In sound and feel, Lyrical Paraphernalia -- Volume 3 of Krayzie Bone’s street album series, The Fixtape -- embodies some of the most resolute characteristics of not only his solo career, but of post-BTNHResurrection Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Consisting primarily of new spins on popular beats by other artists, the harmonic, rapid-fire flow with melodic, shifting cadences and an underlying spirituality ingrained since the group’s inception in 1991 is ever present throughout.
Opener, “Scrape The Block” finds the Cleveland, Ohio Emcee playing Robin Hood of the hood, kicking street logic over the beat from Cam’ron’s “Losin’ Weight.” Lines like “Harassing you / Just give me the cash or we gonna see what this here mag can do / When bullets advance at you” and “My warning shots produce victims” are not only a throwback to Krayzie’s Thug Mentality days, but are also the only overtly violent rhymes without reason on the album. With the exception of brief topical detours to opine on his unwillingness to be a sugar daddy (“Aint Gon Save Em”) and the inevitable complications that occur when a woman “Collapses [your] economy” (“Whatcha Gon Do”), the remainder of LP is heavily weighted in spirituality and introspection.
KB’s angst injected suicidal thoughts on “Suicide” are visceral enough to withstand it’s annoying hook and “One Life’s” depiction of a young man’s “decision to move with the criminals / Do what the killers do” and a young girl who’s “Thirteen going on her fourth abortion / No remorse for orphans” resonate enough to appreciate the track despite the fact that KB falls noticeably short of the standard Nas sets on the original version, “One Mic.”
“Hard To Let Go” is a solemn interlude-like cut leading into “What Have I Become (Troubled)” where Krayzie speaks to God, regretting the repercussions of the “struggle in the city life.” “I’m tired of being broke / Living with the poor / Sleeping on the floor / Eating whatever I stole / That’s me running up in the liquor store / Willing to the let this pistol smoke / Oh you think this is a joke? / Hurry up and get the dough / Lord what have I become? / What have I done?” “My Street Blues” and “Let It All Go” feel like quintessential, new era BTNH, enlisting his fellow Bone comrades to assist in addressing the socio-political climate that breeds crime and violence in America’s roughest neighborhoods, trading bars back and forth on the latter, showing glimpses of the chemistry they’ve maintained for nearly twenty years. And “What Have We Done,” with it’s Michael Jackson vocals and “Earth Song” sample finds all five members kicking verses on the degenerative state of the world as a whole in a fashion reminiscent of The Art Of Wars “If I Could Teach The World”.
From mic to plug, Lyrical Paraphernalia is a sleek listen as consistent in it’s brooding beat selections as it is in it’s classic BTNH harmonic delivery and spirituality. For the most part, Krayzie Bone succeeds in providing fresh spins on previously used production while still adding insight into his life today. “Conversations By Myself” is the best example as KB questions why he hasn’t garnered greater respect from the industry. “Saying that you a legend / Then why do they treat you like a peasant / Like you ain’t relevant / When you know your flow is prevalent / Why why why / All these other niggas getting paid from what you made / They elevate but you seem to stay on the pave / Stuck as a slave.” Not only is the track as introspective as any other on the album, but Krayzie’s assertion that his “flow is prevalent” alludes Bone’s acclaimed delivery and the criticism received because of it’s average lyrics.
Like previous offerings, Lyrical Paraphernalia -- through Krayzie’s flow and shifting harmonies that meld perfectly with any beat -- is sonically appealing enough to rock right as background music on any day of the week. But once the lyrics are dissected, it’s rare to find a stanza that matches the impressive nature of the way it’s delivered, leaving a void in it’s potential impact and replay value. Although LP is possibly the best representation of a matured Krayzie Bone’s ability to craft quality songs without remaking the raucous, 99 mph crime sprees seen on Thug Mentality while still embodying the characteristics that resonate to Bone fans. In the end, it’s another archetype of the Bone paradigm: dope delivery, lyrically mediocre.