Reunited: Flesh-n-Bone talks Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, prison, and working with Eazy-E, 2Pac, and The Notorious B.I.G.
On the final night of SXSW, a savage cold front swept into Austin causing the mercury to plummet to near freezing levels. Unprepared for the sudden shift, most attendees flocked to indoor venues, save for a few thousand stalwarts who swarmed the Fader Fort, an outdoor compound on the east side of town, where Bone Thugs-N-Harmony delivered a scorching denouement to the weekend.
Everyone from hip-hop heads with receding hairlines down since "Thuggish Ruggish Bone," to flannel-clad Real Estate fans, to the asymmetrical haircut set, mouthed almost every word of the veteran Cleveland quintet's raps.
Of course, anyone who has ever heard the intensely melodic, rapid-fire cadences of Bone Thugs understands the difficulty of memorizing their tongue-twisting lyrics. So credit the crowd's fervor to the groups enduring influence, 16 years after their Ruthless Records debut EP, "Creepin' On Ah Come Up," introduced them to the world as Eazy-E's most talented post-N.W.A proteges. Despite the untimely passing of their mentor shortly thereafter, the group went onto become one of the '90s' most successful, going platinum many times over, nabbing a Grammy and collaborating with 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., and Mariah Carey.
Turmoil struck in the wake of their platinum, "BTNHResurrection," when Flesh-n-Bone, the group's eldest member and steadying force, was sentenced to a dozen years in prison for assault with an AK-47 and being an ex-convict with a gun. Tensions quickly mounted between Bizzy Bone and the remaining members, and he departed to pursue a solo career. For the next six years, the group persisted as a trio, enjoying significant commercial success with 2007's gold-certified "Strength and Loyalty," which found them working with some of pop music biggest names, including The Game, will.i.am and Akon.