HOME AT THEIR OWN LABEL AND TAKING THINGS DAY-TO-DAY, ANTHONY ‘KRAYZIE BONE’ HENDERSON OPINES FRANKLY WITH RIP NICHOLSON ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM OF, AND CHEMISTRY WITHIN, BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY.
KRAYZIE BONE interviewed @ 10.15 AEST – Thursday 30th September, 2010
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press.
[Full Q & A below]
It’s been ten years at least since the five original members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony have assembled on one album, and accompanying Uni5: The World’s Enemy is an Australia tour for Krayzie, Layzie, Wish, Bizzy and Flesh-N-Bone. With the braids cut off and weed off the menu in 2010, the Cleveland mainstays of harmonised hip hop are back together for now.
“We’ve got a few issues but hopefully everything will work out and we can get on this tour,” Henderson says reassuringly of the continuation of the Bone Thugs saga. “Everything is cool man, we taking it one day at a time. We tryin’ to get everything together, it’s a very positive vibe going on at the moment.”
Last time Bone Thugs appeared in Australia they were saddled amidst a cavalcade of West Coast juggernauts in Ice Cube, WC, Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound, but only three members of the group were involved. Both Bizzy Bone and Flesh-N-Bone have been through tumultuous times of late with Flesh having been incarcerated for a lengthy term and Bizzy almost preferring to stay disconnected, insisting that he remain a guest to the skeletal core of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The groups dynamic is still on tender hooks, but at this stage the fab five should unite before us on various stages across the nation this month.
One of the first to break out of the US Midwest, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are pioneers of a unique style of rapid-fire raps delivered through harmonised vocals, known as the “Cleveland Sound”. They formed in 1991 and saw their first underground album Faces Of Death released two years later along with a recording contract with Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records. By ‘94 their debut studio EP Creepin’ On Ah Come Up was followed sharply by their highest-selling studio LP, 1995’s E 1999 Eternal containing their smash hit Grammy-awarded single, ‘Crossroads’. The entire project was produced by label mate and sixth member of the crew DJ U-Neek who continued to work their ‘97 album The Art Of War, 2000’s BTNHResurrection and has become the catalyst to the Bone Thugs formula made famous at Ruthless Records in the aftermath of NWA.
After the 2007 album Strength & Loyalty (under Swizz Beats’ direction) the Thugs moved out of an uncomfortable situation within Interscope Records and headed up their own imprint, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Worldwide. They reverted back to working with long time cohorts DJ U-Neek and LT Hutton to season it and as Henderson explains, it was an important move to cook up the new album with DJ U-Neek for those original beats sliced right off the thuggish-ruggish bone. “When we got started on this we always had the idea of involving Neek on the project. And that’s exactly what we did. We had other producers on the album as well but we definitely wanted to make sure we that U-Neek vibe and flavour back in there as well.”
But despite numerous reviews heralding the MCs for maintaining their unfaltering flow on this album, Krayzie admits it was U-Neek’s standard of beat-making that wasn’t up to par. “We wanted to bring U-Neek into the fray, but I told him his production isn’t what it used to be back in the day,” Henderson admits, “we had a lot of songs that didn’t go on the album and got lost in the fold of things. We plan on putting those songs out like, on a lost tape, lost files kinda album but we definitely wanna get them out.”
Also a contributing factor to the album sliding for under 45,000 units sold inside it’s first week was fifth Bone Thug Bizzy Bone, who seemed intent on his own divine quest throughout the LP. “Honestly, we all find that to be strange. We even try to talk to him about sticking to the subject of the songs but like, a lot of things that he’s going through right now, no-one can really get into his mind right now. I just think we’re fortunate enough to get him in the studio and record with him for the album.”
After several delays to the album’s release, in May their ninth LP Uni5: The World’s Enemy dropped and against all odds was awarded four out of five stars by XXL Magazine. It brings Bone Thugs-N-Harmony back into cohesion and down under for what will be a landmark occasion, five friends who have always seen themselves standing alone against the world on one stage together.
“We always thought we were going against the grain in our careers,” Henderson answers in reference to the meaning behind the The World’s Enemy title. “We’re always the outcasts and the outlaws of the industry. We always felt that we had to show that we can still do it after all these years.”
And with 30 million records sold, they are building a legacy of over 17 years now – and according to Krayzie Bone, it still feels special. “Oh yeah, it’s still a wonderful thing. We still and will always love making music. We’re true lovers of music, you know being able to get back in the studio and do what we do together, it’s a wonderful thing. We can still make a statement and we feel our presence is still felt in the game today.”
[Full Q & A below]
Q & A with KRAYZIE BONE
[Before Wu-Tang Australia tour.]
Where are you right now?
Last time you guys came down with Ice Cube and Snoop, we got you, Layzie and Wish… Who exactly is coming down on this Bone Thugs tour?
Hopefully all of us. We’ve got a few issues but hopefully everything will work out and we can get on this tour. Everything is cool man, we taking it one day at a time. We tryin’ to get everything together, it’s a very positive vibe going on at the moment.
How often do you guys actually get together and go to the ball game – hang out?
We actually went to a baseball game the other day in Denver, Colorado.
Now you’re all under Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Worldwide label, that must be nice to finally be in the driving seat?
