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Bone Thugs-N-Harmony 

Thug Stories (Koch)

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Thug Stories, Bone Thugs' first outing in four years, finds the frequently feuding quintet pared down to a trio (Krayzie, Layzie, and Wish Bone) and marking time until their big-label reentry on Interscope next year. But this seeming throwaway isn't, quite.

Sure, the hardcore will be disconcerted by the disappearance of the old rapid-fire raps -- and by the romantic jams that dominate Thug Stories' first half. But the weakly crunkified "Fire" aside, the Bones wear their new musical duds with dignity. The last three tracks, meanwhile, form a spiritual suite as good as any BT&H material in the past decade.

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