Minnesota gets boned

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony make their way to First Ave.

Matching suit harmony for Bone Thugs.

Photo courtesy Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Matching suit harmony for Bone Thugs.

by Conrad Schoenleber

WHO: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

WHERE: First Ave. 701 First Ave N

WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 29th

COST: $24


In 1991, things were looking good for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. They had just met Eazy-E and signed their first record deal with his label, Ruthless Records, after auditioning backstage at a Cleveland show. For the next 10 years things would only go up for the group.

In 2000, Flesh-N-Bone, a Bone Thugs emcee was jailed for possession of a weapon and assault. Pleading guilty, he was sentenced to 11 years. Things fell apart for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, with the members each releasing unsuccessful solo albums.

Now, 8 1/2 years later, Flesh-N-Bone is out and Bone Thugs is reuniting with four out of the five original members releasing new songs. Their supposed comeback tour is coming to First Ave. this Wednesday.

“You can’t deny that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has been through so many trials and tribulations,” Flesh-N-Bone said. “This is a comeback; we back, baby!”

Their 2006 release “Strength and Loyalty” featured heavyweights of the current pop-rap scene like Swizz Beatz, Akon, Will.i.am, Twista and Mariah Carey. Their single “I Tried” reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. The “life is hard” nature of the song returned them to the radio, but the success of the single was all the band would see.

Many bands have had to reinvent themselves in light of the digital revolution — and this is something that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony knows all too well.

“You got the Napsters, the Limewires, the — what are they called — torrents?” Flesh-N-Bone said.

But Flesh is not to be discouraged: He obviously has faith in the group’s songwriting chops.

“Bone Thugs-N-Harmony can make pop music and thug stuff without trying; we can do that,” he said.

However, reinvention is difficult for anyone, let alone a group with a member who has been in jail for the better part of a decade.

Their latest stage show will incorporate a live band and four out of the five original members, with only Bizzy Bone absent.

“Bizzy is doing his own thing. Maybe he’ll be back. We all still have love for him,” Flesh said.

To the artists, a live band is a more powerful act than just a DJ and four microphones.

“The DJ on stage works, but a live band really just makes a better sound and show,” Flesh said.

Their show at First Ave. will follow this format.

Frustration with current hip-hop acts has spurred Bone Thugs’ creative drive. With too many acts that Flesh called “Tinkertoy music,” Bone Thugs hope to reclaim their spot among the hip-hop elites. It will be difficult, but anyone who has heard their collaboration with Tupac, “Thug Love,” will understand how hard these guys can get.