When it comes to the rap game, the group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are genuine old school OGs who have collaborated with the industry’s most legendary superstars, like Eazy-E, 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G.
Originally formed in 1991 in Cleveland, Ohio, with rappers Layzie Bone, Flesh-n-Bone, Bizzy Bone, Krayzie Bone, and Wish Bone, it was N.W.A’s Eazy-E who signed the group to Ruthless Records in 1993 and launched their careers.
Wish and Krayzie were just 18 and 20 years old, respectively, when Bone Thugs debuted their EP Creepin on ah Come Up, which included the single Thuggish Ruggish Bone that reached second on the 1994 rap charts.
Now, nearly two decades later, Wish and Krayzie have split from the group to work on a solo album with their label The Life Entertainment. The split in April of last year was big news in the hip-hop world, leading to the question of whether Bone Thugs was finished.
“What everybody thinks is we broke up, we hate each other, but that’s just not the case,” says Wish Bone, explaining that members have “grown up” since 1991 and have their own lives.
But, he adds, there’s a deal on the table for Krayzie and Wish to come back and do a 10th Bone album.
Thinking back, Wish says he always knew Bone Thugs had a special sound and was just waiting for the “right ears” to come along and hear it. As it turns out, those ears belonged to Eazy-E, who died in 1995 while on top of the rap world.
He says Eazy will always be an influence for Bone Thugs because he opened the door to mainstream hip-hop.
“Not just for us, but the rap game period, because without Eazy-E you wouldn’t have ‘gangsta rap’ or people really speaking their feelings or dressing how they want to dress and not being told to look a certain way.”
Like Eazy-E, a lot of hip-hop groups ended up getting into regional affiliations and beefs with other rappers.
But Wish says he never got into the east coast versus west side feuds. He just wanted to listen to good rap, whether it was Compton’s N.W.A, Texas’ Ghetto Boys, New York’s Just-Ice or the giants of rap music, Run-D.M.C.
These days, mainstream rap music is very different from the kind of hard rhyming about the streets and violence that permeates the music of Bone Thugs and other old school rappers. Wish says that coming from the streets, he can better relate to that kind of message.
But on the other hand, he adds, it’s been a long time since he was hustling.
“Nowadays it’s more about who’s got the biggest car or the prettiest girlfriends. It’s more of a competition, a floss thing.”
While many rappers who make it big end up moving away from their hometown, Wish has stayed in Cleveland, where he has friends and the opportunity to scout local talent and help them get noticed the way Eazy did for him.
“It’s a beautiful thing that Cleveland can finally get recognized as a place with talent,” he says, adding he’s raising his three children there.
Although Bone Thugs has been around since 1991, most of their members are still under 40 and Wish is just 36.
“We came into the game when we were young, and there’s people coming in now that are older than us, so if they can do it, we can still do it.”
Bone Thugs’ Wish and Krayzie are coming to Mission’s Clarke Theatre on Monday, Jan. 23, also featuring rappers DTG, Suitable Ties, Dillema, Terrel Safadi, and J Bru. Tickets are $30 and are available by calling 604-768-9877 or visiting Mac & Mango in the Sevenoaks Mall in Abbotsford. Doors open at 8 p.m.