BoneCrusher.jpgBone Crusher was on top of the world in 2003. Based on the sheer sonic force of his Top 10 hit “Never Scared,” nearly half-a-million people copped his abominable So So Def debut, AttenCHUN! But fans expecting the same infectious content on the rest of the disc were instead bombarded with mediocre lyrics and uncohesive material, which resulted in the Atlanta native getting dropped. Three years later, the rotund rapper puts his career in the hands of boxer Roy Jones Jr., and goes back to the drawing board with Release the Beast.

Trying to recapture his past glory, Bone drenches his sophomore effort with heavy doses of gruff baritone and chest-beating bars. The formula shows signs of possibly working on the crunkdafied fighter’s anthem “Southern Gorillas” and the screw-face tutorial “Mug On.” Unfortunately, these moments of clarity are fleeting.

Bone’s animated delivery gets the best of him on the singsongy “Pistol Fo,” as he nonsensically spits, “Like the newspaper, brand-new, you’ll get ya is-sha/We rip through these soft niggas like Charmin tiss-sha/I’m off my rocker, muthafucka/ Sometimes I’m mental.” Even worse is the eardrum-gratin’ “Danger” and the cliché gangsta cut “We Are,” featuring forgettable verses from homies Twenty, Tezy and Cotton.

Sure Crusher’s never been touted as a lyrical titan. But at least AttenCHUN! had Jermaine Dupri to oversee the potent percussion work that masks Bone’s mic deficiencies. This time around, the Rossar brothers and newcomer Chris “Soleternity” McGill, who are the LP’s sole producers, has the daunting task of trying to make the rap behemoth listenable. For the most part, all parties involved fail miserably. Bone’s only saving grace is when he switches from hard-core posturing to Twinkie filling–soft sincerity. Both the easy-breezy “This One” and the everyday-strugglin’ “Feel It” display a kinder and gentler Crusher that shows flashes of the inner star from yesteryear. Maybe instead of releasing the beast, Bone should have kept him under lock and key.—PAUL W. ARNOLD