Oh yeah man it’s a wonderful thing. You know like, to be able to do what you want to do and make music your way. It’s a wonderful thing.
There is a big difference on the new album from Strength & Loyalty, you’ve stripped back the Swizzy cheese and back with DJ U-Neek – 100% Thuggish Ruggish Bone! Is that what it’s all about?
When we got started on this we always had the idea of involving Neek on the project. And that’s exactly what we did. We had other producers on the album as well but we definitely wanted to make sure we that U-Neek vibe and flavour back in there as well.
Uni5: dropped nicely around Flesh-N-Bone’s parole. The album suffered several delays, was it always planned as a welcome home present for Flesh?
We always had the idea that when he get out, we’d get back together. That was like a no brainer. He was home way before we started working on the album.
We actually started the album signed to Interscope. We didn’t like how things were going at Interscope and we found a way to get out of those contracts and we did a partnership with Warner Brothers so there was a lot of drama behind the album. That’s why the release date changed a couple of times.
What was the concept or idea behind sub-title The World’s Enemy?
Man like we always thought we were going against the grain in our careers. Always the outcasts, the outlaws of the industry. We always felt that we had to show that we can still do it, after all these years and make good music. And like, we can still make a statement in the game. We can still make our presence felt in the game today.
Now since your start in ‘94 – still to this day, no group has come close to doing what Bone Thugs have become famous for. That unique hip hop in harmony. And with 30 million records sold – you’re building a legacy of over 17 years now, does it still feel special man?
Oh yeah man, it’s still a wonderful thing. We still and will always love making music. We’re true lovers of music, you know being able to get back in the studio and do what we do together, it’s a wonderful thing.
Do you ever hear anybody in the game trying to bite your style?
Man, all the time. Not just rappers, r&b singers as well. That’s been going out ever since we came out. Now we’re pretty used to it and we can understand it and look at it as a compliment. If all these cats wanna sound like us, they must like our style so you can’t get too upset over it.
It under-sold in its first few weeks, and some reviews have said you guys are absolutely flawless, pitch perfect and rapidly timed to perfection. However they believe DJ U-Neek’s production isn’t what it used to be, and the hyper-flashy last LP with Swizz Beats caught more attention for Bone Thugs, were you guys happy with how this album turned out and would you change anything?
Oh yeah we would change a lot of things. We wanted to bring U-Neek into the fray, but I told him his production isn’t what it used to be back in the day. We had a lot of songs that didn’t go on the album, didn’t make it on and got lost in the fold of things. We plan on putting those songs out like, on a lost tape, lost files kinda album but we definitely wanna get them out.
Now ‘Gangsta’s Glory’ was a fucking dope ass jam. Eazy-E on the hook! How come it never made the track-listing?
Maaan, I’m not even sure. We actually thought the songs we gonna make the album but we they wanted to keep the number of songs down, we had to keep it to a minimum. That’s another thing, we’re used to doing albums with like 16-17-18 tracks. But on this one we were all on publishing deals and we had to keep it to a minimum this time. But we had some nice songs that shoulda made the album though.
I noticed no tributes to the weed on the LP?
Me, myself personally I don’t really smoke any more. I recently quit and me, myself I’m leaning more toward making cleaner music. Like, I have kids who are growing up and want to listen to my music, so I wanna give them something clean you know. I’m trying to be more conscious of the messages that I’m putting out there.
Recently Layzie cut his braids, has anyone else cut their hair, is this a new age for Bone Thugs?
I cut mines like a couple months back too, I cut my braids off. Oh yeah man, definitely. Like, I tell everybody of course we’re gonna change. People get older, we’re the same people but we don’t have those same attitudes and same view of life and same way of thinking. When we first got into the game we were fresh off the streets – young, wild, reckless. That’s what our music portrayed. Now with us being away from that lifestyle for so long and being able to explore our music, your mentality changes. We always believe in keeping it real in our music. If we kept talking about being on the same streets like, back in the day it wouldn’t be real. It would be fake ’cause we’re not actually out there doing those things. But we can talk about what we see and hear in the streets and stuff and that’s keeping it real. We’re not actually trying to talk about about doing it out on the streets any more. We’re grown men with families, kids and wives. We’re not those dudes no more.
So I don’t have much info about the Australian tour, as well as the new album will we get the classics, like my favourites, ‘1st Of the Month’ and ‘Resurrection’?
Oh yeah definitely man we’re gonna be doing all those. All the classics, all the new ones it’s going down.
Now as a Cleveland native, how you feel about LeBron James going MIA next season?
Oh man, that was a sad day in Cleveland but overall he has a right to make that decision its his life his career. If he feels like he’ll accomplish his goals in another city, I mean you can’t be mad at him. I guess you can only do so much for Cleveland. He took us to the playoffs in the last four years and the championship which we didn’t win. But um, damn!
Guys like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley are saying he should do it on his own, not banding together with other superstars on one team.
I agree with that also, only that man knows what he was thinking and you know, it’s his career he has the right to make his own choice. We’ll see if it pays off when the season starts next.
I noticed Bizzy seems very religious in his lyrics, any very preoccupied by this through tracks?
Honestly man, we all find that to be strange. We even try to talk to him about sticking to the subject of the songs but like, a lot of things that he’s going through right now, no-one can really get into his mind right now. I just think we’re fortunate enough to get him in the studio and record with him for the album.