Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are an American hip hop group from Cleveland, Ohio. It consists of rappers Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone and Flesh-N-Bone. American West Coast rapper Eazy-E, former member of rap group N.W.A, signed Bone Thugs-n-Harmony to Ruthless Records in late 1993, when Bone Thugs debuted with their EP Creepin on ah Come Up. The EP included their breakout hit single "Thuggish Ruggish Bone".
In 1995, the group released its second album E. 1999 Eternal, which included hits "1st of tha Month" and "East 1999." A tribute to the recently deceased Eazy-E, titled "Tha Crossroads", won a Grammy award in 1997. The Art of War, the group's third album, was also released in 1997. Bone Thugs is also the only group that has worked with deceased artists 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Eazy-E & Big Pun while they were still alive. The editors of About.com ranked them #12 on their list of the "25 Best Rap Groups of All Time", and MTV called them "the most melodic hip-hop group of all time".
In 2000, BTNHResurrection reached platinum in one month and Thug World Order (2002) received more moderate sales and promotion, going Gold and peaking at #3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. After the album the group went on hiatus and released their sixth studio album Thug Stories independently before returning in 2007 with the major label release Strength & Loyalty, this time released by Swizz Beatz's label Full Surface Records. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony officially returned with their new album Uni-5: The World's Enemy, released in 2010 by their own record label, BTNH Worldwide, with distribution by Warner Bros.
Due to internal conflicts within the group, longtime members Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone officially left the group in April 2011 to work with their independent label, The Life Ent. However, in 2012, Krayzie and Wish claimed they never really left and were in a state of mind where everything felt hopeless, thus claiming to quit. They would later return, officially re-unifying the group. In August 2013, Layzie Bone announced that he would be stepping aside to work more on his solo career. Also, in the same month, Bone signed with eOne Entertainment (formerly known as Koch Records).
B.O.N.E Enterprise early years
Formed in the early 1990s, the group was originally called "The Band-Aid Boys". The group formed the band B.O.N.E. Enterpri$e which consisted of five members: Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone and later Flesh-n-Bone and recorded an album entitled Faces of Death in the studio of their then mentor, Kermit Henderson (Krayzie Bone's younger brother) on his indie label Stoney Burke in 1993. Like so many aspiring rappers around the country, they put in calls to executives at record companies, hoping to find someone who would listen. In hopes of securing a record deal the group was given an audition over the phone receiving an unfulfilled promise from rapper Eazy-E to call them back. Determined to reach him, they scrounged together the money for one-way bus tickets to Los Angeles. They left for a three-day Greyhound trek and spent four months on the city streets, putting in frequent calls to find him. Nothing came of except the news that Eazy-E was, in fact, on his way to Cleveland for a show. Diego Blak (born Diego Hodge), a marketer and promoter and co-executive producer of Faces Of Death introduced them to Eazy-E at a concert he promoted in Cleveland, Ohio where they auditioned for him in his dressing room and then traveled back to Los Angeles, California after the show to seal the deal. On November 2, 1993, the group auditioned backstage for Eazy-E. Krayzie performed his verse of "Flow Motion" from the Faces of Death album and Eazy was impressed. At this point Eazy named them Thugs-n-Harmony, but they wanted to keep the bone name so they renamed themselves Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Eazy signed the group (minus Flesh-n-Bone) to his label Ruthless Records.
Creepin on ah Come Up
Released in June 1994, the EP Creepin on ah Come Up, was Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's debut with Ruthless. The album subject matter was focused almost entirely on violent criminal activity. Peaking at #12 on the Billboard 200 album chart and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, it included the hit singles "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" and "Foe tha Love of $", the second of which featured a verse by Eazy-E. "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #2 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart, and "Foe tha Love of $" peaked at #41 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Rap Tracks. After a slow start that saw the album's success limited to gangsta rap audiences, it broke through to the mainstream. The EP marked a major change in style for the group, as they now fully embraced the G-Funk common in West Coast hip-hop of the time. Beats were supplied by DJ Yella, Rhythum D, Kenny McCloud, and it was the group's first collaboration with newcomer producer DJ U-Neek, who would craft the group's signature sound by producing the majority of their next two albums. For over a year, Eazy-E nurtured their career, continuing to serve as their executive producer and teaching them the business skills he had taught himself over the years. The growing relationship was cut short, however, when Eazy-E died on March 26, 1995, from complications from AIDS. Briefly, the young rappers thought they had lost everything with the loss of their friend. However, the group's potential was already apparent, and Ruthless Records continued to support them.
