Pity the innovators forgotten by the music industry. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony pioneered the sing-song Midwest Swing that Nelly and others took straight to the bank. The imitators haven't even left the vaults yet, and Layzie and Bizzy Bone are plotting a comeback from indieland. It's hardly surprising that their Bone Brothers debut begins in pissed-off fashion with "Like Me": MCs who dress, act, and "sound just like me . . . get bit just like me."
As always, though, when it comes to the Bone boys, it's not about what they say, but how they say it -- in harmonized, double- and triple-timed rhymes that skip through even thugged-out tales with a light touch. With fellow brother Krayzie pitching in on a half-dozen cuts, there's not much here to distinguish this from a regular Bone Thugs offering. That's a good thing: Bone's blend of melody and sleek, stuttering R&B sounds as good here as it did a decade ago.