State of the Arts: Bone Thugs Past, Present and Future

Apr 13, 2018

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is perhaps the best known rap group to ever come out of Cleveland. Now, some of its members are channeling their hometown in a new documentary that screened at the Cleveland International Film Festival.

"Sons of St. Clair" tells the story of how Bone Thugs-N-Harmony went from the front porches of Glenville to working with the titans of 90s hip hop from Eazy-E to the Notorious B.I.G.

The documentary follows Krayzie Bone and Bizzy Bone into the studio during the making of their duet album: "New Waves."

Cleveland Born
Behind the scenes at the Film Festival, Krayzie Bone said it was important to screen the film in the town where it all started.

Krayzie Bone said Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and the City of Cleveland are intertwined.
Credit TIM NEWFANG / SILVER SAIL ENTERTAINMENT

"It’s definitely not just a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony story. It’s more of a Cleveland story. We are Cleveland. You know Cleveland made us everything we are. That’s what formed us."

Director and Producer Tim Newfang said Bone Thugs' story could span several documentaries. 

"Cleveland is a character in this film. And it’s obviously so important to these guys and who they are as men and who they are as artists. And really we knew that, with Cleveland so important to Bone, we wanted to do that right," Newfang said. 

"We really did focus on the new music which is 'New Waves,' Krayzie and Bizzy’s new duet record, and really focusing on how they’ve evolved with their sound and as artists."

The Duet
Krayzie Bone said the fans have wanted this collaboration for years. 

"Me and Bizzy, we did a duet song together on our first EP. And ever since then they’ve been saying 'You need to do a duet project together.' So here we are right now."

Bizzy Bone in the studio recording the album New Waves.
Credit TIM NEWFANG / SILVER SAIL ENTERTAINMENT

Newfang said it's rare that filmmakers get studio access when artists are working on an album. 

"You know for the Bone fans that’s going to be something really cool for them is to be able to see these guys, these artists at their finest in the studio creating and doing what they love," Newfang said. "These guys still pack the house."

Local Love
"Sons of St. Clair" sold out all three of its screenings at the Film Festival, leaving many fans like Ebony Hood, ecstatic.

"Because this was Cleveland’s Black Panther. This is Wakanda for Clevelanders. Bone Thugs, all of their work, and to have Cleveland highlighted, it was awesome," Hood said. 

Cleveland resident Donald Lynch said the times have changed, but Bone Thugs' music is still the same. 

"That movie represented totally what we represent here in Cleveland. It talks about (Bone Thugs-N-Harmony) traveling from here to L.A. Leaving here destitute looking for something. But they look for it in their music," he said.

Next Step
But what's next for hip hop in Cleveland?

Krayzie Bone said he thinks the future is bright for Cleveland rap. 

Credit TIM NEWFANG / SILVER SAIL ENTERTAINMENT

"Man, that’s what I’m here for, to make sure that it has a good future. This documentary is all a part of a movement that I’m doing for Cleveland as well. We’re coming back here to set up our headquarters B.T.H. records this summer."

As for when a greater audience might get to see "Sons of St. Clair," Director Tim Newfang said it should be coming to the big or small screen soon.