It’s one of the most intriguing and fascinating sagas in Hip-Hop history.
The story of Bone Thugs N Harmony has been told, and re-told, for the better part of two decades. Their journey from homeless thugs on the streets of Cleveland to international superstars is well-documented. But despite their groundbreaking style, multiple awards and millions of records sold, the Bone Thugs story has been overshadowed by inner turmoil for the better part of the new millennium. Whether it was jail time, bad record deals, or feuding members, Bone Thugs seemed to always be making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
With their 20-year anniversary approaching, it seems fitting that the newest set of Bone rumors have surfaced early in the calendar year. Talks of the latest reunion album are heating up, but this time with a twist. If you believe the rumors, the latest effort would take place without the man considered by many as the group leader, Layzie Bone.
Layzie has heard the whispers and he’s had enough.
In this AllHipHop.com exclusive, Layzie holds nothing back when discussing the past, present and future of his legendary group. In this honest, unfiltered, and emotional sit-down, Layzie makes it crystal clear that things within his camp are far from perfect. In this explosive interview, the 37-year-old speaks with a purpose. He’s tired of the games, he’s tired of the discord, and he’s tired of the confusion within his group. This is a story that goes far beyond music, far beyond a group of rappers trying to get on the same page and cement their legacy. This is a story about family, a story of one man’s relentless attempt to remind his four brothers what really matters. This is a thug's plea:
AllHipHop.com: I’m here with Layzie Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony with AllHipHop.com. Layzie, I’m going to start with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. What’s the current status of the group, because we haven’t heard you talk about it since Uni5 came and went?
Layzie Bone: Well, first of all, much love to AllHipHop and you, George. Yeah, man, the current status of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is like it always is. There’s a little discord within our family and we’re trying and trying to put it together, you know what I mean. But sometimes it feels close to impossible, sometimes it feels like we’re really close to getting it together. At this current stage right now, you got myself, Bizzy, and Flesh talking on the daily and trying to keep our bargain of the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony brand alive. And then you got Krayzie and Wish out touring the world as Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, but promoting [The Life Entertainment]. That’s basically where we are right now, it’s like we’re a little bit divided. I’ma keep it one hundred, we’re divided.
AllHipHop.com: Fans listening to this, especially your immediate fans who follow you on Facebook, Twitter and what not might be a bit confused, because a couple of weeks ago everybody was waiting on you. Now do you want to clear that up in terms of how that’s going?
Layzie Bone: Oh, I definitely want to clear that up because for one, let me tell you one thing, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has never had to wait on me. Ever. I was always the one, whether it was Bizzy going through his trials and tribulation, my brother, big Flesh, going to the penitentiary, going through his trials and tribulations, whether it was Krayzie Bone quitting the group and Wish following everything Krayzie do, I was always the one telling everybody Yo! We gotta come together, we’re family. We gotta do this together, together, together, together. That’s always been me. I’m the one with the motto that says "T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Achieves More."
Now, with that being said, it was some things that happened over the Internet, when me and my brothers were talking, face to face, not long ago in Cleveland, a couple of weeks ago. We’re sitting there talking about the possibility of things like going on tour as the five-man group, touring the world as the five-man, we never did that. There are deals on the table with people that really want to see Bone Thugs-N-Harmony as a whole.
Now out of the sky blue, I turn on my Mac, and I’m looking at Facebook, and I run across Bob Francis’s page. Now, Bob Francis was our manager during the Uni5 album, and during the I Tried movie. And Bob Francis had the fate of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in his hands and it didn’t quite work out. It was a lot of emotions and different distractions and different manipulations, whispering in this one ear, telling Kray he’s the greatest, telling me I’m the leader, telling Flesh he’s the oldest and he should be running things. It’s like all this manipulative things, this dude just pops up after I was forced to give dude the news that he was fired.
So now he’s saying, “We got [Bizzy], we got [Flesh], we got [Wish], we got [Krayzie], now we’re just waiting on one more.” And that was like a subliminal ass shot, because he named Krayzie, he named Wish, he named Bizzy, and he named my brother. So now you’re waiting on me when I was just sitting here throwing all kinds of plans and ultimatums on the table of what we can do? And this guy just sat there and straight manipulated our whole [Uni5] deal. He’s renting cars, he’s paying people out of a budget that we hadn’t approved, it’s taking too long to see the budget when we requested it, and flippin’ on this guy. You know what I mean, it was just a bunch of misappropriation of funds.
