Sometimes it really is all in a name: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Since the early ’90s Bone Thugs have blended straight-up thuggery with some sweet Temptations-style harmonies, creating one of the most distinctive rap/soul hybrids of the hip-hop era; all the while maintaining a street edge separating them from other ’90s neo doo-woppers like Boyz II Men.
The group’s best-known hit, ’97’s gospel-tinged tribute to deceased rapper Eazy-E, “Tha Crossroads,” won them a Grammy, and MTV ranked Bone Thugs-N-Harmony number 12 on their list of “25 Best Rap Groups Of All Time,” calling them the most melodic hip-hop group ever (they were also featured on MTV Party to Go Vol. 10 — let’s put that in perspective: Los Del Mar’s “Macarena” and 2Pac’s “California Love” also made the cut that year).
You may also know their collaborations with 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G — but don’t call Bone Thugs a ’90s-dead-rapper-bad-luck-charm or washed-up relic of the Clinton years. The group has stayed ridiculously prolific well into the 21st Century; they’ve released six albums since “Tha Crossroads” brought them widespread fame, fostering a devoted fan-base and spinning off a host of well-known rappers surnamed Bone, notably Krayzie and Wish.
Krayzie and Wish Bone left the group for a time to establish solo careers, but now the reunited Bone Thugs are harmonizing again, prepping a new album for 2013, The Art of War: World War III. “I really look forward to getting back out there and reaching our fans and giving them what they been wanting for a very long time, and that’s a tour with all five members,” Krayzie Bone says.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony celebrate their 20th anniversary (and Valentine’s Day) 9:30 pm Thursday, Feb. 14, at WOW Hall; $28 adv.; $32 door.