When an individual or group in hip hop makes the statement they are the greatest ever they must realize that it does not constitute sales and popularity over a short period of time. Longevity, talent, quality, and substance must be figured into the conversation as well. A group that rightfully belongs to be considered one of the greatest hip hop groups is Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. On the surface they are amongst the best-selling hip hop artists of all-time. However it is the fact that they have been relevant for close to 25 years and have a discography laced with deep meaningful music that attributes to their greatness as well.
Beginning with 1995’s E. 1999 Eternal Bone Thugs began to show a deep introspective side with their signature song “Tha Crossroads”. A song that served as a tribute the group’s fallen mentor Eazy-E and other loved ones lost. The following year the group contributed “Days of our Livez” to the Set It Off soundtrack. It captured the spirit of the movie, the struggle to survive. Later that year Flesh-N-Bone released “World So Cruel” voicing the coldness of the world from the album T.H.U.G.S. (Trues Humbly United Gatherin’ Souls).
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Tha Crossroads
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Days of Our Livez
Flesh-N-Bone – World So Cruel feat. Rev Run
In 1997 the group released “If I Could Teach the World” from their double album Art of War. The song was a message to live in harmony, avoiding the perils of war. In 2001 Bone Thugs appeared on the soundtrack to Down to Earth with the track “Thug Music Play On”. The members described despite going through a lot in life they are able to keep continuing on. Shortly thereafter Bizzy Bone released his solo album The Gift which included “Father”. The song was deep and introspective commentating on the state of the world.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – If I Could Teach the World
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Thug Music Play On
Bizzy Bone – Father
That same year Krayzie Bone put out “Hard Time Hustlin’” featuring Sade form the album Thug on da Line. A gut wrenching tale of someone in dire straits turns to hustling to better a family’s situation only to be thrown in jail at the end. Several years later Bone Thugs put out “I Tried” featuring Akon from the 2007 album Strength & Loyalty. Each member including Akon reflected on the struggles faced on the streets. Last song to mention is “Meet Me in the Sky” from 2010’s Uni5: The World’s Enemy. The song serves as an inspirational track about rising above the negativity and the afterlife.
Krayzie Bone – Hard Time Hustlin’ feat. Sade
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – I Tried feat. Akon
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Meet Me in the Sky
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has nothing left to prove. For those who measure greatness superficially, they have sold 30 million records, a long list of hits, and accumulated numerous accolades. Their style and entertainment value was always there from the get go. For those who dig deeper it is how their catalog continues to resonate with fans after all these years. However it is how they evolved, putting out high quality music with meaningful subject matter that attributes to their greatness.