The Art of War (Bone Thugs-n-Harmony album)

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The Art of War
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 29, 1997
  • DJ U-Neek
  • Tomica Woods-Wright (Executive Producer)
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony chronology
E. 1999 Eternal
The Art of War
Collection Volume One & Two
Singles from The Art of War
  1. "Look Into My Eyes"
    Released: May 2, 1997
  2. "If I Could Teach the World"
    Released: October 7, 1997
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic2.5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment WeeklyB[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[3]
The Source4/5 stars

The Art of War is the third studio album by hip hop group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony which was released on July 29, 1997. The album sold 394,000 units in its first week of release. The album was certified quadruple Platinum by the RIAA in June 1998. It was the first double-album from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. The album included the platinum-single "Look into My Eyes", and the gold-single "If I Could Teach the World". The whole album is produced by DJ U-Neek.

A sequel to the album The Art of War: World War III was released on December 10, 2013.


The album was rumored to be called "DNA Level C" which is Cleveland backwards. "The Art of War" was created largely as a response to rappers deemed "Clones" (copycats) by the group. Such rappers included Do or Die, Crucial Conflict, Twista & The Speedknots & Three 6 Mafia.

In the wake of his father's death and Tomica Wright now heading Ruthless, Bizzy Bone was not happy, and thus did not appear for many shows or promotions. Now calling the shots, many tracks were altered by Tomica Wright, attempting to head the group into a new direction. Such tracks include Thug Luv with Sylk-E. Fyne, If I Could Teach the World, Friends, Ready For War and many others. While the group appeared at Sprite Nite on BET, Keenan Ivory Wayans (with Bizzy), and several other promotions, their tour began to lag without Bizzy.

Music and lyrics[edit]

In "Ready 4 War," Bone Thugs-n-Harmony (along with Mr. Majesty) called out Crucial Conflict directly by name, with Majesty even stating, "I'll watch you ride the rodeo straight to the bottom".

In "U Ain't Bone", Layzie Bone raps a line similar to the chorus from female rap icon MC Lyte's 10% Dis. MC Lyte's chorus raps "Beat biter! Dope style taker! Tell it to your face, you ain't nuttin but a faker!", while Layzie Bone's verse interpolates "They beat biters, dope-style takers. When I see you face-to-face, my nigga, I'm-a treat you like a hater." In 2000, MC Lyte stated that she was "extremely" disrespected by Layzie Bone, Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown's lyrical interpolations of her "10% Dis" lines. Layzie interpolated the chorus on "U Ain't Bone", while Kim and Brown interpolated the beginning verse, "Hot damn, ho, here we go again!" on Mobb Deep's "Quiet Storm" (Remix) and Capone-N-Noreaga's "Bang-Bang", respectively. This resulted in MC Lyte calling out all of the three rappers on the Rah Digga-collaborated, "Where U At Mama?"[4]

They also changed the name of "Friends" for the cassette version to "How Many of Us Have Them". 2Pac wrote his verse for "Thug Luv" in 1 minute and 51 seconds as confirmed by Bizzy Bone.


The first single for this album was Look Into My Eyes, which was also on the Batman & Robin soundtrack. Neither Bizzy nor Flesh-n-Bone was featured in the video. The next single was "If I Could Teach the World". Bizzy did not appear in this video either. "Thug Luv" and "Body Rott" were also released to radio as singles.

Critical reception[edit]

The Art of War received mostly positive reviews from music critics, with some critics calling the album sonically superior to its predecessor, E. 1999 Eternal. While others criticizing the album for its length, including extended disses towards other rappers, leading to repetitive song play. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic said, "While the group is capable of producing a catchy single, they don't have the personality to sustain an album, much less a double-disc set. By the end of the second disc, they have repeated all of their ideas at least five times apiece, and only a few of those ideas resulted in actual songs in the first place."[5] J.D. Considine of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a "B" rating, stating, "Lest the smooth sound of 'Look Into My Eyes' leaves you thinking the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are really just pop-friendly softies, this 28-song double disc, The Art of War, offsets its slow-and-sweet numbers with bloodthirsty workouts like the shotgun-spiked 'Thug Luv'. But after two hours of these singsong melodies, War seems more like a siege than a surgical strike."[6] Rolling Stone gave the album three and a half stars out of a possible five.[3] Krayzie Bone said in a 2015 interview with HipHopDX that The Art of War was Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's best album, even better than E. 1999 Eternal. Comparing to Eternal, whose songs he claimed were planned and written years before they were recorded, where in contrast The Art of War consisted entirely of newer material that he and the other group members had sat in the studio to create. The response to these statements from mainstream media and fans has been evenly divided. Rapper Wiz Khalifa included the album in his list of "25 Favorite Albums" for Complex.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks produced by DJ U-Neek

