Be honest: You haven’t heard a Bone album since 1997’s Art of War. That’s what the Billboard numbers kind of suggest anyway, despite a loyal following that’s ensured all of the five albums released since have charted their first week. Their iconic style — liquid steel R&B hooks morphing seamlessly into filed-down-firing-pin flows — would be more influential if it were easier to imitate (or fakeable with Auto-Tune). 2007’s Strength & Loyalty found them incorporating contemporary hip-hop elements (meaning goddam Akon) with mixed results, but two newer tracks, “Nuff Respect” and “The Game Ain’t Ready” (which may or may not be included on upcoming The World’s Enemy, scheduled for a September 22 release), prove they can survive modern production. Those hoping to hear “1st of tha Month” or “Tha Crossroads” shouldn’t leave disappointed, either. When the day comes, better believe Bone gotta shoulder you can lean on.
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