If there is a hip-hop group that will be remembered in history as the most unique, with a melodic flow like no other that unites people together, it would be Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
The group, consisting of members Krayzie Bone, Wish Bone, Layzie Bone, Flesh-N-Bone and Bizzy Bone, originated out of inner-city Cleveland in 1991. It is known for its fast-paced rapping and harmonizing vocals, a rarity that isn’t seen in many of today’s hip-hop groups. Even MTV named Bone Thugs-N-Harmony the “most melodic hip hop group of all time.”
Its ability to bridge East and West Coast artists is a point of pride for the band. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has collaborated with legendary rappers Eazy-E, 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G. and Big Pun. It has also worked with such rap artists as A$AP Rocky, Wiz Khalifa and Kendrick Lamar. The group is recognized as one of the most successful hip-hop groups of all time, with more than 50 million records sold worldwide.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony was signed to Ruthless Records, the label of West Coast rapper and former N.W.A. member Eazy-E, after an audition in 1993. It was this mentor’s influence that would help set the group apart from other hip-hop groups at that time. The group’s debut album, Creepin on ah Come Up (1994), spiked the hits “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and “Foe tha Love of $” that used a heavy bass and keyboards with harmonies and, at times, samplings for gangsta rap lovers to embrace.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s second and third albums, E. 1999 Eternal (1995) and The Art of War (1997), showed the group’s more spiritual side, yet kept the same hardcore flow. Both significant albums peaked at No.1 on the Billboard charts. It is the hit “Tha Crossroads” for which the group might be best known. An effort to ease the pain of someone who lost a loved one, the track is dedicated to the group’s mentor, Eazy-E, who died from AIDS in 1995, as well as other friends and family members who have passed. The song earned Bone Thugs-N-Harmony a Grammy in 1997. Two American Music Awards were to follow, when the group was named Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Band, Duo or Group in 1998 and again in 2007. Nearly 10 years apart, those awards attest to the group’s staying power.
According to HipHopDx.com, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony plans to release its latest studio album, E. 1999 Legends, as part of a campaign to earn induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the near future. The group, however, is not eligible to be nominated into the Rock Hall until 2019. A Bone Thugs-N-Harmony biopic is also reportedly in the works, with West Coast rap pioneer Ice Cube named as producer for the film.
Even though Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has been through its hardships with Krayzie Bone’s health struggles and DUI charges, jail time for Flesh Bone, breakups and rekindlings, the group continues to be a solid name in the rap institution. Just last month, it joined Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Tha Dogg Pound and DJ Quik for the Puff Puff Pass tour and is currently slated to appear at other venues solo across the nation throughout the year.
See you at tha crossroads.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony appears on Friday, Jan. 20, at the Ventura Theater, 26 S. Chestnut St., Ventura. For tickets and information, call 653-0721 or visit www.venturatheater.net.