Last updated: 04/28/2013 05:07:11 PM
Perpetrators and haters beware: one of the original thugs, Yukmouth, is returning to the fray with a banging new album, Thug Lord: The New Testament, a collection that finally let's the world know who the true leaders of thug life are.
"Everybody's thuggin' on wax," observes Yukmouth. "To be the epitome of thuggin', I came with the Thug Lord thing. Also, making music is a spiritual thing to me. You need God. So it's... Me and God, the thug and the Lord, together on the album."
Thug Lord: The New Testament arrives two years after Yukmouth set the West Coast on fire with his 1998 double CD, Thugged Out: The Albulation, and his incendiary tribute to Tupac Shakur, "Still Ballin'," with 'Pac's famed side clique, the Outlawz.
The success of that single, however, led more than a few haters to accuse Yukmouth of trying to be the next Tupac. Yukmouth addresses the controversy on "We Gone Ride," a reunion with the Outlawz produced by Rick Rock. "Niggas think I act like 'Pac/Bitch nigga I don't rap like 'Pac/I just get dap like 'Pac/Bring the West back like 'Pac."
"A lot of people say that because I'm thuggin', and I'm the closest movement," to Tupac's influential "Thug Life" agenda, says Yukmouth. "I had to put that out there. I don't sound like 'Pac, I'm just keeping the movement alive. That's all."
"'Pac is a big influence for me, along with Biggie, all of them, just for being young black entrepreneurs that made it out of the gutter."
One track from Thug Lord: The New Testament to look out for, "Clap Yo Hands," is already working the streets harder than a bag of stress; an equally potent second salvo to be aware of, the raucous "Ooh Ooh," is soon to follow. Both should distinguish Thug Lord: The New Testament's gangsta boogie from its more contemplative predecessor. "Last album, I had a lot of storytelling, basically letting people know who Yukmouth is," says the rap veteran of Thugged Out: The Albulation. "Now that I got that off my chest, I can go back to making songs for the people."
In addition to the Outlawz, Yukmouth assembles a gallery of hardcore rap veterans on Thug Lord: The New Testament, including C-BO and Phats Bossi ("Do It Right"), Kurupt, Nate Dogg, and Kokane ("So Ignorant") and CJ Mac ("Smile").
Also returning is the R間ime ("R間ime Life," "R間ime Killers"), Yukmouth's extended family of raw dog MCs. Yukmouth says, "I had to come with my own clique, my own fam. The R間ime is basically the people I've been dealing with since I started off my rap career. They're from all different parts of the United States - from the East Coast to the West Coast, on down South. We just unified. Our whole group ain't just based in one city or one state."
Appropriately, Thug Lord: The New Testament closes with a "New Testament" that breaks down Yukmouth's trials and tribulations, from watching his memorable "Ice Cream Man" concept get hijacked by other rappers in the game, to losing both his parents in the mid-90s. "Lord, I'd sacrifice my life/Just to bring my mother back to life/Just to bring my father back to life/Just to bring my potnas back to life," he spits over an emotional Mike Dean production. Nevertheless, he raps, "I'm blessed with a son and daughter/It's like reincarnation of my mother and father/Continuous saga."
Thug Lord: The New Testament is Yukmouth's second album as a solo artist after branching out from his group, the Luniz. Along with partner Knumskull, the Luniz debuted in 1995 with Operation Stackola, which The Source recently named one of the top 100 hip-hop albums of all time. Even more popular than their platinum debut, however, was the massive hit single, "I Got 5 On It," which crossed over to pop radio and eventually sold well over a million copies.
However, Yukmouth says the Luniz haven't released any new material since their second album in 1997, Lunitik Muzik, because he's chosen to focus on his new solo career.
"The Luniz is the funny gangsta side of hip-hop. Yukmouth is the straight gangsta side of hip-hop," he laughs. "I choose to rap like that because that's me - Yukmouth. I got a song on Thug Lord: The New Testament where I take it back to the Luniz style called 'Puffin Lah.' I took it back to the Luniz shit with that just to show niggas I can do what the fuck I want to do lyrically."
Yukmouth adds, though, that he and Knumskull are currently working on a new Luniz album that should drop sometime in 2001. "The Luniz is going to continue. I just had to venture off and do my thing right quick to see if it was the best situation," he says.
Until then, Yukmouth promises to continue to make headbanging music to ride to. "Yukmouth, he's full of energy, aggression, pain, and he's gotta get all that shit off his chest," he explains. "So when he get behind the mic, that's all that comes out - straight fire."