Cleveland raps!

Ohio’s favorite hip-hop sons celebrate 20th anniversary of classic album

Bones Thugs-N-Harmony, the original five: (from left) Bizzy Bone, Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone, Flesh-N-Bone and Wish Bone.

Bones Thugs-N-Harmony, the original five: (from left) Bizzy Bone, Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone, Flesh-N-Bone and Wish Bone.

Photo by Peter Sobat

PREVIEW: Bone Thugs-n-Harmony perform E. 1999 Eternal in its entirety Friday, Feb. 20, 8:30 p.m., at the Senator Theatre.
Tickets: $25 (at Diamond W, Blaze N' J's, and Theatre 517 Main

The five Bone “brothers” of Cleveland rap crew Bone Thugs-N-Harmony—Bizzy, Layzie, Flesh-N, Krayzie and Wish—have already cemented their place as godfathers of Ohio hip-hop and as one of the best-selling rap groups in the U.S. But, in a somewhat elusive series of interviews over the last year or so, it appears the group has plans to put an exclamation point on its legacy.

What we know for sure is that all five members are reunited for the moment to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their classic Grammy-nominated album, E. 1999 Eternal (featuring their biggest hit, “Tha Crossroads,” which actually took home the Grammy for Best Rap single), with a U.S. tour, performing the album in its entirety at each show. What isn’t confirmed officially, but has been hinted at by the group, is that the Bone Thugs are planning to release a final recording in 2015, a (possibly two-disc) album titled E. 1999 Legends (with everyone from Mariah Carey to Kendrick Lamar rumored as guests), and that the plan is to auction off one copy of the album, with a starting bid of $1 million (with mass release to follow). The CN&R caught up with Wish Bone via email to talk about BTNH’s place in hip-hop history and what they have planned for the new year.

CN&R: How does it feel to be celebrating E. 1999 Eternal 20 years later?

Wish Bone: First and foremost, [we feel] blessed. We all just really appreciate that the hard work we put in is being shared again with [the] Bones’ family/fans. Everyone gets to come out and hear it and see us perform it.

How did the idea come about to celebrate the anniversary with a tour in this format?

Basically, a lot of our hits come from that record. It’s one of the biggest records of our career. We’ve never done this before, and to get a chance to relive it is incredible.

How do you feel hip-hop has changed since E. 1999 Eternal was released?

It’s changed a lot. Virally, the Internet has made the opportunity for getting a lot more people out there. This is good and bad. The good: Real artists can be heard with less of the struggle. The bad: People who don’t deserve to be artists are clogging up the airwaves.

E. 1999 Eternal producer and BTNH mentor Eazy-E passed away just before the album was released. How much of an influence does his death still have on you?

It has a great deal of effect on us. And I would like to say for the rest of the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony guys, without Eazy-E, we totally believe that hip-hop would not at all be what it is today. Eazy-E was just as important—in another lane—as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

How do you view your influence on hip-hop today?

You couldn’t really put a finger on it. It’s everywhere. I don’t think music would be where it is at today, if it wasn’t for Bone. Ninety percent of the game has a piece of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony—R&B, rap, hip-hop, country, all of it.

Artists like Blueprint, Illogic, Stalley and J. Rawls have joined BTNH in building Ohio's hip-hop legacy. What's the scene in your home state like today?

I mean, ever since Bone Thugs hit the scene, we opened the door wide open. In my opinion, you just have to stay consistent and have a real true raw talent. No copycats, please! It gets boring. And the world can’t sleep on my new artist by the name of Caine, right out of Cleveland, Ohio!

Considering your history of songs on the subject, what's your take on the increasing legalization of recreational marijuana use?

To me, I think it’s a good thing because there are too many people in jail for marijuana-related crimes, when I think we should be going after the real criminals. It’s recreational so what’s the harm in making your own choices? It’s a choice.

There are stories going around that BTNH is in the process of completing its last group project, and celebrating it in a very special fashion. Can you explain more what you have planned for the last album?

Well, it’s still in the working process. We don’t want to give away too much. You just have to wait and see.