They sold more than 15 million records. They recorded with The Notorious B.I.G. They recorded with 2Pac. They won a Grammy. They redirected hip-hop’s sonic direction.
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Only one rap group has these impressive feats on its extensive resume: Bone thugs-n-harmony. Simply put, the Cleveland quartet is one of the most important groups in hip-hop history; breaking down doors for other Midwestern rappers; launching their successful Mo Thugs record company and introducing mind-splitting, rapid-fire rapping and angelic harmonies with melodic production to the genre.
With their newest and most intense album to date, “Thug World Order,” Krayzie Bone, Wish Bone, Layzie Bone and Bizzy Bone come full circle with an idea they’ve been cultivating since their formative years in Ohio.
“It’s basically what we’ve been trying to organize ever since we came out,” Krayzie says of the mission for the group’s new album. “We wanted to have a following of a whole lot of thugs and if you listen to what is going on in the industry today, that’s all people are talking about and claiming to be, thugs. You haven’t heard nothing about gangsters. We were trying to create a Thug World Order that we’d be running. We aren’t finished with it yet.”
The group’s latest musical masterpiece, “Get Up & Get It,” features R&B sensation 3LW on its heavenly hook. As has been the case with several other Bone singles, “Get Up & Get It” will have listeners striving to get the best out of their lives, regardless of how bleak things may look.
“It’s going to inspire everybody,” Wish says. “If you are looking at yourself in a messed up situation and you want it to be better, if you listen to this song, it will motivate you to want to do something.” Adds Krayzie: “It’s one of those songs where you wake up, hear it and you want to get up and get outside because you think you’re missing something.”
Throughout the group’s tumultuous career, which has been marked by the AIDS-related death of mentor Eazy-E and well-publicized feuds with their recording home, Ruthless Records, Bone has remained strong and focused on its mission to deliver strong, positive messages to its fans, which number in the millions.
On the stirring, gorgeous “If I Fall,” the group pulls on emotions like no other rap outfit can. Wish, in particular, stresses that giving up is not acceptable, that each of us is blessed in our own way and that God can help with any problem we may encounter.
“It’s nothing that we plan to do, write a song that’s going to touch people to the heart,” Wish explains. “We just heard the beat and that’s what came out. It’s a beautiful song and it’s something that people can feel.”
As the members of Bone know all too well, life sometimes brings stressful situations that cause people to test their faith. They address such trying times on “Home,” which features a well-placed sample from Phil Collins’ “Take Me Home”.
Much like Collins’ music, Bone hopes people use this song as an escape, something fans can use to ease whatever stressors are causing them strife. “Sometimes things drain you,” Krayzie says. “You get tired of the bullshit, of arguing, of being tired of shit that you shouldn’t even be fighting for. Sometimes you just want to get away, go home and just chill, disappear.”
“There was a time when we were back up in Cleveland in our Mo Thugs office,” Krayzie recalls. “This was something that Cleveland people weren’t used to, young, black dudes our age pulling up in the hood in new Mercedes-Benzes. We had houses and an office in a white neighborhood. Of course the police, by not knowing what business we’re in, they’re going to get on us. They had Mo Thugs Records up under investigation, but we were all about the music. That’s one of the reasons we had to bounce from Cleveland. It was hot. We couldn’t trust anybody. People down there tried to set us up. We didn’t want to get back into that bullshit no more.”
But the drama Bone endured wasn’t limited to people who wondered about their line of business. Each of the Bone members has endured stressful and painful encounters with women fraudulently claiming a member of the multi-platinum rap group impregnated them. Bone addresses the situation head-on with “Not My Baby,” one of “Thug World Order’s” most searing selections.
“When we were young, everybody wanted a piece of us,” Wish says. “They’d never seen it like we did it when we made it in Cleveland. We were some damn fools. You get more and more girls and every girl we ran into was like, “Oh, I’m pregnant. They wanted money but we came to find out they were lying.”
Even when the truth was known, the women didn’t even apologize for putting the rappers through the legal wringer. They were like, “Oh well. Thank you for the money you were paying,” Krayzie says. “We had to say something on that because we love the ladies and everything, but there should be something out there to protect the fellas. Once we go into court on that, it’s over.”
Even with all this hometown drama, Bone still has love for its city. With “Cleveland Is The City,” the group shows its loyalty and gives its hometown major love. “You can’t ever forget where you come from,” Wish says. “Sometimes people where you come from believe that you have forgotten. It’s just a little reminder that we’re appreciative and that we love where we come from. We’re never going to forget that.” With its heartfelt lyrics and varied subject matter, “Thug World Order” makes bold creative statements. The same can be said for the collection’s crushing beats, which were handled by LT Hutton, DJ U-Neek and the Platinum Brothers.
The anger nearly palpable on each song’s lyrics also comes through on the album’s music, which has a menacing, intimidating feel. Once the producers heard the lyrical direction Bone was pursuing, they created dark soundscapes to match the words flowing from each of the Bone’s mouths.
Although Bone thugs-n-harmony has been releasing albums for nearly a decade, they still sound hungry and driven on “Thug World Order.” Whereas other rap crews home in on a signature sound or outlook, Bone has consistently updated and refined its approach since releasing the independent album “Faces Of Death” in the early 1990s.
Since then, their albums - - 1994’s “Creepin’ On Ah Come Up” EP, 1995’s “E. 1999 Eternal,” 1997’s “The Art of War” and 2000’s “BTNHResurrection” - - have earned them critical acclaim, millions of record sales and have inspired a throng of imitators.
They also picked up a Grammy for their breakthrough hit, “ Tha Crossroads,” along the way. Krayzie, Layzie and Bizzy have all released critically acclaimed solo albums and the entire crew will appear in “Ghetto Cowboy,” a film named after a song from one of the crew’s three successful Mo Thugs compilations.
Bizzy and Layzie have established themselves as actors in well-received independent films and upcoming solo albums from each group member, as well as additional Mo Thugs compilations, are also in the works. Now, with “Thug World Order” ready, Bone thugs-n-harmony is set to change the game once again, reminding the world where rap got its “Thug” fascination and delivering some of the most advanced music the genre has to offer.
“We’re just getting a handle on this whole “Thug” persona going through the game,” Wish says. That’s us and if you aren’t part of our “Thug World Order‚” you shouldn’t be screaming “Thug”. Watch your mouths…Bone is coming. Again.
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