Without radio or video love, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony continues to party like it’s E. 1999. Claiming to have sold six figures during a quiet stint with Koch Records, the group won over the resurging ear of Swizz Beatz in his 2005 comeback, and he got behind the group. Based off of the Mariah Carey remix for “Don’t Forget About Us,” Interscope Records signed the group in early 2006. In 2007, the Cleveland trio’s Strength and Loyalty will be released into a much more open field. This might just be exactly what Krayzie, Layzie, and Wish Bone need to get their rapid fire flows and grimy subject matter back in the mainstream.
Krayzie Bone spoke to AllHipHop.com about the high stakes. With Bizzy Bone removed from the group and Flesh still serving a bid, Krayzie makes a case that this is still the same, great group. He compares the Ruthless Records’ last stars to their first – N.W.A. Read what Krayzie Bone’s talking about, and see if you’re willing to get behind the same group that ruled the charts a decade ago.
AllHipHop.com: You released your first album 13 years ago. How do you compare the pressure of recording that one to the pressure of recording your comeback album?
Krayzie Bone: Actually, it’s kind of different, because there was really no pressure when we were doing our first album. We were just making music. We didn’t know what the hell was going on. We didn’t know s**t about making a hit; we didn’t even know what a f**king hit was. We were just in there making music. We just made an album, worry free. We were happy to be doing music with Eazy-E. Now there is a lot of pressure on us. We’ve been out the scene for a while, one of the members is no longer with us, and one of our other members is locked up. We’ve been through some turbulent times and there was a lot of pressure on us just because of that. There was a lot of hearsay about Bone not being the same without this person or that person, and [that] we fell off or whatever. We basically came to the table with this album, just going against the grain. Knowing that everything was against us; we just put all that negativity toward making a dope ass album. We know that we still got it, regardless of what people say. Krayzie and Layzie put Bone Thugs together, and as long as we got Krayzie and Layzie in the game, Bone is going to be Bone for real.
AllHipHop.com: You guys managed to have some success going the independent route, why change that up and sign to a major label like Interscope?
Krayzie Bone: When you take a group like Bone, people are used to Bone selling records. People like Bone’s music and [an] independent is only going to do so much to promote a project, that’s why they are independent. We feel like when we do Bone albums, that’s music we don’t like to waste. We like to reach our fans and have the project promoted right, and have it done the right way. What better machine can we have behind us then Interscope: the number one Hip-Hop label out right now. With that machine behind us, and the muscle they will put behind us, we know we can definitely win with the music we’re putting out right now.
AllHipHop.com: Your reputation was pretty much as bad as it can be within the record industry, how did you guys manage to get a label like Interscope behind you when you guys were so close to essentially being blackballed?
Krayzie Bone: Our reputation was diminished. I guess it was just by the grace of God we got through that. We were always able to be blessed enough to stay on something current and be on someone’s single that was current and keep it going.
AllHipHop.com: Since BTNH Resurrection, it seems people have always been trying to put the final nail in the coffin for Bone Thugs. What do you think you guys have done to stick around and stay relevant?
Krayzie Bone: That’s what the industry says, but you should never go by what the industry says. They aren’t the genuine fans that go buy the music and listen to it, and know what they want to hear. We know our fans still want to hear our music; they’ve been begging for it the whole time we’ve been gone. That’s why we sold over 100,000 copies over at Koch with absolutely no promotion whatsoever. We got that loyal fan base and they stick behind what we’re doing because they know the music we’re doing is still current. We were always before our time, now other rappers and other artists are catching on to our style, and everybody’s using it – not just rappers, but R&B singers as well.
AllHipHop.com: The one thing that’s different about this album is the guest appearances. You’ve decided to go with a lot of guest producers and guest appearances. Why did you decide to go that route?
Krayzie Bone: It was something that had never been done. That’s basically what Bone is all about, doing stuff that hasn’t been done. The collaborations that we have [on this album], people would never expect us to get with those artists and do songs that sound as good as they do. The only other artist that has ever been on our albums are Tupac, Biggie and Eazy, and they all died so it’s about time we ventured out and tried to work with other artists.
AllHipHop.com: What statement do you think it makes when you have so many of these young cats like Chamillionaire, The Game and Akon rallying around you guys?
Krayzie Bone: I think it’s a hell of an impact. “Ridin’ Dirty” with Chamillionaire helped both of us out. It helped Chamillionaire out, and it helped Bone out as well. It let people know that the Bone is still here and we did this, and we put this down and we’re still the masters of it, no matter what. No matter what! N***as might say Bone fell off, but what are they doing? They’re singing on their hooks and doing s**t we brought to the game. It’s all good, it’s all good.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people are talking about the dynamic of the group, and you guys now being a trio. There are some similarities to when Ice Cube left N.W.A. and the questions that surrounded that group. What do you say to people to doubt Bone in its current form?
Krayzie Bone: That’s exactly how I compare us. I remember when Ice Cube left N.W.A., and everyone thought that N.W.A was going to fall off. Me, I was into the music and the behind the scenes stuff. I would read up on all the rappers, and I knew what was going on and I knew that they weren’t going to fall off. I knew they had the main dudes that they needed. Ice Cube was hard, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not like one man broke the group and that’s how I feel Bone Thugs N’ Harmony is. One man doesn’t break Bone Thugs N’ Harmony.
AllHipHop.com: You have a very loyal fan base, but you almost have two separate fan bases. There are those who like “Tha Crossroads”, “Days of Our Livez” tracks and the ones who like the “No Surrender”, “Body Rott” tracks. How do you balance that when you record?
Krayzie Bone: That’s automatic with us. We’ve been doing that since the beginning. We always made the crossover conscience songs for radio, and always had street songs, so it’s nothing different. When we go to do albums, we basically know that’s the chemistry, and we try to do it in different kind of ways and change it up a little bit. That’s what we go in and do, make the music for both sides.
AllHipHop.com: With sales down in Hip-Hop right now, it’s hard to do the numbers you guys are accustomed to. Do you worry that this album will be judged more on the numbers rather then the quality of music?
Krayzie Bone: Oh yeah, everybody does. There isn’t an artist that’s out right now that doesn’t worry about that. The game is so fickle and it’s changed so much that you have to be worried about your money. This is our livelihood. We just got to go in there and really get to work and promote and get ready to get down and dirty. We have to work how we did when we first came out when we were hungry and had nothing. That’s how we’re coming, like we’re straight off the block. Same grinding until we get back to where we need to be.