Right around the apex of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s career, Flesh-N-Bone was hauled off to prison to begin a nearly nine-year sentence on assault charges.
The year was 2000 and Bone Thugs had just dropped three consecutive platinum (or multi-platinum) albums — 1995’s E. 1999 Eternal, 1997’s The Art of War and 2000’s BTNH Resurrection. The first two debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, while the third hit the chart at No. 2. Needless to say, Krayzie, Layzie, Bizzy, Wish and Flesh were on top of the world.
But it all came to a screeching halt for Flesh the second those prison doors shut behind him. Suddenly, he was alone in a cell with only the echoes of adoring fans cheering for the beloved Hip Hop group ringing in his ears.
As Flesh wrestled with his fate, he had ample amounts of time to look back on his path and figure out what got him to Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California, over 2,000 miles away from his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
In a recent interview with HipHopDX, Flesh was discussing his forthcoming memoir when he touched on his struggles with addiction, which ultimately led to trouble with the law.
“We’re about halfway through the book and I’m going in deep detail about all of the stuff that a lot of people never knew,” he said. “I will give you a couple of seeds. Basically, when it comes to the addiction side of things, in the inception of our careers, everything was kicked off on the wrong track. And what I mean by that is that, even before we was going to make the decision to go out to California, I was figuring out for myself California was pretty much the place to be.
“Bone Thugs-n-Harmony wanted to make it, but I had people coming around, bringing sherm or PCP or whatever the case may be,” he remembered. “I tried it when I was in California by myself. When I went back home to get the rest of the Bone guys, it was dudes in the hood that knew we were on our way out to go try to do something big, so they were like, ‘Yo, yo, smoke this stuff. It’ll help you. It’s going to take your creativity to the next level.'”
He added, “We had guys knowing we were trying to make it somewhere in our lives, and these type of people kept coming around, feeding us this type of poison. And I feel that it took me off my square.”
[Phencyclidine or phenylcyclohexyl piperidine, also known as angel dust, is a drug used for its mind-altering effects. PCP may cause hallucinations, distorted perceptions of sounds and violent behavior.]
Little did Flesh realize he’d just unleashed a monster and his journey with addiction had just begun. Even when they finally signed with Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records and success seemed inevitable, Flesh couldn’t escape the drugs.
“When we finally got with Eazy-E, he had his homeboys coming the studio while we’re trying to work,” he continued. “He had his homeboys bringing the same shit, the same type of poison. They’d say, ‘Yo, smoke this. Smoke this.’ And that’s what really knocked me off my square. While I was in there, really trying to focus on writing, he had his homies coming to the studio, feeding us that poison.”
Flesh was barely out of his teens when Bone Thugs began their ascent to rap superstardom and needed guidance to keep himself out of trouble — but he didn’t get that. Instead, he was surrounded by people who would do anything for him, even to his detriment.
“I feel that a lot of folks kind of zero in on youngsters,” he says. “And a lot of youngsters that are out there in the industry, this is how they get caught up. They get these wannabe-ass n-ggas, these wannabe-ass superstars, you know what I’m saying? The people that’s around us always are these yes-men ass n-ggas that come around with these poisons. You won’t find not one artist today that don’t get caught up, because he’s surrounded by all of these yes-men ass people that feed them this poison.”
View this post on Instagram
If Flesh sounds slightly angry, he is. He had to endure a lot of pain and suffering to get to a place where he can relax, even just a little. During a 2010 Bone Thugs reunion tour, he was picked up on a 10-year-old warrant at Cleveland’s House of Blues and thrown back in jail for several days before the charges were dropped. But he’s been staying out of trouble ever since. In fact, he’s quit drinking and smoking weed, which was huge for the “Budsmokers Only” legend.
Throughout all of his trials and tribulations, Flesh maintains a positive attitude and wants to be remembered for what he contributed to Hip Hop culture.
“I want to be remembered as one of the most influential Hip Hop artists that undoubtedly brought a innovative, fresh sound to Hip Hop, which we did do,” he says confidently. “We are remembered and immortalized right now because of our style of rap — that sing song-y, very high-melody, fast-tongue harmonizing. So that’s etched in stone as we speak. All you gotta do is turn on the radio and you can hear Bone Thugs-n-Harmony infused in every rapper in the world today, trying to use elements of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony for their own pattern or success, you see?
“I would like to be remembered as such, one of the most influential Hip Hop artists that changed the nature and style of Hip Hop, and brought a fresh face, sound and look to Hip Hop, forever to come. We was the guys that came in and brought that wild-style look, that wild edge. We was smoking weed and all of that stuff. Smoking weed was taboo. Wasn’t nobody doing it — well, besides maybe B-Real [laughs].”
Flesh recently dropped a video for his new single “Dedication,” a direct reflection of how he’s dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and loved ones dying around him. Much in the same vein as Bone Thug-n-Harmony’s multi-platinum hit “Tha Crossroads,” the emotion comes out with every word Flesh raps. As for his upcoming memoir, he expects it to drop by 2022.
Check back for Part III of the HipHopDX interview with Flesh soon.