When you look back at the career of Bone Thugs N Harmony, it’s immediately clear that no other group has experienced a run in this industry anywhere close to what they have. Looking over the last twenty-five years, they’ve amassed more accolades and honors than most groups can imagine, and have an arsenal of hit albums and songs to match the love they continue to get around the world. it all began with a dream of success; a desire to do something they love, a mission to escape the madness; the drama; the lives they had been living in Cleveland, Ohio Their start wasn’t the easiest by far; certainly receiving love from many, but also heavily criticized for the easily noticeable difference in style and flow. They’ve spoken in past interviews of being boo’ed, gonged, and all else you can imagine in terms of rejection, but they obviously had the talent that pushed them to major success in the music industry. Having studied the rap game like so many others their ages, Anthony Henderson, Steven Howse, Stanley Howse, Charles Scruggs, and Bryon McCane were motivated, and clearly destined to accomplish their wildest dreams as rappers. As the story has been told so many times, they scraped up their last to take a Greyhound bus in search of their soon-to-be mentor, Eric ‘Eazy-E” Wright. What would literally get the average person tossed to the curb like a stalker got them the opportunities of a lifetime. Even following Wright’s untimely passing, they managed to pick up the pieces and reach the masses in rhyme.
This article is as much a treat for us as it is for you. I happily confess to having been one of their biggest fans throughout the past 25 years, sometimes spending my last as a teenager to buy their latest releases, and being the first in line to purchase tickets for their shows. Even today, I make it a point to get out to any show they have that I’m close enough to. Having had the opportunity to meet and interview the fellas various times over the years, they’ve always been the coolest and most down to earth. While they may not have always been the most easy to tame from a management perspective, they still stand as a part of that dying breed of the artist development stage. They treat their fans with the utmost respect, which sure has a lot to do with why after 25 years and no so much new material over the past few years, they’re touring much of the year, and selling out shows to throngs of fans. They don’t miss a beat when they perform, and they’re sure to give their audiences a great show. I, like many others I’m sure, know have it in them, even in today’s hip-hop culture, to make power moves, but what happens for the collective still remains to be seen. Of course, they do well on their own as solo artists respectively, but most will agree that their power is as a full unit. Together, Krayzie, Layzie, Bizzy, Wish, and Flesh have built a legacy that can’t be touched, no matter how much any artist behind them tries. The more they’ve been united over the years, the better they have done.
With this article, we’ll simply take a look back at some of their albums, along with their solo efforts and side ventures that have propelled their careers to amazing heights. We’ll do this in timeline form to give a better glimpse into the work they’ve done in this time. Certainly, we can’t hit everything, as they’ve done so much, but we’ll get a good bit of it. Their career has been extensive to say the least, and they’ve made a mark not just in Cleveland, but within the entire industry that surely can’t be matched. So sit back and enjoy the ride!
Faces of Death
Released in 1993 via Stoney Burke Recordings, Faces of Death was Bone Thugs’ introduction to the recording industry through the release of their own album. At this point, they were recording under the moniker B.O.N.E. Enterprise. The level of success in this project depends on who you talk to. Naturally, some will look at it as though it wasn’t necessarily successful for the group, but we certainly beg to differ. One thing to know, for anyone pursuing a dream, is that everything you do falls in place in terms of steps in reaching your goal. This project ultimately led to the group revamping some things, and seeking out legendary rapper Eazy-E, and we all certainly know what that led to!!! Major success; simply put. This was the beginning for Bone Thugs, and it turned them into major superstars, so if you ask us, it was Uber-successful.
1994: Creepin On Ah Come Up...
Without a doubt, 1994 what a breakout year for Bone Thugs N Harmony. They had now been working for a few years, perfecting their craft and trying to “make it” in the rap game. As their world of followers already know, they hopped a Greyhound bus to Los Angeles, CA with hopes of meeting rapper Eazy-E. Using every bit of money they had remaining, they made it, only to learn that Eazy was actually heading to Cleveland for a show. Having already rapped over the phone for him, they knew in their hearts that he would want to see them and be able to do something for them. So back to Cleveland it was, and their inclination was indeed correct. Upon connecting with him backstage at his concert in the city, one thing obviously led to another, and things took off in the direction they hoped. Some months later, they were right back here in Cleveland; this time shooting the video for Thuggish Ruggish Bone, and their debut EP was preparing to release. It all represented so much for the fellas. They had finally achieved what some never expected, but what they and their true supporters knew was inevitable. Not only were they releasing their first commercial project; it was being done with a legendary musical figure they had looked up to for as long as they had known. After working feverishly over the previous four years, it was a celebration that was well deserved. The city of Cleveland stepped behind them as well in true support, with thousands upon thousands turning out for the video shoot with hopes of spotting not only the group members, but Eazy-E. The release of Creepin On Ah Come Up marked a moment in history. Sure, the city has nurtured a number of artists and celebrities in the past, but it was much different for Bone Thugs N Harmony. Even if they didn’t realize it at the moment, they were making a point to so many others in their respective community and those surrounding that they, too, could make it out with their talent. With the release of the EP’s second single, ‘Foe Tha Love of Money, ‘Creepin’ went on to sell millions, thus making Krayzie, Layzie, Bizzy, Wish, and Flesh bonafied superstars. Through ‘Creepin’, they managed to tell the stories of their lives through song, relating to so many growing up around the world. ...and still, it was only the beginning of what was to come.
