Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Beginner's Guide to Bone Thugs: Part II

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If you have been here since the start, you may recall in the second week of this blog I did a post about my favorite rap group called A Beginners Guide Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. To this day, it is my most visited post. For the second installment I have enlisted the help of an OG Bone Fan and long-time Musical Peer of mine from the very city of Cleveland. Noah and I were roommates back at Ohio State and we saw some of the dopest concerts together: The Roots, Mos Def,  Talib Kweli, J5, Barrington, Yellowman, all of Bonnaroo 2005 (except that day I got lost) and some white Bob Marley Cover-Band at the student center that time he won that raffle. Anyway we have been talking about rap for years and years so it was only fitting that we put together The Next Episode.

A Beginniner's Guide to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony: Part II
Left to Right: Bizzy, Layzie, Wish & Krayzie
Straight Outta Cleveland

Krayzie, Layzie, Bizzy, Wish, and sometimes Flesh... What makes Bone Thugs so great?  Is it their lightning fast, yet operatic style of rapping? Is it their complex (DJ) Uneek beats, which often contain intricate melodies from the piano, strings, and other orchestral instruments?  Could it be that they are the only ones to collaborate with 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Eazy-E, and Big Pun (not to mention countless others) while they were still alive?  Or maybe it’s because they hail from great city of Cleveland, Ohio.
     All of the above are contributing factors to why BTNH is a hip hop group like no other.  Being a Clevelander myself, I was naturally drawn to Bone since they burst onto the scene. I’ve seen them in concert more times than I can count, my mom occasionally runs into Wish Bone at the grocery store, and their stories of struggle can’t help but inspire everyone within and, more importantly, the overall city of Cleveland. 
     The group was determined to make it big.  In the early 90s BTNH ventured out to Los Angeles in search of Eazy-E for a record contract.  They auditioned over the phone and were somewhat brushed to the side.  A few months later they discovered that Eazy-E would be performing in their hometown and headed back to secure the gig as opening act. After performing, Eazy signed them to Ruthless Records on the spot.
     There is an aura in C-Town known as Cleveland Gray.  This refers to the color of the sky which is present most days of the year.  It also relates to the depression and sheer blandness that is “The Land.”  In fact, Cleveland was just determined to be the “Most Misrable City in America” by Forbes Magazine. Considering the decade long incarceration of Flesh-n-Bone on a gun charge, the mental illness/substance abuse of Bizzy Bone, and the ailing health of Krayzie Bone, BTNH has got a lot on their plate.  There’s another kind of music that rose up out of a life of hardship…it’s called the Blues.
     The desolate urban environment, especially up in the St. Clair section, where Bone Thugs hail from, has harshly deteriorated since Cleveland’s hay day as the "Millionaire's City" during the 1920s. These issues turn a lot of youth to abuse alcohol and drugs.  One cannot listen to an entire Bone Thugs album without hearing them mention, reminisce and glorify their use and former sale of such substances.  Many if not all of their songs relate to this subject in some form.  So I am going to address the elephant in the room… I have chosen to go full force and play Weed Song, the most blatant, yet delicate of the Bone Thug Mary-Jane anthems. Aside from this song showing the group’s appreciation for herbal remedies, it clearly illustrates Bone Thugs’ (-N-) harmony and eclectic use of keys, horns, stringed instruments and choral melodic structures. The video is also outstanding, well-shot, and has become a music video Mecca to those who love the Bone.  Those who follow BTNH closely might be aware of the dangers of such over-indulgence, noting that in December of 2007, Krayzie Bone literally smoked to the point that one of his lungs collapsed.  Intelligently, he has since quit smoking, but unfortunately he has also quit writing songs about it. In a similarly self-destructive fashion, Bizzy's drug use and overall erratic behavior has him constantly in and out of the group.
Considering that the history of Rap is so intertwined with Street Culture and Drugs, one can only take Bone's choice of subject matter in stride, their catalogue of references is similar to that of the The Rolling Stones or Simon & Garfunkel (Nevermind The Dead) but it must be agreed their talent and individuality cannot be surpassed in the Rap Game. They are the only group of undeniable Street-Authenticity that goes into the studio and just sings their hearts out. As a bonus I've included a little proof of the complex sounds and overall versatility that make up a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony track. See you back here for the next installment...

Song #88: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - Weed Song

Bonus Song: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - Resurrection (Paper, Paper)

1 comment:

  1. Whats wrong with Krayzie? I realised hes been looking so thin lately.. Whats wrong with his health?