Bone Thugs-n-Harmony

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Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is a U.S. rap group from Cleveland, Ohio known for their quick-tongued rapping style and harmonizing vocals. They sold more than 40 million units worldwide.

The Bone Begins

Formed in the early 1990s, the group was originally known as "B.O.N.E.Enterpri$e" and consisted of Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Wish Bone and Bizzy Bone. They recorded the album Faces Of Death under this moniker in early 1992. Soon after, Flesh-N-Bone (Layzie Bone's brother) was added to the group.

Their career took off in the early 90's after heading to Los Angeles on a Greyhound bus in search of N.W.A member Eazy-E. They auditioned over the phone to him in hopes of securing a record deal, but Eazy-E's promise to call them back went unfulfilled. Discovering that Eazy-E was performing back in Cleveland, the group rushed back to audition in person, where they (without Flesh-N-Bone) were promptly signed to a contract with Eazy-E's Ruthless Records. Eazy-E suggested the group rename themselves "Thugs-N-Harmony", but the group wanted to keep the name "Bone", so "Bone Thugs-N-Harmony" was settled on.

The Ruthless Years

Creepin' On Ah Come Up

Bone Thugs N Harmony's first release on Ruthless Records, Creepin On Ah Come Up (EP) was released in June 1994. After a slow start that saw the album's success limited to within the gangsta rap scene, it broke through to the mainstream with the release of the singles "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" and "Foe Tha Luv Of $", the second of which featured a guest rap by Eazy-E. Recorded during the "golden age" of West Coast rap music, the album's production draws heavily upon it, with beats supplied by Yella of NWA fame, Rhythm D and newcomer DJ U-Neek (who would later become Bone's partner in production).

E. 1999 Eternal

Shortly before the release of their first full album E. 1999 Eternal in 1995, their mentor Eazy-E died of AIDS-related complications. A new song dedicated to Eazy-E, entitled "Tha Crossroads", was featured on the re-release of the album and, upon its release as a single, in 1996, earned the group a Grammy Award and tied The Beatles' 32-year record for fastest-rising single. This, along with welfare-anthem "1st Of Tha Month", rocketed the album's sales past five million.

While Creepin On Ah Come Up's subject matter was focused nearly entirely on violent criminal activity, E. 1999 Eternal saw Bone both diversify that and its musical stylings. The G-Funk beats were smoothed by DJ U-Neek (with co-production from Tony C and Kenny McCloud). Similarly, while a considerable portion of the album's concept was built around a violent subject, the album saw Bone delve more into spirituality and also introduced Bone's trademark "weed songs", tracks devoted entirely to the smoking of marijuana.

E. 1999 Eternal remains Bone's most successful venture in terms of sales and notoriety. It is consistently ranked as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time and sales continue to be strong to this day, showing up in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Catalog Albums chart on a regular basis.

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 from the movie Batman and 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 found time for 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 Chicago-based rap group Crucial Conflict was targeted by name, with indirect disses thought to be aimed at Twista, Three Six Mafia, and Do Or Die. The album also included "Thug Luv" with Tupac Shakur.

While the album had initial success, debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts (with 394,000 copies sold in the first week), it failed to have much staying power. Besides "Look Into My Eyes" (which charted at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100), only " Change The World" was released as a single. The group's efforts were further dampened by the absence of Bizzy Bone from the album's videos and large portions of the ensuing tour and public appearances, which fueled rumors of a break-up. The album was certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA (with each album sold counting as two units under the association's certification guidelines).

BTNHResurrection

In 2000, Bone delivered BTNHResurrection, the first album by the group to prominently feature Flesh-N-Bone, whose presence was limited on Bone's previous releases due to never having signed with the group's label Ruthless Records. With Flesh appearing on 14 of the album's 15 songs, Krayzie Bone and Wish took a lesser role, appearing on 10 and 7 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).

Shortly before the album's release, Flesh-N-Bone was arrested and the group again began having public disputes with Bizzy Bone, with Bizzy again missing out on the promotional tour and appearances. The album debuted #2 on the charts, selling 260,000 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 epic, big-budget video for "Change The World" failed to receive any rotation.

