Courtesy of Ryan West
After multiple arrests, numerous break-ups and break-downs, and a member being incarcerated for about eight years, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is trying to find peace while apart.
Since rapping together in high school and releasing its debut album in 1993, the Grammy Award-winning, Cleveland-based group, made up of brothers Layzie Bone and Flesh-n-Bone, their cousin Wish Bone, and Krayzie Bone and Bizzy Bone, has dealt with its share of drama.
Anthony Henderson, known as Krayzie Bone, and Charles C. Scruggs, known as Wish Bone, parted from the group in April 2011. They recently finished a 27-date tour primarily in Canada in support of their solo efforts and label, The Life Entertainment. Henderson and Scruggs are scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at Newport Music Hall.
Henderson said the members of the group are taking time apart to focus on their futures individually.
“We have different ideas and outlooks on things, so we’re taking time apart to establish our own business and future endeavors,” Henderson told The Lantern. “Everybody’s trying to establish themselves in the music business as business men.”
Steven Howse, known as Layzie Bone and Stanley Howse, known as Flesh-n-Bone, are also performing as a duo, while Bryon Anthony McCane, known as Bizzy Bone, joins the group at random.
While the tour date listings could confuse fans, Henderson said the group is not scheduled to perform together with all five members. Upcoming shows listed as “Bone Thugs-N-Harmony featuring Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone” include only Henderson and Scruggs. Dates titled “Bone Thugs-N-Harmony” include only Steven and Stanley Howse. It is unclear whether McCane will be joining either group. Despite the confusion, Henderson said he wants to focus on the music to remind fans why they loved the group in the first place.
“There’s still a little friction within the group,” Henderson said. “I’m sure people see that on the Facebook and Twitter and all that, but I’m pretty much cool with everybody. I’m not trippin’ on anything negative. We’ve dealt with so much drama in the past and our careers. I’m tired of that.”
The past drama Henderson is referring to is extensive. In 2000, Stanley Howse was sentenced to 12 years in prison for probation violations and assault with a deadly weapon charges, but only served about eight years. McCane has been publicly kicked out of the group several times for getting violent with fans and struggling with substance abuse. Issues with money and record labels have caused much of the tension that remains between members.
As a group, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has released nine studio albums, and group members have released many more as solo artists. Bone Thugs is known for its original style of speed rap and vocal harmonies, found on hit tracks such as “Tha Crossroads” and “Thuggish Ruggish Bone.”
Henderson said the band’s lyrics, which focus largely on murder and smoking marijuana, are true to the members’ lives.
“Everything I say in a rap, I’ve either done it, I’ve saw somebody do it or my friend’s seen it,” Henderson said. “I talk about what I’ve done, what I see and what I hear.”
After winning talent competitions and becoming well-known in Cleveland, the group took a one-way bus to Los Angeles. After rapping over the phone for popular artist Eazy-E (Eric Wright), who passed away in 1995, the group traveled back to Cleveland to audition for him backstage at his concert and Wright signed Bone Thugs to his label, Ruthless Records.
Henderson said social media outlets such as YouTube have softened artists by making it easier to get discovered.
“It’s a good thing, but it’s also bad,” Henderson said. “Those artists who get discovered like that, they don’t experience the struggle of trying to make it.”
Henderson said Columbus fans can expect “the classics, old solo stuff and new solo stuff.”
“I know with Bone, you can’t compare nothing to all five members, but we hold it down pretty good,” Henderson said.
Johnny Go, 33, of local record store Johnny Go’s House O’ Music, attended a Bone Thugs concert a few years ago. While he said he is not a fan of the group and only attended because he had a free ticket, he said going to one of its shows is something everyone should experience once.
“I would describe it as fabulous chaos,” Go said. “When I saw them, they had at least 60 people with them on stage. They had their whole entourage. By the end of the night, it was a mob. It was insane.”
Kyle Keller, a fourth-year in dental hygiene, said he wants to attend the concert, but can’t because of his schedule. Like many fans, he wants to see the group reunite in the future.
“They have so much history,” Keller said. “It’s great when they are all together, so I don’t like seeing the drama between them. No one does.”
Henderson said he and McCane recently discussed working on a “duet album.” Henderson is working on his final solo project, a two-disc album titled “Chasing the Devil.” After the album is finished, he said he wants to focus on producing new talent.
Because the members are working on separate projects, he said it’s hard to determine what the future holds for them. He compared the group to legendary artists like The Temptations and Run-D.M.C.
“I think Bone Thugs-n-Harmony will be around for a long time,” Henderson said. “Even when we’re dead and gone, our music will still be considered as classic music. That’s Bone’s legacy.”
Whether Bone Thugs will find harmony as a whole remains to be seen.