Now not only did he misappropriate, I don’t really appreciate that man. He on the internet, and then I read further, and he’s bragging about 6x platinum is the I Tried movie. Now, mind you, we ain’t seen a muthaf*ckin’ dime off of this movie. So what happened was, while he’s bragging about being the executive producer, his pockets probably fat as f*ck off of it, because what they did was go to Interscope and negotiate a deal that was supposed to be like a videography type of thing. So what they did was, they wrote it into our recording budget as a video.
And for us to be 6x platinum, which is 100,000 in the DVD world, for those that don’t know I want to clarify, but that’s 100,000 times $20 that somebody made. So that’s 600,000 times $20 that somebody made that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony didn’t see a f*ckin’ penny on. Now here you got this man Bob Francis bragging on this sh*t, on the Internet, and to me it’s spittin’ in my muthaf*ckin’ face because I’m always on top of our sh*t as best as I can. I’m not the best person in the world, the most educated, but I am an intelligent muthaf*cka and I read people like a book. You can’t play me. And that’s the reason why he got fired, because he was causing too much division within our camp.
So I see this, and I call my brother, because I don’t leave no stones unturned. I say, Kray, tell me you ain’t dealin’ with this, with these n*ggas. And, matter of fact, I done talked to everybody but Bob since then ‘cause I care not to talk to that muthaf*cka. He’s a snake. And I’ll put it out there. And I’ll be in Boston, I know where he live, and it don’t matter. Because a muthaf*cka took food out my baby’s mouth.
Now Kray felt like, “I don’t burn bridges, and I was taught to keep my relationships. I let bygones be bygones.” So what did I say? Okay, man, dude f*cked us, and dude f*cked up a lot of things, but you want to be friends with him? What did I do, I said okay, man, I’ll be watchin’ your back from a distance, bro. Because, God forbid, anybody try to hurt any one of my Bone members, you will understand what the #1 Assassin means.
And I mean that dearly. That’s not a threat to nobody, I don’t threaten people, but I’m just trying to get my fans and everybody to see, the littlest guy in the group got this big ass heart full of love for my brothers. And I’m passionate when I say these things, and I want to get it out there truthful, and I still want to give our fans that hope that I will never give up on these guys. Because I grew up with them. Because 20 years of success is something you can’t get back. And I’ma cherish that till the day I die.
AllHipHop.com: We talked a couple of nights ago on the phone, and one thing I don’t think people realize is that while this is entertainment and music to them, this is real life to you. When I was talking to you I could hear pain in your voice and a sense of desperation for the situation. Try to explain how deep this runs when it comes to you, because this is something that you’re not just brushing off and saying I’m going solo.
Layzie Bone: Yeah, I mean I might do a solo album but I’m never going solo. I don’t like being by myself. I spent some time, August 23, 1989, I went to jail for the first time in my life. And that was the very first time I was away from my n*ggas. When I got back, the very first thing I did – they was all separated and divided – was put my n*ggas back together because while I was in Texas, when the Bone came to me with a friend of mine named Al Roundtree, it was like them niggas is all I got.
I ran away from Texas, stole my uncle’s plane ticket, took a plane out to Los Angeles, in Inglewood, California, only in attempt to make it back to Cleveland to get to them. So when we talk about this sh*t, dawg, I think about things like this. If something happens to us, who is gonna carry the casket? Who is gonna take care of our family? Because we are all we got, to me. Family is everything. I don’t lie in my music.
And I challenge any member of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to say your actions stood up to, say, Family Tree [The Art of War], (sings) “this is my family” … or Friends [The Art of War]. Did your actions really show that? Me myself, I got a timeline that I wrote, and I know who did what, when, and do your actions speak for everybody? Mines do.
And all I’m saying is my n*ggas is everything to me, dawg. When I talked to you the other night, the reason why I wanted to re-talk to you is because I was hurt, I was crying, man, that shit broke me the f*ck down. And I feel like every time I talk about this sh*t, I want to break down. Because I ain’t got nothing but these n*ggas. When it all comes down, all the new friends, all the deals we had, when you take all that sh*t away, it’s just gon’ be us.
We got our kids and all that, but our kids yearn to be together, which we don’t even take time to make sure they’re kickin’ it and get it like that. Lil’ Ant [Krayzie Bone’s son] love lil’ Stevie [Layzie Bone’s son], lil’ Stevie love lil’ Ant. We live 30 minutes away, do we see each other enough? In my opinion, no. Because family is everything. We buried Wally, we put a Faces of Death cd in his, buried my n*gga Hollywood, we buried Terry, we buried Boo.
