all as well.
But Bizzy fell off a long time ago, and I don't know if he's going to get it back. I hope he does. Layzie I just don't trust anymore. I think he's more worried about fitting in with the crowd than being innovative.
It's just something I've been thinking about lately. I just don't have the same faith in this album that I once had. The moment they went independent, I think I realized they didn't really care about making this album epic, andhigh quality, but rather just pushing something out with the Bone name on it. By being independent, they can have the freedom they want to be something they aren't, which is what they seem to do when they are indie is to make music that isn't Bone Thugs music.
Hopefully, come March when this first single releases, I'll be proven wrong. Hopefully it will have a strong Bone vibe to it, and hopefully it will be a big radio hit. And then come June, hopefully the album becomes one of Bone's most definitive albums, which is what I think this album should be, given the historical context of this album to Bone's career. Not just some afterthought that the mainstream Hip Hop world (and music world in general) can just ignore as a nothing release.