The year was 1995 and the up-and-coming Cleveland hip-hop group, Bone Thugs and Harmony had their second album E.1999 Eternal slated for release. After being taken under the wing of N.W.A rapper and Ruthless Records founder, Eazy-E, the group were no strangers to the business and had enjoyed the breakout success of their debut EP, Creepin on ah Come Up, but with this release they wanted to prove they were more than just a one hit wonder manufactured by their producer. Unfortunately, they would get the chance to step out of the shadow of their mentor sooner than expected, four months before the release of E.1999 Eternal, Eazy-E passed away. The band dedicated both the album and single, “Tha Crossroads” to their friend and producer.
Although the release of the album was marked by sadness, E.1999 Eternal fast became the group’s best-selling album and one of the most appreciated hip-hop pieces of the decade. It sold over 10 million copies worldwide, topped the Billboard 200 for two consecutive weeks, and was nominated for the first ever Grammy award for Best Rap Album. Not only a commercial success, the album garnered positive reviews from music critics and fans as well, who enjoyed the groups innate ability to combine the popular “thug” style rap delivery with the perfectly combined melodies of trained R&B singers.
The album also marked the beginning of their rise to where they are today, perhaps the most decorated and storied hip-hop group alive and touring. Simply put, they sold more than 15 million records, recorded with The Notorious B.I.G, 2Pac, N.W.A, Phil Collins, and they won a Grammy Award. Most importantly, they redirected hip-hop’s sonic direction. It was exciting to sit down and talk with one of the group’s more prominent members, Flesh-N-Bone.
For the Catalyst show, you will be playing E. 1999 Eternal in its entirety. Did anything specific lead you guys to make this decision?
FLESH: Well this year is the 20th anniversary of the record. We wanted to do a tour to recognize and pay tribute to an amazing record. Its really special for us to perform this album because the material means so much to us, and the fans respond so well to it. When we originally released it we didn’t think it would do that well and it sold around 5 or 6 million copies in the United States. To still be touring and playing this album 20 years later is a meaningful and humbling experience.
Over the past 20 years you have gotten to work with some of the biggest names in the music world: Biggie, Phil Collins, Eazy E, Tupac. Is there anyone you have worked with recently that has stood out as an up-and-comer? Any cool collaborations coming up?
FLESH: One of the coolest new artists we got to work with recently was Afrojack. We were also excited to be working on features with Machine Gun Kelly. We saw in the news recently that Wiz Khalifa has a Bone Thugs tattoo, which we thought was awesome so we are hoping to hook up with Khalifa. As far as someone who we haven’t worked with yet but want to, Jay-Z seems like a perfect candidate to get something on the plate with; he’s a legend and it would be amazing for us to join forces.
Do you have a new album or any new material coming out?
FLESH: Right now we’re focusing on releasing singles, and even though we are preparing a record in album form, for me it has to be the right situation with the right partners. In the past, some of our records didn’t get the distribution and promotion I felt they deserved. With our next release most likely being Bone Thugs’ last album, we want everything to be perfect.
Every time you embarked on a tour recently, you have made it a point to stop in Santa Cruz. What keeps bringing you back?
FLESH: Well truth be told business is business, and the fan turnout every time in Santa Cruz is amazing, the energy is great and people love us and naturally we gravitate back to the place where we get the most love.
Bone Thugs and Harmony perform E.1999 Eternal in its entirety LIVE at the Catalyst Club on Friday, March 27. Tickets available here.
Follow Flesh-n-Bone at http://fleshnboneglobal.com/ or @fleshnbonebtnh on Instagram.