In November of 1993, while mainstream hip-hop was in its infancy and the genre was still defining itself, a young group from Cleveland, Ohio dreamed of hitting the big time. Like countless aspiring rappers, these ambitious Clevelanders idolized the hard-edged beats of Eazy-E and N.W.A. But because they were separated by almost 2,400 miles of country, the suburbs of Compton (arguably the cultural epicenter of gangsta rap) seemed like the other side of the world, a promised land of booze, women and weed, where the best and the brightest gathered to create the musical climate from scratch.
Would these hopeful Midwesterners sit tight and wait to be discovered? Or, would they venture into the great unknown, diving headfirst into fame, fortune and—unbeknownst to them—a landslide of troubles, as well?
They would, as hip-hop history attests, do what any self-respecting dreamers would have done: buy one-way Greyhound tickets and head west in search of their hero, Eazy-E.
We’re talking, of course, about Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and their now-legendary pilgrimage would lead them to find, and be signed by, the infamous rap mogul Eazy-E, embarking upon a dramatic rise to fame that would include five Grammy awards, 30 million albums sold worldwide, and enough adversity to constitute one hell of a VH-1 “Behind The Music” special.
With a career that includes hits like “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” “Foe Tha Love of $,” “East 1999,” and the crossover smash “Tha Crossroads,” Bone has now reached a level where they can look back at their body of work and ask the rhetorical question, “What if we had never met Eazy-E?”
One hypothetical answer is explored in “I Tried,” a soon-to-be-released independent film which offers an alternate conclusion to the 14-year saga of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (a single of the same name comes from their new album). Without spoiling the ending, it’s safe to say that this piece of celluloid fiction ends on a down note that is dramatically different than the group’s real life saga of survival.
The actual conclusion to the story (at least as of April, 2007) is, for the most part, quite positive. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, which has had more than its share of trials and tribulations (including the expulsion of one of its members, Bizzy Bone, and the incarceration of another, Flesh-N-Bone), is now a trio on an upward career trajectory.
They have paradoxically managed to adhere to their musical roots while pursuing a staggering array of commercial ventures. And, thus, it is fitting that DUB met up with the rappers at Luxury Ride Inc.—Studio City, California’s fully stocked toy shop of exotic car goodies—in order to delve into Bone’s past, while discussing their imminent future.
“We’re humble to our fans,” explains Wish Bone, “and we understand what we’ve gotta put into this—all the turmoil and all the s**t we’ve been through—we gotta humble ourselves and let motherf*****s know we ain’t arrogant a******s who are just worried about the dollar and don’t give a f**k.” Wish also qualifies his statement by saying, without mincing words that, “It’s about time for Bone Thugs to get our just due.”