Layzie Bone: Next Plateau

For 15 years, Bone Thugs N' Harmony has successfully been able to service the mainstream with singles that were defiantly street. Whether it was the gangsta gospel of "Crossroads" to the empathetic "Hard Time Hustlin'," the legendary rap group never catered. However, with their latest album Strength & Loyalty, the three-man outfit wasn't embraced by the urban radio, instead it was Top 40 that gravitated to "I Tried," "Wind Blow" and now "Lil' L.O.V.E." Layzie Bone is as puzzled as anyone. Retracing points in his career, the member cannot understand why the supposedly-street-minded radio has turned their back on the group. Never no mind, Layzie instead talks about reacting to the new direction, a possible extension with Interscope, and now versus the man in the Ruthless days. Whatever the masses are feeding on, Hip-Hop needs Bone Thugs N' Harmony, and the trio considers their craft a responsibility. I would say that Strength & Loyalty is one of the biggest success stories of 2007. Tell me where your head is at right now, at the halfway point of the year?Layzie Bone: I’m pleased with radio, even though urban radio ain’t really f*cking with Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, and I don’t really understand why. They keep pushing us like we are some type of crossover group, or some s**t like that; then making us jump through all kinda hoops to get our records played on urban radio. While Pop [radio] is bangin’ “I Tried.” As far as video exposure, we haven’t really had no TV exposure like that. We did the BET Awards, that was cool. It was really, really nice up in there; I really enjoyed that show. But as far as Bone’s exposure, you know I mean, as far as on television, I guess we put the wrong video out at the wrong time. We was coming out of winter into the summer, and I don’t now what really happened with that. But the numbers are decent. All in all, you know what I mean, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony is really, really in work mode, trying to really get back to feel where our fanbase is at. Because a lot of places we go, and a lot of cities we go to most people still don’t know our album is Was it always in place for “Lil’ L.O.V.E.” to be the second single or was that pretty much a reaction from Pop radio running with “I Tried”?Layzie Bone: Yeah, it was a reaction. That was basically how Interscope took it from not being able to get urban on [“I Tried”]. But Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, actually we wanted to go with “Candy Paint” and do something kinda street before we even went with “Lil’ L.O.V.E.” That’s the whole thing, like right now… I feel like we kinda….Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, we still in the fight to really be in control of our s**t right now. Because the record company and Pop radio requested that we do “Lil’ L.O.V.E.” and I figured that we shoulda did that for like a third or maybe fourth video, after we touched the streets. Right now, man, it’s like, it’s a fight- it’s a boxing match. And basically, I feel like we waiting for the Lord to really pet in our favor again, so Bone Thugs N’ Harmony to get in position to really take over the game. By Bizzy not being cooperative and really f**king with the group, and Flesh being locked up, all them things really factoring in, and we been really, really fighting to get that s**t off our shoulder. Motherf**kers want to know why is Bone Thugs N’ Harmony a three member group right now. All these different questions, I wouldn’t say…got us stagnated, because we far from stagnated-we still moving units and all that s**t, but I say we at a plateau right now where everything is smoothed out. We at the top of the hill but it’s a flat plain, and we coasting on that flat plain right now until we get all the cooperation we really need. Of anybody in Hip-Hop you guys probably have the most loyal fans. What sort of new fans have you guys witnessed coming on board with Strength & Loyalty?Layzie Bone: That’s what’s amazing about it. When we speak from that aspect, we do have the most loyal fans outta anybody in Hip-Hop, period. Everybody knows the story, our fans is dynamite, they down like a motherf**ker. The new fans… s**t, they getting younger. When we go to our Bone Thugs shows that we do, when its nobody else on the bill, our fans is like eight, nine years old. Our fanbase is really, really just growing. But for some reason we haven’t had that overexposure on television. You don’t see Bone on BET or MTV all day, everyday the way you see the artist that’s really out, that really got a big influence right now. That’s the only difference is, they don’t see us like that. So, that really goes with us, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, really putting together our plan right now to do all those different things to get us that extra On “Streets,” I really like the chemistry that you guys have with and The Game on that, it’s just a dope record. What do you remember about when he was signed to Ruthless Records, and you guys were the stars of the label?Layzie Bone: I remember when I first met It was like, we was just getting down with Eazy-E and [Will’s group the At Back Clan] had already been down with Eazy-E. I remember when they walked in the office and were signing, and we like, “What the hell Eazy-E doing with these n***as?” They were dressed up in thrift store clothes, they was doing the breaking and beat locking, and all that type s**t. So our initial reaction, to be honest, we was like, “Now what the hell is they doing?” ‘Cause that wasn’t our style, it was totally opposite of what we were doing. But I member when E introduced us, we immediately hit it off with….blowing trees-I don’t know if was smoking back then, but he was around. It was like we immediately hit it off even though we was so different. They was in the At Back Clan. [Ruthless] had At Back Clan, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, H.W.A. [Hoes Wit’ Attitudes], GBM, E had a variety of [artists]...crazy. That’s why when we did the song we was like, “We gon’ do this one for E.” That was like some of Eazy-E protégés from back in the day, like, he wanted us to work, and we felt like E’s spirit was I heard that because this album has done so well, you guys are gonna get a second album on Interscope.Layzie Bone: Its very, very heavily possible. I’ma just say this: we did over 100 songs for the album that’s out now, Strength & Loyalty. And most of our street s**t didn’t make the album. We looking to do something that’s all street, no radio. All that "Thuggish Ruggish [Bone]," "No Surrender," "Down foe My Thang," [all of which were on] Creeping on ah Come Up type s**t, that never made the album, but was classics on the album. That’s very, very There’s a rumor out there that very early on in you guys career that you guys were deeply influenced by the Ouija Board. I just wanted to see if that was true or not, and if so, to what extent?Layzie Bone: It wasn’t early in our career, it was way before our career. We went to Toys ‘R Us, we heard some kids talking about it in school, and we bought a Parker Brothers’ Ouija Board, and we played with it. It was just something that we experienced, it wasn’t like it was something real big in our s**t. We got in trouble from it by Krayzie’s mama, after she explained to us what it was. It was probably a two, three week period in all our high school years. So no we wasn’t involved in the Ouija Tell me what you can about “Lockdown Love.” It appeared on Krayzie’s 2005 album Gemini: Good Vs. Evil. It was dedicated to your brother Flesh. Layzie Bone: When I sat down I was really, really missing my brother. Bone Thuggs N’ Harmony, we go though some many different obstacles, I’m pretty sure everybody in business do. But it was one of them things that I was feeling overwhelmed. And I felt like if my brother was here things would be more smoother, because he took business management in college, and all those different things. I refer to him as Flesh for the world to know who my brother is, and what it feel like to have one locked up. But I was missing Stanley Howse, you know what I mean. The tears dripping down on my paper, that’s just what came out of it.