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In Solo Debut, Krayzie Bone Shows Eclectic Talent, Tastes

April 03, 1999|SOREN BAKER

***

KRAYZIE BONE

"Thug Mentality 1999"

Relativity

On "Ghetto Cowboy," the most popular single from either of the two "Mo Thugs" projects, this member of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and his comrades created what is regarded as rap's first country song. With this debut solo album (due in stores Tuesday), the husky-voiced rapper keeps pushing the music's aural boundaries, establishing himself as one of the genre's most innovative figures.

Incorporating an eclectic range of instruments--pianos, ukuleles and flutes, for starters--and using a similarly diverse bevy of producers throughout the two-CD set, the Cleveland native flexes his disparate styles. When he uses his signature sing-song delivery, as he does on "Smokin' Budda" and "Thug Mentality," Krayzie demonstrates that he's one of rap's most seductive vocalists. But his menacing raps on selections such as the sublime "Try Me" and the bouncy "Heated Heavy" are equally entrancing. He also continues Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's tradition of rapid-fire raps about life's struggles.

Trimming a few of the collection's 38 cuts would have eliminated some lesser songs and made for an even stronger solo bow.

*** Prince Paul, "A Prince Among Thieves," Tommy Boy.

On his second solo album, the producer of De La Soul's zany sounds delivers a brilliant sonic movie. Nearly 80 minutes long, the set details friends Tariq and True's pursuit of a record deal. Subtly humorous and always captivating, the collection is propelled by guests such as Chris Rock and Everlast, among others, who play the story's bizarre characters. Prince Paul performs at the Ruby in Hollywood on Sunday.

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.

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