Bone Thugs-n-Harmony significantly redefined hip-hop, blazing (figuratively and literally) the way for Midwest rappers to have success. Without Bone Thugs, we might never have seen the increase in rappers from Missouri, Illinois, and elsewhere up and down the Midwest.
Flesh-n-Bone had an unfortunate run in with California law enforcement on April 2, 2009 in Santa Clarita. As part of his parole, his house is subject to random searches. His home was searched and marijuana was found along with a firearm. He was held on $135,000 bail and later plead not guilty in Superior Court on April 6, 2009.
For a more detailed story, check out the the Santa Clarita Signal.
This arrest came less than a year after Flesh was released from prison (in July 2008) after serving a seven and a half year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon (AK-47) and a probation violation.
Guns and hip hop seem all too common. Who can forget Diddy and Shyne? What of DMX or 50 Cent? Gun violence and illegal gun possession is a serious problem, not only in the hip hop community but across the country. Bone Thugs released five songs that specifically address gun violence ("Shots To Tha Double Glock," "2 Glocks," "9mm," "Pump Pump," and "Shoot 'Em Up"). Unfortunately these songs reinforce stereotypes about the hip hop community. But more reinforcing, is the run ins with the law that hip hop artists face. At what point do hip hop artists harm their community? I do not suggest that hip hop artists do not often come from dangerous neighborhoods or are often threatened with violence and in need of protection, but at some point the need for personal protection becomes almost as militant and destructive as the violence such protection hopes to prevent.
Oddly, Flesh's wife is a Chicago Police Officer, currently on leave from the Chicago Police Department. Flesh alleges that the gun is hers. The gun was apparently kept in a locked box in a locked closet and was registered.
The juxtaposition of a hip hop artists who raps specifically about breaking drug, gun, and RICO laws being married to a member of the law enforcement community is indeed interesting. How are we to understand this juxtaposition and where does it take us? Does it challenge notions of hip hop authenticity? Open up discursive space? Not matter at all? As of yet, Isabel Flores, Flesh's wife nor the Chicago Police Department have made any comment.
As to the marijuana, Shepard Kopp (Flesh's lawyer) claims that Flesh has a medical marijuana card. “He’s got a card for that. It’s not hard to get one of those,” said Kopp.
Shepard Kopp is also an interesting character and adds another important facet to the story. Attorney Kopp works for the Law Offices of Geragos & Geragos, home of the famous criminal defense attorney, Mark Geragos. Geragos has defended Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, and currently represents Chris Brown in the Rihanna case. It appears that Flesh is taking his criminal problems seriously, hiring a criminal law firm linked to so many media-rich cases. What role do famous attorneys have in the criminal justice system? How do we evaluate the importance of media savvy in a case? Are lawyers become public relations gurus more than legal experts?
I'm sure there will be more information to come, but Flesh's unfortunate predicament should allow us some time to reflect on gun violence, medical marijuana, and if nothing else, celebrity attorneys.
I'm hoping Flesh-n-Bone comes out of these circumstances unscathed, but only time will tell. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony have been an important presence in the hip hop community and although they haven't seen the success they once knew, they still have a distinctive style and commanding musical presence.
-- Nick J. Sciullo