Thug World Order

In late 2001, 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. In October 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. The album debuted at #12 (selling 82,000 the first week) and quickly slipped off the charts. The album would fare better overseas, with the single "Home" (sampling the song "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. The lyrics were almost completely void of any violence, while the number of tracks focusing on the group itself bordered on overkill. In contrast, several songs originally intended to be included on the album that were leaked after its release portray a much different Bone.

Turmoil

In 2000, member Flesh-N-Bone was sentenced to 11 years in prison on various gun charges. Eligible for parole in 2008, he currently is housed in Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California. Though Flesh's appearances on most of Bone's albums were sparse due to him never signing with the group's long-time home Ruthless Records, he was - and is - considered a member by the group itself.

After years of problems with member Bizzy Bone, the group officially parted ways with Bizzy after he gave an intoxicated performance with the group at BB King's Blues Club in New York City in October of 2002. In October 2003, he rejoined the group for the Wicked Wonka Tour with the Insane Clown Posse and soon recorded Bone Brothers, a duet album with Layzie Bone. Things quickly turned sour, though, as Bizzy declined to tour in support of the album and contract negotiations between Bone and Bizzy with Full Surface Records broke down. After this and a number of other incidents, the group once again cut ties with Bizzy Bone in May 2005.

A New Beginning

In 2003, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony left Ruthless Records and began a search for a new home. In 2005, the group—minus Bizzy Bone—signed with producer Swizz Beatz's Full Surface Records (an imprint of J Records) and began recording a new album, which is expected to be released in mid-2006. The album is said to be produced by Swizz Beatz, Kanye West, Lil' Jon, Three 6 Mafia, Big Boi of Outkast, Play-N-Skillz, Timbaland and Dr. Dre. According to Bone, the album will feature all-new vocals from imprisoned member Flesh-N-Bone.

In September 2005, the group released an internet-only enhanced CD titled Bone 4 Life, featuring six new tracks produced by D.J. U-Neek and a behind the scenes video.

The group also plans to independently release an album titled Strength And Loyalty in 2006. The album is scheduled to include previously unreleased material from Bone's past as well as all-new material.

Legacy

Perhaps the group's most important contribution to rap is their speedy, harmonizing flow. While fast rapping has always had a niche in the culture, Bone certainly brought the style to the forefront. In addition, the group's ability to harmonize whilst flowing at top speeds is truly remarkable.

Although 1996 was definitely the peak of their popular appeal, Bone still has a fairly large cult following. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are the only rap artists ever to have collaborated with late rappers Eazy-E, 2Pac, Big Pun and Notorious BIG while living. As all these artists have died, no other artist can achieve this feat.

"Tha Crossroads" was covered by Chingford boy band Blazin' Squad in 2002, and was a UK Singles Chart Number 1 for a week.

Line-up

Current Members

Former Members

Discography

Albums

Filmography

Singles

Year Title Chart Positions Album
U.S. Hot 100 U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop U.S. Rap UK Singles Chart
1994 "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" (Gold) #22 #17 #2 - Creepin On Ah Come Up
1995 "Foe Tha Love Of $" (Gold) #41 #33 #4 - Creepin On Ah Come Up
1995 "1st Of Tha Month" (Gold) #14 #12 #4 - E. 1999 Eternal
1995 "East 1999" #62 #38 #8 - E. 1999 Eternal
1996 "Tha Crossroads" (2x Platinum) #1 (9 Weeks) #1 #1 #1 E. 1999 Eternal
1997 "Breakdown(Mariah Carey Featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony) - - - - Butterfly
1997 "Look Into My Eyes" (Platinum) #4 #4 #2 - The Art of War
1997 "If I Could Teach The World" (Gold) #27 #20 #3 - The Art of War
1997 "Days Of Our Livez" (Gold) - - - - The Collection Volume One
1999 "Ghetto Cowboy" #15 #14 #1 - The Collection: Volume Two
2000 "Ecstasy" - - - - BTNHResurrection
2000 "Resurrection (Paper, Paper)" - #52 - - BTNHResurrection
2000 "Can't Give It Up" - - - - BTNHResurrection
2000 "Change The World" - - - - BTNHResurrection
2002 "Money, Money" - - - - Thug World Order
2002 "Get Up & Get It" - - - - Thug World Order
2003 "Home"(Featuring Phil Collins) - - - #19 Thug World Order

External links

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