By Paul Russell
10/27/2002 11:03:36 AM
Tags and topics realted to this article include Wish Bone.
Las Vegas Weekly spoke with Wish Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony who says he is thankful to still have a spot in the ever-competitive hip-hop scene.
Hip-hop collective Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (appearing at the House of Blues on Oct. 25) rose to prominence in the mid-1990s by offering a simple yet effective twist to the already familiar formula of rap music. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, the onetime hotbed of doo-wop, the Bone Thugs wedded R&B to rap, creating a more fluid, less staccato style of vocal delivery for their gangsta-inspired verse. "We never wanted to be like nobody else," Bone Thug's Wish Bone says. "We always tried to look different. We didn't want to sound like the average rapper."
With the hip-hop power structure centralized on the two coasts (in New York and Los Angeles) the members of Bone Thugs—Flesh-N-Bone, Krayzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Layzie Bone and Wish Bone—headed for California, home of the canine-inspired hip-hop community. There, the Thugs targeted one of their heroes, Eazy E, an erstwhile member of the rap giants N.W.A., and the satirical subject of Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg. "We used to listen to Eazy E," Wish Bone confirms. "N.W.A., Ghetto Boys. We used to listen to nothing but street shit back in the day before we came up."
After a near cross-coast pursuit that ended back in Cleveland, the Bone Thugs convinced Eazy E to sign them to his label after a backstage audition. Placing them under his supervision, the older rapper played an important role for the youthful group. "Eazy E was like our big brother," Wish Bone says. "He introduced us to the game and schooled us on how to do things."
The Bone Thugs promptly entered the studio and almost immediately produced successful results. Their first single, "Thuggish Ruggish Bone," sold more than 5 million copies and, with an accompanying EP and second single that featured Eazy E, the Bone Thugs were suddenly rising hip-hop stars. Sadly, their mentor passed away just as their first album, "E 1999 Eternal," was released. Eazy E died of AIDS-related complications in 1995. "He left us a little too early," Wish Bone says wistfully.
Promoted ceaselessly by MTV, "E 1999 Eternal" and its single "Tha Crossroads" brought them incredible commercial success. The rap collective quickly acted on its newfound fortune. Flesh-N-Bone debuted a solo album, while the group released the double disc "The Art of War" in 1997. Although a disappointment to some fans and critics, its monetary intake established the Bone Thugs as hip-hop royalty.
Individual members—Krayzie, Bizzy, Flesh-N-Bone—continued to produce solo efforts as well as work on other projects. By the late '90s, there was a glut of Bone Thugs-related projects circulating. "It was part of our plan," Wish Bone reveals. "And the world kind of took it the wrong way. The whole bottom line about it is, it's money. You got to get it."
Whether by over-saturation or the MTV generation's fickle appetite, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony discovered that they were out of style almost as quickly as they had found it. Although they banded back for a reunion album in 2000, the effort was generally dismissed. But with the recent success of Nelly, whose vocal stylings are particularly reminiscent of the Bone Thugs, the group has reason to once again be optimistic.
Their current role headlining the Grey Goose tour has been a surprise, with the original 30-date tour receiving an extension. "Yeah, it's been beautiful. The 30 dates we did already was real off the hook. We rocked each and every one of 'em," Wish Bone surmises. "We always go out and do our thing, and we always get shown love."
A new album, "Thug World Order," is also pending. "Nothing's really different. It's just Bone Thugs," Wish Bone states. The only modification seems to be a natural maturation. "Our conversation pieces got changed a little bit. We're grown men. We got different things to talk about."
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