Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is an American Hip Hop group from the Glenville section of Cleveland, Ohio. They are best known for their fast-paced, aggressive rapping style and harmonizing vocals. The group was mainly produced by Los Angeles producer, DJ U-Neek. In 1997, the group was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance with their song "Tha Crossroads" from their E 1999 Eternal album. Since its conception in 1993, the group has been honored with numerous other awards. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony also collaborated with Eazy-E, 2Pac, Big Pun, and The Notorious B.I.G. being the only artists to work with all of them while they were still alive. They are currently signed to their own label, BTNH Worldwide with a distribution link from Warner Bros.
Faces of Death
Formed in the early 1990s, the group consisted of four members: Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone and Wish Bone. Their first album, Faces Of Death, was recorded in 1991 under the name B.O.N.E. Enterpri$e. After adding current member Flesh-n-Bone to the group and heading to Los Angeles in search of famous producer and N.W.A. member Eazy-E, their careers took off. In hopes of securing a record deal, the group was given an audition over the phone receiving an unfulfilled promise from Eazy-E to call them back. Discovering that Eazy-E was performing back in their hometown of Cleveland, the group took a charter bus back to their home turf to open Eazy-E's show and they were then signed to Ruthless Records on the spot.
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 Records. After a slow start that saw the album's success limited to gangsta rap audiences, it broke through to the mainstream with the release of the hit singles "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" and "Foe tha Love of $," the second of which featured a verse by Eazy-E. Videos for the mega hits "Foe tha Love of $" and "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" increased the group's reputation among audiences. Beats were supplied by Kenny McCloud, Rhythm D, DJ Yella, and newcomer DJ U-Neek. The album has been certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA.
E 1999 Eternal
While Creepin' On Ah Come Up's subject matter was focused almost entirely on violent criminal activity. In 1995 E 1999 Eternal saw Bone diversified its content and musical style. It debuted at #1 with 307,000 copies sold in its first week. The G-Funk style beats were smoothed by DJ U-Neek (with co-production from Tony Cowan and Kenny McCloud). The singles 1st Of Tha Month and Tha Crossroads were both huge successes, the second of which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. 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. E 1999 Eternal also introduced Bone's trademark tracks devoted entirely to the use of marijuana. One of the group's more commercially successful albums, it has since been certified 6x Platinum by the RIAA and is considered one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time and biggest selling.
The Art Of War
In 1997, the group released the double-disc set The Art of War, backed by the single "Look into My Eyes", which also appeared on the soundtrack of the film Batman & Robin. 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. Some say there are indirect disses thought to be aimed at Twista, Three 6 Mafia, and Do or Die. The album also included "Thug Luv" with Tupac Shakur. The album is also influenced by the book of the same name by author Sun Tzu. The Art of War philosophy is littered throughout the album. While the album had initial success, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 (with 394,000 copies sold in the first week). "Look Into My Eyes" (which charted at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100), the only other single was "If I Could Teach the World", which won an American Music Award, but other songs on the album like "Body Rott" and "Thug Luv" received airplay from popularity. 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 fueled rumors of a break-up. The double album has been certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA.
In 2000, Bone delivered BTNHResurrection, 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. With Flesh-n-Bone appearing on fourteen of the album's sixteen songs, Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone took a lesser role, appearing on nine and eight songs, respectively. The album's first half featured a slew of hardcore and dark tracks, with the second half being considerably more introspective and soft. The album also featured one of the group's biggest singles, "Resurrection (Paper, Paper) in which only reached Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles at #126.
Shortly before the album's release, Flesh-n-Bone was arrested and the group again began having public disputes with Bizzy Bone, having missed out on the promotional tour and appearances. The album debuted at #2 on the charts, selling 283,000 copies in its first week, but again the group ran into problems with staying power. The three singles from the album all failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100 and the big-budget video for "Change the World" failed to receive any rotation. The album has been certified Platinum by the RIAA.
Thug World Order
On September 22, 2001, member Flesh-n-Bone was sentenced to eleven years in prison for threatening a neighbor with an ak-47.In late 2000, the group returned to the studio to record their next release, Thug World Order. By February 2002, the supposedly overly-violent and political album was complete. Ruthless Records, however, was unhappy with the end product and requested that a new batch of more mainstream-oriented songs be recorded. On October 29, 2002, a revamped version of the album was released to little fanfare. Again, a number of promotional problems had sprung up; the video for the album's lead single, "Money Money", was rejected by both BET and MTV for allegedly promoting robbery and problems with Bizzy Bone once again came to the forefront. Because it was released around the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks many of their lyrics such as "Fuck the police and the FBI" were changed or cut from the album. The album debuted at #12 (selling 82,000 the first week) and quickly slipped off the charts, selling a total of 440,000 copies in the U.S.A.. The album would fare better overseas, with the single "Home" (sampling the song "Take Me Home" by Phil Collins) impacting the charts in a number of countries, most notably the United Kingdom. The Thug World Order album that hit stores saw a drastic change in subject matter and tone for the group. In contrast, several songs originally intended to be included on the album that were leaked after its release portray a much different album.