World War 1
1."Retaliation (Intro)"Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, DJ U-Neek2:21
2."Handle The Vibe"Antoinette Colandreo, BTNH, U-Neek4:40
3."Look into My Eyes"BTNH, U-Neek4:19
4."Body Rott"BTNH, U-Neek5:01
5."It's All Mo' Thug"BTNH, U-Neek5:12
6."Ready 4 War" (featuring Mr. Maje$ty)Majesty, Marilyn McLeod, Pam Sawyer, BTNH, U-Neek4:36
7."Ain't Nothin' Changed (Everyday Thang Part II)"Barry J. Eastmond, BTNH, U-Neek4:43
8."Clog Up Yo Mind"BTNH, U-Neek5:01
9."It's All Real - performed by Krayzie Bone"Krayzie Bone, BTNH, U-Neek5:08
10."Hard Times (Skit)"BTNH, U-Neek2:49
11."Mind of a Souljah - performed by Layzie Bone"Layzie Bone, BTNH, U-Neek4:39
12."If I Could Teach the World"BTNH, U-Neek4:24
13."Family Tree"K. McCord, BTNH, U-Neek5:49
World War 2
1."Mo' Thug (Skit)"BTNH, U-Neek1:40
2."Thug Luv" (featuring 2Pac)2Pac, BTNH, U-Neek5:08
3."Hatin' Nation"BTNH, U-Neek5:12
4."7 Sign - performed by Bizzy Bone" (featuring Mr. Maje$ty)Bizzy Bone, BTNH, U-Neek4:48
5."Wasteland Warriors" (featuring Souljah Boy)Souljah Boy, BTNH, U-Neek4:28
6."Neighborhood Slang (Skit)"BTNH, U-Neek1:29
7."U Ain't Bone"BTNH5:04
8."Get Cha Thug On - performed by Wish Bone (featuring Tre)"Wish Bone, U-Neek4:02
9."All Original"BTNH, U-Neek4:58
10."Blaze It (Skit)"Larry Blackmon, BTNH, U-Neek2:08
11."Let The Law End"BTNH, U-Neek3:36
12."Whom Die They Lie"BTNH, U-Neek4:24
13."How Many of Us Have Them (Friends)"BTNH, U-Neek5:10
14."Evil Paradise"Tim Stahl, BTNH, U-Neek4:48
15."Mo' Thug Family Tree (featuring Mo Thugs Family)"BTNH, U-Neek5:37
Sample credits

World War 1

  • "Handle the Vibe" contains a sample of "Love's Gonna Get'cha (Material Love)" as performed by Boogie Down Productions
  • "It's All Mo' Thug" contains a sample of "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" as performed by Isaac Hayes
  • "Ready 4 War" contains a sample of "Love Hangover" as performed by Diana Ross
  • "Ain't Nothin Changed (Everyday Thang Part 2)" contains a sample of "Have You Ever Loved Somebody" as performed by Freddie Jackson
  • "Hard Times" contains a sample of "Love.... Can Be So Wonderful" as performed by The Temprees
  • "Mind of a Souljah" contains a sample of "Promise Me" as performed by Luther Vandross

World War 2

  • "Hatin' Nation" contains a sample of "Juicy Fruit" as performed by Mtume
  • "Blaze It" contains a sample of "Why Have I Lost You" as performed by Cameo
  • "Evil Paradise" contains a sample of "White Horse" as performed by Laid Back
  • "Thug Luv" contains a sample of "Friday the 13th Original Theme" by Harry Manfredini
  • "U Ain't Bone" contains a sample of "Ring the Alarm" as performed by Tenor Saw
  • "Friends" contains a sample of "Friends" as performed by Whodini


The vinyl release omits the tracks 1, 6 and 12 on WW2.


Chart (1997) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 1
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums 1
Canadian Albums Chart 10


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[7] 4x Platinum 4,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thomas, Stephen (1997-08-05). "The Art of War - Bone Thugs-N-Harmony". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-12-23. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Considine, J.D. (1997-08-08). "The Art of War Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-06-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (2004). The new Rolling Stone album guide - Nathan Brackett, Christian David Hoard - Google Books. ISBN 9780743201698. Retrieved 2012-06-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "MC Lyte - Where U At verse (Lil' Kim, Layzie Bone & Foxy Brown Diss) (2000)". YouTube. Retrieved 27 March 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Art of War - Bone Thugs-N-Harmony | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  6. ^ Considine, J.D (8 August 1997). "The Art of War".
  7. ^ "American album certifications – Bone Thugs 'N Harmony – The Art of War". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]