Bone Thugs N Harmony

Bone Thugs N Harmony

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony popularized a singing-style of rap in the mid-'90s. That is hardly a minor accomplishment; it changed the landscape of hip-hop both aesthetically and commercially. Their combination of popular gangsta taboos and pop-friendly melodies inspired a similar style in numerous hip-pop records (e.g., Nelly) and helped make rap music a mainstream fixture.

The group had several non-musical characteristics. Each member had a stage-name that ended with the surname, "Bone" (e.g., "Wish Bone"). To keep track of them, here is a list:

* Bryon "Bizzy Bone" McCane: the one who was kidnapped as a child by his father and rescued when a picture of him was shown after a screening of Adam, a made-for-television movie about the kidnapped and murdered son of America's Most Wanted host John Walsh. As an adult he was interviewed on America's Most Wanted and he wrote a song for the episode called, "AMW."

* Anthony "Krayzie Bone" Henderson: the one that looked like Layzie and went to jail briefly for accidentally shooting Wish Bone in the leg with a 12-gauge shotgun.

* Charles "Wish Bone" Scruggs: the bigger one who looked like the last person you would want to accidentally shoot in the leg with a 12-gauge shotgun.

* Steven "Layzie Bone" Howse: the one that looked like Krayzie, but didn't accidentally shoot Wish Bone in the leg.

* Stanley "Flesh-n-Bone" Howse: Layzie's brother, who joined the group later and who went to prison not for shooting anyone but for using a gun in a threatening manner ("assault with a deadly weapon," as they say). He served eight years of an 11-year sentence.

And they sure had a look.

The group began as a quasi-horrorcore, gangsta-minded quartet in Cleveland, Ohio, in the early '90s. They released their debut, Faces Of Death, in 1993 (under the name B.O.N.E. Enterpri$e), but soon after they were signed by Eazy-E to the rapper's Ruthless Records. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony made their Ruthless debut in 1994 with Creepin' On Ah Come Up. The EP's singles, "Thuggish Ruggish" and "Foe Tha Love Of $," were received positively. Their full-length E.1999 Eternal soon followed in 1995. The album topped the Billboard charts and was highlighted by two singles, the Grammy Award-winning "Tha Crossroads" and "1st Of Da Month." The album was also nominated for the newly created Best Rap Album Grammy Award. However, it was recorded and released in the midst of the illness and subsequent death of mentor Eazy-E from complications due to the AIDS virus.

The group released a double-album, The Art Of War, in 1997. The album sold over 4 million copies, and featured the hit singles "Look Into My Eyes" and "If I Could Teach The World." However, tensions both within the group and between the group and Eazy-E's widow Tomica Woods-Wright (who had inherited Ruthless Records) led to dissension. Bizzy Bone did not appear at several performances and public appearances. The group released BTNHResurrection in 2000, the same year Flesh-n-Bone began serving an 11-year prison sentence. They released Thug World Order in 2002, but both this album and its predecessor experienced declining sales. The albums were also less coherent, as a litany of producers contributed to each album (in contrast to E.1999 Eternal and The Art Of War, which were primarily produced by DJ U-Neek).

By 2006's Thug Stories, the group was officially recording as a trio (Bizzy Bone was officially out of the group). The group had been released from Ruthless Records and was now recording for Koch Records. The three remaining members attempted a "comeback" in 2007 with Strength & Loyalty, which was released by producer Swizz Beatz's imprint Full Surface, under Interscope Records. The album was characterized by a number of high profile guests, including Akon, Mariah Carey and Yolanda Adams, and production by DJ Toomp, Jermaine Dupri and, amongst others. The album went gold.

In 2008 Flesh-n-Bone was released from prison and all five members reunited to record an eighth album, Uni-5: The World's Enemy. The album was scheduled to be released in 2010 via the group's own imprint, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Worldwide, under Warner Brothers. ~Dan Nishimoto

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