1995: E. 1999 Eternal
Til’ this very day, E. 1999 Eternal is heralded as one of the greatest rap albums of all times. Even after 23 years, the album is just as relevant today as it was when it was released in June 1995. ‘Eternal’ represented a lot for Bone Thugs N Harmony. Just a year prior, they reached high-level fame with the release of their debut EP, Creepin’ On Ah Come Up. The world was watching to see what would come of the group. Would they live up to the hype of their first commercial release? Could they truly hold their own on a full-length album? Were they just a gimmick like so many others to come before them? They had a lot to prove in putting together ‘Eternal’, and it almost came to a screeching halt with the sudden sickness and death of their mentor, Eazy-E. Admitted to Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California in February 1995, Eric Wright announced March 16, 1995 in a public statement that he had contracted AIDS. Before the month was over, Eric Wright passed away from the deadly disease, leaving the world shocked and saddened at his sudden demise. He passed away March 26, 1995. Wright’s sickness and subsequent death left so many unanswered questions ... how did he contract the virus, how long had he had it, and what would happen to everything he had worked for and built? What would happen to Bone Thugs N Harmony, now that the sole person responsible for their worldwide success was dead?
Despite their grief and sadness, the group members found a way to keep moving forward in their despair. They released E.. 1999 Eternal July 25, 1995 to immediate success. Sonically, the album was in an entirely different place than ‘Creepin’, and sonically on a higher playing field, if you will. It was genre-bending, and a far cry from anything else you’d heard in hip-hop, even from them, yet, it Was a true representation of each member and their own styles and personalities, which struck an immediate chord with fans around the world. Picking up right where they left off on ‘Creepin’, ‘Eternal’ offered more of the sinister flow fans had come to love them for. The album led with the smash hit ‘1st Of Tha Month’, and singles to follow were ‘East 1999’ and ‘Tha Crossroads’, a full-on remix that paid respects to Eazy-E, as well as friend, Wallace Laird III, and Wish’s uncle Charles. The single ‘Tha Crossroads’ has been certified 2x platinum, and the group had the honor of performing the single LIVE via the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. E. 1999 Eternal was also the launching pad for Mo Thugs Records and their Mo Thugs Family. Their protégés at the time, Poetic Hustlaz, appeared on Shotz 2 Tha Double Glock. The album was later re-released, replacing the original version of Crossroad with the remixed Tha Crossroads. E. 1999 Eternal has gone on to be one of the groups most successful efforts. Commemorating the album’s twentieth anniversary in 2015, the group successfully toured the world, performing each track from the album as a way of thanking their fans. Take a moment to check out the singles and videos plugged in below...
1997: The Art of War
Released July 29, 1997, The Art of War marked a pivotal moment for Bone Thugs N Harmony as a group. It was their first true album minus input from rap legend Eazy E. It was an opportunity for them to prove their worth in the game, so to speak. The world needed to see they could maintain in Eazy’s absence. Released as a double-LP, it also marked their first collaborations with other artists on their LPs. The thugs led with one of hip-hop’s biggest collaborations in Thug Luv featuring 2Pac. Several singles from the album, including “If I Could Teach the World”, and “Look Into My Eyes” quickly pushed the album to multi-platinum status. “Look Into My Eyes” was also the lead-off single for the motion picture “Batman & Robin”. The track, as did much of the album, focused on the concept of other rappers & artists, commonly referred to by the group as “clones”, taking and running with their style. “The album tracks “Ready 4 War” featuring Mr. Majesty and ‘U Ain’t Bone” also addressed this, with the group going at Twista & Crucial Conflict. Even with the album fairing quite positively, it was still plagued with issues, mostly stemming from Bizzy Bone missing several tour dates. His absence on various shows led to waning ticket sales. In addition, several tracks were noted to be changed due to Tomica Wright, who was now running Ruthless Records, looking to move the group in a different direction. Specifically, Thug Luv was altered, which originally featured 2Pac and Sylk-E Fyne, and also included a different verse from Bizzy Bone. Several other tracks labeled as pre-released versions have surfaced, including “If I Could Teach The World” and “Family Tree”. The cassette tape of the album did not feature “Whom Die They Lie”. The album, nevertheless, was very well-received by fans, and solidified the group as bonafide hip-hop stars. In 2016, the group toured the U.S., performing the album in its entirety at each performance.