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-n-Harmony recorded as a trio for a full album this album was the group's first full-release since 2002's Thug World Order. Thug Stories sold 38,000 in its first week and peaked at #25 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Independent Chart. The album featured a slightly more mature style and the group leaned heavily towards its harmonic roots than its "thug" origins. It has since sold over 100,000 units despite having no singles, official videos or radio play.
Strength & Loyalty
Originally to be called The Bone Thugs Story, Strength & Loyalty was released on May 8, 2007. 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. Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" is sampled strongly for "Wind Blow."
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. Bone's video "I Tried" (Directed by Rich Newey) was launched on March 7, 2007, their first single from the album Strength and Loyalty, followed by the second single "Lil Love". This album and Bone were nominated for the Favorite Album (Rap/Hip-Hop) and Favorite Band/Group (Rap/Hip-Hop) on American Music Awards 2007 Bone Thugs-n-Harmony won the award for favorite Band/Group. The album has been certified Gold by the RIAA. The group has also made a movie called I Tried
T.H.U.G.S. is an album featuring previously unreleased 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. The sole single off the album is entitled "Young Thugs", which is accompanied by a newly-filmed music video featuring Krayzie, Layzie, Bizzy and Wish.
I Tried (The Bone Thugs Movie)
Bone has also released a movie titled I Tried (directed by Rich Newey), which was originally named "What If..." The topic of the movie is how different the lives of Krayzie, Layzie and Wish would have been if they had never met Eazy-E. The cover of the DVD is on their official website. The movie was released in stores on September 25 of 2007. All three current members did an interview with DJBooth.net to talk about the project. It has since become a platinum selling DVD.
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, spurred by Flesh's release and Layzie Bone's diplomacy; the five are indeed now working on a new studio album, Uni5, having recorded 10-20 tracks out of a possible 100-200. Producers are set to include Krayzie Bone, Damon Elliott (son of Dionne Warwick), Anthony Cowan a.k.a. Tony C, Scott Storch, and possibly Dr. Dre and Akon.
The World's Enemy
The World's Enemy is an upcoming album featuring the reunited, 5-member line-up of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. In February 2009, two tracks were released entitled "The Game Ain't Ready" and "Nuff Respect." Both singles were originally intended to be on the final album. Recent discussions seem to suggest that neither track will be on the final release however. Though no official single has yet to be released for the album, Layzie Bone recently informed fans online that the first single will be titled "See Me Shine," but no release date has been given for the single. The only other confirmed track is one titled "Bone Thugs-n-Harmony (Rebirth)," which recently has turned up as an online-video of Flesh-n-Bone & Layzie Bone recording the track in the studio. The World's Enemy (formerly known as Uni-5) was pushed back yet again from September 22, 2009 to November 24, 2009. The anticipated street single entitled Eazy-E was originally intended on being release on Eazy-E's birthday September 7, 2009 but was pushed back when Krayzie Bone had a family emergency in Cleveland and didn't make it back to Los Angeles to approve the street single in time. 3 New Street Tracks were released after Think Tank 2 finished: "No Mas", "Wanna Ride" and "Let Ya Self Go," all of which were made available on their MySpace page.
Style and technique
Known mostly for their flow, rather than lyricism, Bone's style and technique can be described as melodic, rapid-fire and aggressive. Their flow is often interwoven at a high speed melodic pace or slow harmonic pace. They also tend to ride the beat that they're rapping over. 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 and smoking marijuana. Today, however, their subject matter includes other topics such as urban socio-political issues, their old friend and mentor Eazy-E and religion. Besides minor changes to subject matter and sound, their lyrical style, locution, and overall methodology remain intact.
Twista vs. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
During the mid-to-late 1990s, rappers from parts other than New York City and Los Angeles were emerging. Among them were Twista (a Chicago native) and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (their members originate from both Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio). They both became very popular for their quick, rapid-fire style of rapping delivery. The beef started with a dispute over who originated this style. Bone Thugs say that Twista did not come out with the rapid-fire style. Layzie Bone elaborated and said "yeah he came spittin it a hundred miles an hour but he wasn't adding the harmony like us". Twista attacked back with "Crook County" feat. Psychodrama, calling Bone "Hoes of the Harmony." He also threatened that they were going to see Eazy E soon. However, Layzie Bone and Twista became good friends and they dropped "Mid- West Invasion," soon thereafter the beef ended. Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone still had beef with Twista, they put out subliminal messages dissing Twista in both Krayzie Bone's "Gemini" album and "Leatherface: The Legend" underground album. It was until the "Spit Your Game" video shoot that Krayzie, Wish and Twista ended their Beef. Krayzie Bone was also interviewed.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony remain one of the most popular groups in hip-hop and continues to have a devoted cult following to this day. The group put Cleveland, Ohio on the hip-hop map and was the first major acts to come from the Midwest.