Are you a fan of old school hardcore hip-hop? T-Bone's Tha Life of a Hoodlum is the album that will bring back some of those memories. With his 1991 album Redeemed Hoodlum, T-Bone provided fans of groups like Cypress Hill and NWA a fresh alternative by not slamming on cops and authority, but by offering the brutal truth of how demons will be negatively affected by his message. 1993's Life of a Hoodlum continues that hardcore message of the Gospel.
The album's opening track, which is also the title of the album, gives the listener an audio dramatization one's life as a thug or hoodlum. It is followed by 'Throwin Out Tha Wicked,' which has a similar vibe to "Lyrical Assassin" in a lyrical sense with jammin grooves and smooth rhymes. Next comes the haunting 'Thief In Tha Night,' which provides a horrifying yet thoughtful example of how a lukewarm Christian is to live his life once he has discovered he was left behind after the rapture. Things heat up lyrically with the track 'Straight Up Psycho,' another song where T-Bone discusses the issues of street life and once again slammin demons in the grill. The disc takes a rather emotional turn with songs like 'Pushin Up Daises' and 'Drunk in the Spirit,' a funky vibe about Bone's first experience feeling the Holy Spirit come over him.
Quite a few of the tracks include samples of other songs from artists such as Cypress Hill, Snoop Dogg, and Wu-Tang Klan, which fit nicely into the songs in which they are sampled. A highlight of the album is the song 'Life After Death,' which features guest vocals by Mista Grimm, who was a relatively unknown at the time but showed his ability to flow well with the music. One particular song however, 'Crazy Hispanic,' kind of reiterates some of the message described in 'Straight Up Psycho,' which isn't bad but might have worked better if the 2 songs had been combined. Like most rappers, T-Bone has several interludes on the album, of which a couple could have been left off, such as 'Shouts,' where he is acknowledging people who helped him in his career, even though he already accomplishes mentioning it in the album credits and the interlude where he is talking to Mista Grimm, even though it's a little humorous, it seems to take a little too long to get through.
The album closes with 'Another Hoodlum's Prayer,' where Bone says a prayer over those who are listening to the album as he is praying. All in all, Tha Life of a Hoodlum, despite the minor flaws, stands out as one of the best hip-hop albums released in the 90's. T-Bone has been around for more than a decade and still remains a dominate force in the world of hip-hop.- Review date: 10/25/03, written by Paul Portell
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