Following a two-year break, Bone Thugs returned with BTNHResurrection. The album was much an answer to fans who had rumored the group to be broken up and separated. The lead single, ‘Resurrection (Paper, Paper)’, addressed that very thing. With this single, they made it emphatically clear they were here, and had no plan of going anywhere. The album performed well for the group, quickly reaching platinum status in sales. The greatest difference in this release from their previous projects was the prominent presence of Flesh-n-Bone. Flesh appeared throughout nearly every track on the album, whereas he appeared less frequently on previous releases. It would mark his last foray with Bone Thugs for nearly a decade, as he was soon sentenced to eleven years behind bars. Also released as a singles were “Can’t Give It Up” and “Change The World” featuring Big B.
Thug World Order
Released in late 2002, Thug World Order was the final album contractually binding the group to Ruthless Records. The album’s release led with the single “Money Money”, on which the group depicted a full-on bank heist, and also featured the singles “Get Up & Get It” featuring 3LW, and “Home” which featured Phil Collins. While the album didn't necessarily receive the best promotion, it did considerably well for the group.
Bone 4 Life
Released in 2005, Bone-4-Life was an internet-only EP release. I can remember ordering this project through DJ-Uneek’s label, and waiting “Impatiently” for it to come in the mail (laughing).
Featuring a handful of tracks, and an appearance from K-Ci of Jodeci, the project was something, in the minds of many fans, to fill the gap between releases, and offer a few unreleased tracks during the wait. Like many of Bone Thugs’ impromptu releases throughout the years, the album was revamped, likely by fans, and different tracks have been added to the playlist, depending on where you search for the album online.
The original mailing at the time of release featured 6 tracks.
Released in 2006, Thug Stories was Bone Thugs’ first release following their 2002 effort, “Thug World Order”. Not only was it their first release away from Ruthless Records, but also their first release as a unit of 3, given Flesh-n-Bone still being incarcerated, and Bizzy Bone being away from the group at the time. Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, and Wish Bone has struck a deal with Koch Records. With Thug Stories, even with two members gone, Krayzie, Layzie, and Wish were able to maintain the integrity of the group while showcasing their growing and flawless rhyming abilities. Probably labeled as one of their more melodic releases, the album leaned more on their abilities to harmonize. Even still, Thug Stories held its certified bangers, including ‘Intro”, “Fire”, “So Sad”, and “This Life”.
Strength & Loyalty
2007 was an amazing year for Bone Thugs. Following the release of 2006’s Thug Stories, Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, and Wish Bone signed a new deal with Interscope Records and Swizz Beatz’ Full Surface Records. The result of that signing was Strength & Loyalty, a carefully crafted LP spotlighting their ever-energetic flows, and pairing them with one of the greatest hip-hop producers in the game. Bone Thugs have long-ventured outside of their comfort zone of DJ Uneek, but in this instance, they truly hit the mark. Swizz had clearly done his homework at learning their styles and putting together music that would complement their abilities. The album featured a bevy of guests, including Bow Wow, Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Yolanda Adams, Will.I.Am, The Game, and more. One of the album’s heavy pleasers was “C-Town” featuring Twista. Given their troubled pasts with each other, it still was a shock to some that they were working together, and so well at that. Surely, any beef amongst each other had long been rectified, as he and Layzie collaborated on tracks prior to “C-Town”, yet, it was definitely a stand-out for this LP. Also, the album’s lead-off, “I Tried”, was a certified hit itself, featuring rapper Akon. A film, also titled “I Tried”, was later released, depicting just how their lives could have turned out, had they not made that storied bus trip, and ultimately met Eazy E to sign with Ruthless Records.
