March 4, 2016 Bone Thugs-n-Harmony Legendary At The Emporium Patchogue, NY 2-25-16
Coming from the city of Cleveland, Ohio, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are one of Hip Hop’s most unique acts. Formed back in 1991 originally as The Band-Aid Boys, they soon became B.O.N.E. Enterpri$e to release the debut album Faces of Death in 1993, only to morph into what everyone now knows as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Determined to grab the attention of the legendary N.W.A. member Eazy-E, they quickly impressed him and thus signed on with his label, Reckless Records, that same year. Now under the wing of Eazy-E, they released their commercially successful Creepin on ah Come Up, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony were on their way to the top. Combining smooth R&B vocals with even smoother rapping, there was something special about the group, separating them from anything anyone else was doing on the scene at the time. Sadly, just as everything seemed to be headed in the right direction, their friend and producer, Eazy-E, tragically died from Aids in March of 1995. Moving forward with heavy hearts, they put out their sophomore album, E. 1999 Eternal, in July of 1995, and soon they would find their potential was just about to explode to new heights. A matter of fact, that album hit number 1 in the USA and went four times platinum, making it one of the best albums of the decade.
Since then, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony continue to march to their own drummer, releasing a total of nine albums consistently through the ’90s, 2000s, and beyond. Looking toward the future with what is said to be their final album, E. 1999 Legends, they also celebrate their past with a tour in honor of the twentieth anniversary of E. 1999 Eternal. The tour, which began back in 2015, continues into 2016 with dates throughout the country, and on Thursday, February 25th, they made the trip out to Patchogue, New York to grace the stage of The Emporium. Just a day following their show in New York City, many came out to Long Island for the historic show that would include a plethora of local talents in T&J, Status, Rymiff & Jay Swiggy, Midnight Grahmmer, and Alphamale as direct support.
Following the showcase of the New York based artists prior, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony were set to take the stage later in the night as a packed crowd filled the floor. A rare visit to the Long Island area, fans of all ages came out to witness the historic show featuring the Bone Thugs-n-Harmony distinctive voices Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone, Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone, and Flesh-n-Bone.
With its simple beat, “East 1999” kicked off the show. Layzie Bone took the lead on the first verse, recalling growing up in the rough and tumble streets of Cleveland, harkening back to 1989 and coming of age too hard and fast. Next, Krayzie Bone took the second verse espousing the trials and tribulations of the drug trade. Bizzy Bone’s turn continued with the harsh reality of the streets, rapping about battling with the police in the street. Flesh-n-Bone kept it going before Wish Bone’s final verse completed all the talk of violence by painting a portrait of violent death, culminating all of the not so veiled threats from the previous four verses.
Keeping the excitement level high, “Body Rott” was up next, and with its oddly gentle melody and beat, it was the perfect juxtaposition for the lyrics which told the tale of running drugs, prison breaks, capital murder, drug use, and gun violence. Finding that perfect balance between thug life and crisp, harmonic delivery is no small feat. Thereafter came “Mo’ Murda,” a track that gained notoriety after being used as evidence in the murder trial of Michael Tisius. With its sludgy beat and eerie effects, the deft harmonies were the only thing keeping the song from becoming an outright dirge. The counterbalance of impending dread and Motown like harmonies got the crowd nodding in tune.
Electrifying the crowd to new heights, they would go on to pay tribute to their mentor with a cover Eazy-E’s 1987 classic “Boyz-n-the-Hood.” A perfect, note by note rendition was delivered by the group as they memorialized the man who gave them a chance all those years ago. Segueing into “Foe Tha Love of $,” a cut Eazy-E appeared on the studio version, a sharp bass and snare beat, coupled with female backing vocals and soaring key samples got the crowd swaying back and forth. Meanwhile, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony took their break-neck flow to obscene levels.
Continuing to pay tribute to legends, they offered up the rendition of The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy.” Breaking into the world of popular Hip Hop around the same time, it was a touching homage to one of their contemporaries who died at the tender age of twenty-four. While their styles were certainly quite disparate, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony easily delivered the silky smooth flow in the style of Biggie Smalls. It was a great testament to the group’s versatility, and the crowd roared in approval. A call and response tribute to Biggie Smalls, wherein they shouted “B. I.” and the crowd screamed back “G,” led into “Notorious Thugs.” A track that was a collaboration between Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Notorious B.I.G. on Biggie’s posthumously 1997 Life After Death album, it was fantastic to hear live. On the track, Biggie adopts Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s mile a minute flow and crammed as many syllables into a short span style like it is second nature. On this night, the group did justice to their fallen compatriot with a rousing rendition of the track.
Transitioning to another Hip Hop icon, they would get the crowd moving for Tupac’s “California Love.” Performing the first two minutes or so, the funky piano riff and crisp drums had the crowd singing along as they shouted out the chorus. The rousing cover flowed seamlessly into the group’s own song, “Thug Love,” one which was a joint venture between Tupac and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony from their 1997 multi-platinum release, The Art of War. Using the cocking of a gun along with gun blasts as part of the beat, along with dark keys and a sharp snare, “Thug Love” came across as a menacing cut.
Keeping the fans on their toes, the group would save their biggest hits, “1st of Tha Month” and “Tha Crossroads,” for their finale. First, “1st of Tha Month” epitomized what made the group such a huge success with its catchy, pop-laden beat with bouncy pianos that laid the foundation for the members to spit lyrics at 1,000 miles per hour. In addition, their listeners can relate to much of the lyrical content. Then, show closer “Tha Crossroads” absolutely brought the house down. With a hook that would not seem out of place on the Pop, Soul, or R&B charts, the song is a bona fide monster in terms of catchiness. The crowd was drowning out the group not only on the chorus, but on the verses as well. While it has a melancholy theme, harping on lost loved ones, and the finality of death, the infectious groove and brilliant delivery had the crowd completely engrossed and begging for more.
Anyone who is able to stay in the Rap game for over twenty years is not relying on a single brilliant album or a smash single. With that said, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony have been able to stay relevant because they brought a completely new style to a genre that too often suffers from up-and-coming artists trying to copy previously successful acts, or relying on cookie-cutter arrangements and fear of ingenuity. What makes Bone Thugs-n-Harmony a force to be reckoned with from the outset has allowed them to play the game, at a superior level, for over two decades, and that is creativity and innovation in spades. For a night of upbeat, genuine, crafty Hip Hop, get out and see these time-tested veterans. Their tour continues through July across North America, so do not miss out on this piece of Hip Hop gold.