It’s almost unheard of for musicians to change their name after 25 years, especially when that change is part of a marketing campaign for an American casual dining restaurant known for their chicken wings. In either a coup for marketing professionals everywhere or a sign that no one (even legendary hip-hop groups) are immune to capitalism’s allure, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony announced on February 19th that their new name is Boneless Thugs-N-Harmony — a homage to Buffalo Wild Wings.
In addition to the overarching name swap, three members of the group will also go by new monikers. Krayzie Bone, Flesh-N-Bone, and Wish Bone are now Krayzie Boneless, Flesh-N-Boneless, and Wish Boneless. According to the marketing materials released by Buffalo Wild Wings, Layzie Bone is not on board with the new “Boneless” identity. “I ain’t changing shit,” Layzie says in a Behind The Music-esque spoof released in conjunction with the announcement. “Bone Thugs-N-Harmony changes their name to Boneless. It’s preposterous.”
According to Seth Freeman, the CMO of Buffalo Wild Wings, there’s a complicated, non-monetary reason for the name change. “These boneless wings are so good, what if they made Bone Thugs-N-Harmony have an identity crisis,” Freeman wrote in a statement. In reality, the group’s longtime manager Steve Lobel says he was approached by a marketing agency a few months ago about the campaign. “Three of the four were down with it,” Lobel says. “Layzie Bone was hesitant, and he’s still hesitant about it. He wasn’t with it, but the other three gentlemen were.” Lobel has worked with the group since 1994, meeting them through Eazy-E.
Boneless Thugs-N-Harmony will sell merchandise featuring the new name, including t-shirts, hats, and a golden boneless chicken chain. When asked whether the group will change their social handles or release music under their new moniker, Lobel was cagey. “It’s a lot of things they’re working on,” he continued. “We have a lot of things that we can’t discuss at the moment.”
The Midwestern crew went through a variety of names in their quarter-century as a group — The Band Aid Boys, B.O.N.E. Enterpri$e — before settling on Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. At this time, it’s unclear how long the Boneless-era will last.