UNI5: The World’s Enemy
Uni5: The World’s Enemy was probably one of the most anticipated albums from Bone Thugs n Harmony. It marked the first time in over ten years that the entire crew of 5 have worked together on a single release. The last was 2000’s BTNHResurrection, which was recorded throughout much of 1999. It appeared the release of Flesh-n-Bone from prison had restored a sense of unity in the group, and they all were back in tune together, ready to do damage once again. Signing with Warner Bros., they were ready to work this project like no other, and they definitely put in their grind. Prior to the release of the LP, the group dropped an exclusive mixtape, leading up to the album’s release. Uni5: The world’s Enemy saw four singles released: “See Me Chine”, “Rebirth”, “Meet Me In The Sky”, and “Gone” featuring Ricco Barrino. While the album took time to pick up speed in terms of sales, it definitely served the purpose for long-time fans who has long been waiting for all 5 thugs to reunite together and release an album.
World War III
Released in 2013, The Art of War: World War III featured a three-man line up, much like Strength & Loyalty, but this time featured Bizzy Bone, Layzie Bone, and Flesh-n-Bone. Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone appeared only where unreleased tracks were utilized, and on “Everything 100”, which featured Ty Dolla $ign.
20th Anniversary & The Unexpected
“The Cypher” came at a time when people, even some die-hard fans, were beginning to count the group out. In celebration of the group having been in the business for twenty year, Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Flesh-n-Bone, and Wish Bone cam together to release their ‘20th Anniversary Cypher”. The video, which originally debuted via World Star Hip-Hop, features the group collected around a fire pit, each spitting their own nearly two-and-a-half minute verse. Check it out for yourself….
Flesh-n-Bone: T.H.U.G.S. [Trues Humbly United Gathering’ Souls]
Flesh-n-Bone was officially the first member of Bone Thugs n Harmony to bless the game with a solo effort. Given the fact he was not initially signed to Ruthless Records when the group signed their deal with Eazy, he was free and clear to do his thing as far as pursuing a solo career. Flesh signed on the dotted line with Def Jam Records, and released Trues Humbly United Gatherin’ Souls on November 19, 1996. T.H.U.G.S. also served as one of the first official releases for Mo Thugs Records; the first being Mo Thugs Family Scriptures, which released two weeks prior on November 5, 1996. Within this project, Flesh boasted collaborations with the likes of Rev. Run [World So Cruel], B.G. Knoccout [Coming 2 Serve You], and Fat Joe & Big Pun [No Mercy]. Layzie Bone popped up on “Northcoast”, while he and Krayzie Bone both dropped in on “Playa Hater”.
Bizzy Bone: Heaven’z Movie
Bizzy Bone was next in line to drop his debut solo effort. Heaven’z Movie was released to the world October 6, 1998. Obviously with Bizzy being the more “troubled” member of the group when it came down to life in general, Heaven’z Movie was more of an emotional confessional for Bizzy, allowing him to release some of his own demons he had been dealing with in life. His debut single, “Thugz Cry”, was naturally a hit with Bone fans, and did well in pushing the album to worldwide acclaim. The music video featured Bone Thugs n Harmony members. The album’s second single, “Nobody Can Stop Me” definitely took the album to that next level, as he addressed his own personal life, namely his molestation as a child. The single sampled Patti LaBelle’s “If Only You Knew”. The album as a whole touched on a number of other topics, and truthfully is one of the more “socially conscious” releases within the Bone camp. Overall, the album was extremely successful for Bizzy, and was the beginning of great things to come.
Krayzie Bone: Thugs Mentality 1999
Of each member of Bone Thugs n Harmony, I think it’s safe to say that Krayzie Bone held the most anticipated debut solo release. Of all the members, he was always seen as the one who “most” had everything together. Whether it was lyrically, or in terms of production, the expectation was always that he would soar in every department, and have an amazing debut. I don’t think anyone would have expected him to release his debut as a double LP. Of course, the group had recently succeeded with the double-LP The Art of War, so that was a trend he obviously looked to continue with his solo debut. Krayzie released Thug Mentality 1999 on April 6, 1999, and fans went absolutely crazy over the release. With 38 tracks between two discs, nothing went untouched in terms of topic and content. Racing through each track with the rapid-flow we’d come to love him for, Krayzie traded verses with a variety of special guests, including Da Brat, Mariah Carey, Fat Joe & Big Pun, Eightball & MJG, Gangsta Boo, E40, and so many others. The release quickly went platinum, and was an immediate success. Singles included the title track, Thug Mentality, and Paper.
Layzie Bone: L-Burna: Thug By Nature
Thug By Mature was yet another highly anticipated solo release within the BTNH camp, this time from the #1 Assassin himself, Layzie Bone. Releasing under the pseudonym L-Burna, Layzie delivered just what fans were looking for and had become accustomed to with Bone Thugs n Harmony. Guests on the album included west coast luminary WC, legendary R&B singer and Guy alum Aaron Hall, and a highlight collaboration with Lay, Big Chan, & blood-brother and Bone Thugs member Flesh-n-Bone. Singles included the Baby S-laced “Make My Day” and “Listen”. Another highlight was the Bonus addition of “Money On Da Wood”, which featured Mo Thugs alum Skant, E-Mortal Thugs (also Mo Thugs alum which includes blood-brother Stew), Freaky-G, and Bizzy Bone.
