Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, U-N-I-T-Y

Photography by Travis Shinn

As much as hip-hop fans relish beef, there is much to be said for burying the crew-splitting hatchet. Just ask the legions of Roc-A-Fella Stans who clamor for a Jay-Z and Dame Dash peace treaty or the ones who still haven’t accepted the reality of Cam’ron and Jim Jones’s Diplomats breakup. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony had their run too. They were on top of the world until internal strife and legal drama sent their empire crumbling down.

Stylistically, Bone established themselves as the chief purveyors of a melodic, machine-gun-fast sound that has influenced hip-hop, and pop music, in a big way. The group has sold more than 16 million records and in 1995 actually tied The Beatles for the fastest-rising pop single ever, with their smash hit “Tha Crossroads.” (They won a Grammy the following year for the same song.) But it’s been 10 years since BTNH have appeared as the full five-man crew their devoted fans have come to know and love. Now, the long-awaited Bone comeback will be in the form of their seventh album, Uni5: The World’s Enemy, a chest-pounding cheer for unity. “This [is a] dysfunctional functional family,” says Flesh of the group’s dynamic. “We was wild…Now we’re back.”

The BTNH bond dates back to the early 1990s. Layzie (Steven Howse), cousin Wish (Charles Scruggs) and friends Krayzie (Anthony Henderson) and Bizzy (Bryon McCane) linked up as teenagers in the Glenville section of Cleveland, Ohio. Driven by dreams of rap stardom, they formed a group called B.O.N.E. Enterpri$e and released their indie album Faces of Death in 1993. Seeking a larger platform to display their talents, the neophytes hopped on a bus to Los Angeles, hoping to showcase their skills for N.W.A front man Eazy-E. (Flesh a.k.a. Stanley Howse, Lazyie’s brother and crew friend, joined the group and took the ride as well.) They landed an impromptu audition for Eazy which led to a deal with the Compton rapper’s Sony-distributed Ruthless Records.

First, the rookies dropped Creepin’ on Ah Come Up, an eight-track EP that went three times platinum. Then in 1995, Bone released their official major-label debut album, E. 1999 Eternal, which was spearheaded by “Tha Crossroads” and eventually sold over six million copies. BTNH’s follow-up, the 1997 double disc The Art of War, continued to cement the group’s dominance, earning them even more platinum plaques and greater hip-hop respect. In the midst of all of their success, however, things began to unravel from within.

Trouble surfaced when Bizzy Bone started having financial disputes with Ruthless, right around the release of the group’s third disc, 2000’s BTNHResurrection. Refusing to fulfill promotional duties for the album, Bizzy sued parent label Sony, alleging that he wasn’t paid the million-dollar advance owed to him for his second solo album. He dropped the suit when Sony agreed to release him from his solo contract, allowing Biz to cut albums independently while still keeping his obligations to the group intact. Although no one else in Bone publicly lashed out in the manner that Bizzy had, Layzie does admit that the entire team was financially frustrated. “We started off with a 12-point deal,” he says. “Twelve percent of a hundred in a five-man group ain’t shit.” —Bobby Cruz

To read the rest of this in-depth Bone Thugs feature be sure to go cop the March 2010 issue of XXL, which is on stands now.

Click through the remaining pages for exclusive Bone Thugs photos from the magazine…

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  • The Worlds Enemy 4/20/10

    Bone is the greatest.

  • adrian smith

    bone thugs n harmony the greatests rap crew smash it in the 90′s r.i.p eric eazy e wright march 26 1995 -2010

  • jtm

    come on bone we are waiting for that album

  • Justice4All

    “Twelve percent of a hundred in a five-man group ain’t shII.” This is so true man, that’s like getting a 2.4 % cut on a solo deal. A bad deal. That’s like $384,000 on 16 million dollars-if you round off that they sold 16 million records at around $10.00 a piece. Tragic.

  • stuckfresh

    Eazy E been known for fucking people! R.I.P! Im glad the boys is back! There the only ones besides Method Man that made a songs with Pac and Big! I love Bone! I cant wait for the album! They sould do a remix of “Dummyman”! lol

  • HU

    Eazy E teamed up with Jews and was a Republican. It can be said he caused what we see in rap nowadays. Eazy and the Jew (lampooned in the Dre Day video) created gangsta rap and thus began the idolatry of killing and acting retarded. It has been a downward spiral since then leading to 50 Cent which led to Soulja Boy and Wacka Flocka. The question is, what kind of rap will we get when the people coming out claim Soulja, Gucci, and Wacka as their influences?

    • the brown

      Yo! Wocka’s fresh! Get off my boi.


      that was one of the greatest points made in the last ten years of hip hop. hopefully the future gets sick of the downward spiral and vomits or spits some real stuff. I calle it the 50 cent syndrome. he really put hip hop in the icu.

