* * * KRAYZIE BONE "Thug on Da Line" Loud
Hip-hop listeners craving to escape the flossy, material-driven hip-hop dominating radio and video would do well to listen to Krayzie Bone.
The Cleveland rapper's second album (due Tuesday) contains the type of self-reflection and worldly perspective that's rare in hip-hop's popular, hard-core ranks. Like many rappers, this member of the Grammy-winning rap quartet Bone Thugs-N-Harmony occupies a world that revolves around the streets, violent rivals and two-timing women.
What makes Krayzie distinctive is his willingness to examine his precarious situations and come up with solutions, as he does in the elegant "Time After Time." His gruff rapping and soothing, singsong vocal style allow him to convey a variety of emotions as he navigates his wicked world.
Of course, the 20-cut collection contains more than just serious selections. Krayzie takes time to boast of his crew's prominent place in hip-hop's hierarchy on "Da Thugs" and to trumpet marijuana on "Rollin Up Some Mo'." Even these songs distance themselves from standard fare thanks to Krayzie's innovative delivery and the diverse production of the backing tracks.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.