Additional Solo Releases:
Bizzy Bone: The Gift, Alpha & Omega, The Beginning and The End, Speaking in Tongues, The Story, Midwest Cowboy, Trials and Tribulations, A Song for You, Crossroads: 2010
Krayzie Bone: Thug On Da Line, Gemini: Good Vs. Evil, Leathaface: The Legend, Chasing the Devil: Temptation, Eternal Legend, E. 1999: The Leathaface Project, The Fixtape: Lyrical Paraphernalia, Quick Fix: Less Drama, More Music, The Mixtape Vol. 2, The Fixtape Vol. 3, The Fixtape vol. 4: Under The Influence
Layzie Bone: The New Revolution, Cleveland, How A Thug Was Born, Thugz Nation, The Definition, The Meaning, Law of Attraction
Flesh-n-Bone: 5th Dog Let Loose, Blaze of Glory
Joint Albums within Bone Thugs: Bone Brothers [Bizzy Bone, Layzie Bone], Bone Brothers 2 [Bizzy Bone, Layzie Bone], Bone Brothers 3 [Bizzy Bone, Layzie Bone], New Waves [Krayzie Bone, Bizzy Bone], Still Creepin On Ah Come Up,
Joint Albums outside Bone Thugs: Thug Brothers [Layzie Bone, Young Noble], Thug Brothers 2 [Krayzie Bone, Young Noble], Thug Brothers 3 [Krayzie Bone, Young Noble],
Mo Thugs Records
1996: Mo Thugs Family: Mo Thug Family Scriptures
It had now been a few years since Bone Thugs-N-Harmony had blown the lid off the rap industry with their innovative styles and flows. Upon realizing their own dreams, and promised those riding with them along the way they’d work to assist them with making their way into the game as well. Through their promises came Mo Thugs Records. The first of many releases through the years to come was Mo Thugs Family Scriptures. Featuring groups like Tré, II Tru, Poetic Hustlaz, Graveyard Shift, Souljah Boy, and Ken Dawg, the compilation was an immediate success, and the spark of a relationship the group had established with Relativity Records. The album’s lead-off single was the Earth Wind & Fire sampled “Thug Devotion”. They shot the visual right here in Cleveland at the city’s popular Gordon Park. Additional singles included Tre’s “Take Your Time” and “Here With Me”. Not only was it a great look for the city; it was the spark of Bone Thugs N Harmony as businessmen.
1998: Mo Thugs Family: Mo Thugs Family Reunion
With things now off to a good start, the thugs have returned with the label’s second compilation effort, which introduced a bevy of new artists to the world, including Felecia, MT5, Thug Queen, Powder P, 4-U-2 Know, Cat Cody, and Potion. The single “All Good” featuring Felecia an Krayzie Bone became an instant success, and solidified a powerful status for the growing label. The single, “Ghetto Cowboy”, also featuring Felecia alongside Krayzie Bone, Thug Queen, Powder P, and Layzie Bone, shot to the top of the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart, and became the biggest single for the compilation. Other popular tracks included “Mighty Mighty Warrior” with Krayzie Bone, Wish Bone, Thug Queen, Felecia, and Souljah Boy, “Riot” with Flesh-n-Bone, and “Mighty Mo Thug” with Layzie Bone and Souljah Boy.
2000: Mo Thugs III: The Mothership
With the release of Mo Thug III: The Mothership, Layzie Bone took more of a leadership role within Mo Thugs Family, with Krayzie Bone venturing out to launch his own label. Much like previous releases within the label, this release launched the careers of several new artists, including Seldom Seen, Ra Desperidos, Emmortal Thugs, and more. The lead-off single for “The Mothership” was “Did He Really Wanna”, which featured Ra Desperidos and Layzie Bone, and was followed by “This Ain’t Livin’” featuring Felecia and Layzie Bone.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony have appeared on a variety of soundtracks throughout the years. We’ve added a few videos below of some of their biggest contributions…..
The members of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony have managed to complete some of the industry’s hottest collaborations over the years. Check out a few below…
Hopefully, you’ve all enjoyed what we’ve shown here of Bone Thugs’ amazing career. They are certainly in the prime of their careers, solo and united, and the best is yet to come. We’re looking forward to what new comes from Cleveland’s thugs.