  • HU

    BTW, the new Bone album is coming in March and will be hot 2 def. Download Pay What You Owe, Gangsta’s Glory and See Me Shine! I’ll be buying the album from a brick and mortar store.

  • General

    Good to see Bone all back together for this new CD. Should be a classic with DJ U-Neek doin the production again…

  • DLoc

    I swear ever since Lil Lay Burna shaved the braids he looks like Chance from vh1. Anyways glad 2 c bone droppin another banger. BTNH 4 LIFE

  • matty21

    YEAA bone is back again… n p.s. this group should be rich for life for what they did in hip hop n music as a whole, sumthin aint right there… n bone doesnt get a lot of recognition like they deserve, but they dont really care they do their thing neway, but respect this: they worked n did songs with tupac AND biggie… dat shows the respect dey got around music, thats huge… n regardless, their music is real music n is timeless, its etched in history 4ever, timeless sht 4real… love to hear this, cant wait 4 some new sht from bone

  • Jon Dog

    For once, no one is hatin on here. Just shows how much people love and respect Bone. Keep on keepin on Bone Thugs.


    they should of made the cover…………..SMH

  • Technique

    Bone is THE best rap group of all time!! I got my ticket to see them live on April 28th and I can’t fucking wait!

  • Technique

    Bone is THE best rap group of all time!! I got my ticket to see them live on April 28th and I can’t fucking wait!!

  • Anonymous

    wow aint he smart doin fake math BTNH is like tha best i got all dey albums nd mixtapes

  • CBS

    HU- What does teaming with Jews have to do with anything? And Eazy E was not a republican. He said so in an interview. He had lunch with the president for publicity. Don’t blame Eazy for the garbage that is out today. Blame people like Eminem and Dr. Dre for 50. They are the two most responsible for making him a star. As for Wacka, Soulja, and Gucci, blame these stupid ass kids for that mess. Only people listening to them are 12 and under.


    What a stupid comment, blame Dre Eminem and 50? Are you serious? Why dont you blame your selves and everyone that actually buys it and keeps it selling because they find it entertaining.If it sells it will stay around. They including Ruthless records are just providing a form of entertainment no different than the violent movies you enjoy watching. Yes Ruthless records fucked some artists pretty bad but dont blame them for shit, blame the consumer if you want to be mad at someone.Use your brains before you speak your comments are seriously retarded and show hypocrisy. Good for Bone I myself like gangsta music and cant wait for this cd to drop.I will keep buying it as long as it sounds good.


    What is really crazy is Eazy when he was alive almost fucked over Ice Cube (he was smart and didnt sign a contract), fucked over NWA, and Bone. Now that he is dead and gone people just erased it from their minds and still support him. Dont get me wrong, no disrespect to Eazy and his legacy because I love the mans music but not his business practices. That just shows you the power of friendship and how the love for a friend can erase those petty things like money and mistakes.

  • CBS

    Not stupid. It’s the truth. Dre and Em put 50 out. I don’t own 50 or Eminems shit. But some dumb ass up above was blaming Eazy for people like 50, and soulja boy. Read the comments above to see what I am responding to before posting your stupid shit naptownnuisance.

  • Anonymous


    whoever wrote this story suxs some research 1st.GET THE STORY ALL THE WAY STRAIGHT!
    I know its hard bc all u mofo’s dont give bone no credit for shiT!!

  • SouljaBoy

    bone thugs aint even that good anymore ya’ll Souljaboy better

  • The real chris

    Soulga boy u should kill yoself for that, please tell me that was a joke,soulga boy will never be better than bone no matter he try,even when bone is old and grey the still will be way better and soulga boy will still be way wack and more than likely floped.

  • james

    Instead of blaming the likes of Eminem, Dr. Dre and fifty. Blame these record producers who release albums, songs, by 12 year old rappers. Like fucking master p and lil romeo, soulja Boy, cash money records etc. blame people like that. Blame the record producers. Dre, and Em are not responsible for that.
    That’s ridiculous to say they are. They release GOOD albums, Dre and em do but 50 don’t, he pretty much sucks.

    Anywho, it’s the record producers, and the record companies fault. Don’t blame rappers like Em, and 50. They had nothing to do with it.

    I love Bone thugs. Album should be fire.

    P.s. I bet know ones that Bone thugs are COOL with Em, and dre.

  • james

    I just read that on their upcoming album, they’re working with T-Pain and Chamillionaire.

    Well I was hoping it would be fire, but I.. Guess not. :(

  • Anonymous


  • Mambo Chinika

    Bone_ Bone_ Bone SAY THAT AGAIN

  • bone fan

    was bizzy on febuary cover of XXL? if not who was?

  • Otto Horne

    If only more people would read this..

  • OnlyFaDaReal

    Youtube Lil Neek/Spend the Night. If u a real nigga u gon feel dis song and flow!!!!