E. 1999 Eternal
In 1995, the group's second album E. 1999 Eternal was released. It included the singles "1st of tha Month", which peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Hot Rap Tracks, and "Tha Crossroads", which reached #1 on the Hot 100 and Hot Rap Tracks charts. The album saw Bone diversify its content and musical style. A considerable portion of the album's concept was built upon violent subject matter, yet Bone also incorporated deeper themes, as its songs dealt with more spirituality and occult mysticism. The album was produced by DJ U-Neek (with co-production from Tony C. and Kenny McCloud). E. 1999 Eternal also introduced Bone's trademark tracks devoted entirely to the use of marijuana. The album name originated from one of the street names of a corner (E. 99th street & St. Clair) that was a familiar hangout to Bone members, as well as Eazy-E's album, Eternal E. Naming it after Eazy-E's album was just another way of showing respect and tribute to the rapper that helped them reach heightened success. In the same year, Flesh-n-Bone would become the first member of the group to release a debut album entitled T.H.U.G.S, which was certified gold according to the RIAA. In 1996 due to their success the Cleveland clan established their own Mo Thugs Records and released the Mo Thugs Family Scriptures compilation album to introduce many of the Cleveland-based and other artists that they were developing. E. 1999 Eternal is the group's most commercially successful album, it has since been certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA.
The Art of War
In 1997, the group released the double-disc set The Art of War. The album saw Bone further explore a wide variety of subjects and styles, with even more focus on God and family and an overall more ambient, mellow sound. The group still incorporated violent lyrics, though, with a large portion of the album dedicated to what they labeled "clones" who claimed Bone had stolen their quick-tongued rapping style and vice-versa. The album was rumored to be called "DNA Level C" which is Cleveland backwards. The single "Look into My Eyes" appeared on the soundtrack of the film Batman & Robin. It peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart. "If I Could Teach The World", the other single from The Art of War, peaked at #27 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the Hot Rap Tracks. and won an American Music Award. The album also included "Thug Luv" with Tupac Shakur. The group's efforts were though dampened by the absence of Bizzy Bone from the album's videos and large portions of the ensuing tour and public appearances. This absence by that time fueled rumors of a break-up.
In 2000, the group released BTNHResurrection. The album featured the single "Resurrection (Paper, Paper)", which peaked on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at #52. The album's first half featured a slew of hardcore and dark tracks, with the second half being considerably more introspective and soft. Other two singles from the album including "Can't Give it Up" failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100 and the big-budget video for "Change The World" failed to receive any rotation. Their first group album to prominently feature Flesh-n-Bone, whose presence was limited on previous releases because he had never signed with the group's label Ruthless Records. Flesh was convicted for assault with a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon in June 2000. Pleading guilty, Flesh was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The group again began having public disputes with Bizzy Bone. Bizzy Bone abstained from promoting BTNHResurrection because he felt that Ruthless Records owed him money. He dropped a million-dollar lawsuit he filed against Sony Music and Loud Records in exchange for a termination of his Sony contract. Three members of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony released solo albums in 2001: Bizzy Bone with The Gift, Layzie Bone with Thug by Nature, and Krayzie Bone with Thug on da Line.
Thug World Order
In 2002, the group released Thug World Order. The album, made up of supposedly overly-violent and political songs, saw a drastic change in subject matter and tone for the group. The lyrics were almost completely void of any violence, while a larger number of tracks focused on the group itself. In contrast, several songs originally intended to be included on the album that were leaked after its release portray a much different album. The album debuted at #12 on the Billboard 200. The first single released from the album was "Get Up & Get It", featuring 3LW. The second single "Home" that featured Phil Collins performing part of his song "Take Me Home" peaked at #33 on the Rhythmic Top 40 impacting the charts in a number of countries, most notably the United Kingdom. Bizzy Bone was expelled from the group in January 2003 thus leaving only 3 active members Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone & Wish Bone.
Thug Stories, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's sixth album was recorded on Koch Records and released on September 19, 2006. It marked the first time Bone Thugs recorded as a trio after they released an internet-only EP album called '"Bone 4 Life" in September 2005. The album featured a slightly more mature style and the group leaned heavily towards its harmonic roots than its "thug" origins. Thug Stories sold 38,000 in its first week and peaked at #25 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Independent Album Chart.
Strength & Loyalty
Originally to be called The Bone Thugs Story, Strength & Loyalty was released on May 8, 2007 on Interscope Records imprint Full Surface Records. Being their first major album after an absence of nearly five years, the album debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on iTunes and the Billboard Urban Music charts. The album contains guest appearances by Mariah Carey, The Game, will.i.am, Akon, Twista, Bow Wow, Yolanda Adams, and Felecia.
Producers on the album included Swizz Beatz, Akon, Pretty Boy & Bradd Young, DJ Toomp, Jermaine Dupri, will.i.am, and others. The executive producer of the album was Swizz Beatz. The first single was "I Tried", which was their first top 10 hit in 10 years, having peaked at number 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The second single was "Lil Love", which failed to reach the success of their first single. The album has been certified Gold by the RIAA.[dead link]. They also released the semi-autobiographical film called "I Tried" directed by Rich Newey that same year.
