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.
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?”
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.