T.H.U.G.S. is an album featuring previously unreleased, largely remixed Bone Thugs-n-Harmony songs that didn't make the final cut of BTNHResurrection and Thug World Order albums. It was released on November 13, 2007 by their former record label Ruthless Records. Although the album embodies old tracks, there are some new notable changes: new beats, distorted production, voice manipulation, and new song titles. The sole single off the album was "Young Thugs", which was accompanied by a newly filmed music video featuring Krayzie, Layzie, Bizzy and Wish.
In November 2007, Layzie Bone confirmed that he had completed the Bone Brothers III album with Bizzy Bone, spurring speculation of a full Bone reunion. In a video interview, Krayzie Bone stated that they all wanted to reunite but that record label issues may prevent an official reunion. Bizzy Bone had attended a Bone Thugs performance during the time and he and the three then-standing members had a "good conversation".
After nearly a decade of incarceration, Flesh-n-Bone was released from prison on July 13, 2008. In an interview, Bizzy confirmed his return to the group, after them all getting together by the time of Flesh's release.
Uni5: The World's Enemy
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony five members officially returned with their new album Uni-5: The World's Enemy, released in 2010 by their own record label, BTNH Worldwide, with distribution by Warner Bros. Uni5 also marks the return of long-time collaborator, DJ U-Neek, who was absent from 2007's Strength & Loyalty and has produced for the group throughout their career, including hits such as "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" and "Tha Crossroads." This studio effort leans toward radio-friendly numbers and proper grown-man tracks, with the core four members offering life lessons as Bizzy gives his Biblical perspective. They released the singles "See Me Shine" featuring Jay Rush and Lyfe Jennings and "Rebirth" featuring Thin-C. A third single, "Meet Me in the Sky", was released on March 22. Uni-5: The World's Enemy was released on May 4, 2010.
The Art of War: World War III
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony announced on their blog over the summer that they're planning a new album for 2012. They reiterated those facts in a November interview.
Krayzie Bone, Bizzy Bone and Layzie Bone more recently have spoken of many new projects coming in 2012. Those projects include an anniversary album featuring all 5 members, a Bizzy & Krayzie duet album, and unreleased compilation albums of unreleased Bone Thugs-n-Harmony material from the mid to late 90's and 2000's named Lost Archives Vol. 1. The group put their differences aside to reunite and belatedly mark their 20th anniversary at the Rock the Bells festival series of 2012 summer. Game sampled Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's '1st Of Tha Month' on his new posse cut 'Celebration' and also got the legendary group's blessing. Game also posted a picture on his twitter showing the word bone structured with cannabis. He later confirmed that he is working in the studio with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony on a remix for his first single "Celebration" off his album Jesus Piece.
The album was officially denounced by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony in an interview with The Source (magazine) on March 25, 2013. After not appearing on the Everything 100 tour with the rest of the group and Tydollasign, Layzie Bone announced on August 28, 2013 that he would be stepping aside the group in order to advance his solo career. He stated that after the completion of a few major performances and a television appearance that he no longer has any further contractual obligations to the group and would not appear on their next album. In early November 2013, Krayzie Bone told HipHopDX that the Art of War III album, was only an album featuring Layzie, Bizzy and Flesh Bone, and that himself and Wish Bone had not recorded any material for the album.
Style and technique
Bone's style can be described as melodic, yet rapid-fire and gangsta. Their flow is often interwoven at a high-speed Chopper style, melodic pace or slow, harmonic pace. Although largely uncredited, their monotonous style of singing as well as their rapid fire rhythms over slowed down beats has influenced and pioneered the double time rhythms in R'n'B that emerged from the mid-90s onward, as showcased in songs such "My love is the Shhhh" by Something for the People, "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child, and others. They also tend to ride the beat that they're rapping over. They often describe their style as the "flip flop flow". Sometimes there are very few choruses separating their verses from one another. In the beginning, circa Faces of Death, Bone used a pseudo-Jamaican patois delivery with their trademark style, though they rarely do this now. Bone's subject matter has both spiritual and occult undertones (e.g., "Hell Sent", "Intro", "Mr. Ouija", "Mr. Ouija 2" and "Da Introduction"). At first, their subject matter was almost always exclusively about violence, death and smoking marijuana. Today, however, their subject matter includes other topics such as urban socio-political issues, positive messages, their old friend and mentor Eazy-E and religion. Besides minor changes to subject matter and sound, their lyrical style, elocution, and overall methodology remain intact and have influenced many new artists today who have picked up this unique style.