How many we gotta bury? And then I can go on and on and on about how many n*ggas I done put in the ground and had to pay for the funeral. All the people that was around because it was a flame, or because the light was on, they wasn’t there, man. And that’s what motivates me to keep Bone together. And I’m not venting, I don’t have a problem.
Let me tell you, this is why I was so hurt the other day. Because it was a certain leg of shows that the promoter was trying to book Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Now only three of us can travel across seas. Now Bizzy can go now, too, thank God. And now we’re working on Flesh. I’m trying to make sure all of us can go at the same time and give the world the whole feel of what we’ve been doing. But it broke my muhf*ckin’ heart because Knuckles, my manager at this present time, Knuckles Management, Mr. Chris Dumas, get a call from somebody in Germany, like, “yeah, we’ve been looking for Lay. We wanted to know what is his minimum that he’ll take to come over and be a part of this tour.”
I’m like, sh*t, well, it’s whatever. But at the same time, dude got us on the phone for two-and-a-half hours and he’s hittin’ Krayzie, and he sent me all the correspondence that they talking about, sayin’ that he asked Krayzie Bone to get in contact with me to see what it was that I would take to come be a part of. And they hit him back and said, “it’s only me and Wish. If you talk to Layzie Bone, then ain’t nothin’ happenin’, the whole deal is off.”
If they talk to me? Now I’m sittin’ here wondering what the f*ck did I do to you niggas? I’m the same nigga that was talking for the group in the beginning in 1986, in 1989, in 1990 when I was working at KFC. And I was bringing chicken home, and I was living at Vickie’s house ‘cause my mother was in the penitentiary, and they was living with me at my girlfriend’s house. And her mother let me live there because she had a two-family house, and they let me live downstairs because my mother was in the penitentiary. N*ggas stayed with me. I’m the same n*gga who bought the clothes for the talent show. You feel me, like, what the f*ck did I do so wrong that you puttin’ it out there like, we don’t f*ck with Lay. Now I gotta talk. ‘Cause that’s treachery to me. You makin’ people think I’m this f*cked up ol’ entity. And it’s a lot of things that went on that I won’t go into now, but you better believe my book gon’ be a motherf*cker, and I don’t have to lie about nothing.
That’s why I broke down the other night, man. I’m trying to get it together, and guess what, I’m still trying. If Krayzie Bone can read this and dispute it, I’d love to hear his take on it. Because every time there’s a problem, I go straight to him and he tell me we straight. So what the f*ck are you telling people that if you talk to Layzie Bone, then the whole deal is off? I can’t get no money with y’all n*ggas? If I can’t get no money, can’t nobody get no money. Period. And that’s how the f*ck I feel, dawg. And I live by the street code. Real n*ggas do real things at all times. If you have a problem with somebody, you take it to them.
Kray is a quiet individual, he tends to sit back and harbor things in his mind. That’s why our team was so f*ckin’ strong, because he’s sittin’ there thinking up them bomb *ss ideas, and he got that nice, soft voice, and Bizzy’s voice mixes so well with that high *ss pitch, and Flesh right there can go either way, and me and Wish with our strong ass, straight up strong voices, it all comes together like glue. I’m all about rekindling things. I’m all about forgiveness. I’m all about we’re not perfect, we tend to f*ck up. But that Bob Francis muthaf*cka, I wouldn’t trust that n*gga as far as I could spit. The way Bob played his hand, and tried to play me and pit one against each other …
Dawg, for the Uni5 album I had a deal for our reality show called "Living in Harmony". Bob somehow got into Krayzie and Wish’s ear, and they shot that idea down. I had a tour, they shot that idea down. It was called Uni5 for a reason, we were supposed to unify and I believe if we had fully unified without the serpent in the middle … You know what I mean, Kray quit the group for four months at that time, sent in a letter, ‘cause we would have been signed to Interscope.
At first they didn’t want to do it, but we could have made that thing work, we just sold a million f*ckin’ records over there. So Kray quit the group for a minute, sent in a letter unbeknownst to any member in the group, he sent this letter sayin’ I’m no longer in the group. Just like he quit the group all the time. That shows character, huh? What kind of character is that? Damn sure ain’t no integrity in that. But me being me, “Bro, what’s wrong? Come on. We gotta do this.”
So whatever reason it was, I was taught that a quitter never wins, and a winner never quits. So with that being said, you ain’t never seen Layzie Bone give up. So all these different things that been goin’ on and been bubblin’ is festering inside me. I don’t feel like I became the best artist that I possibly can be because I hold in a lot of sh*t that I want to say. Why? For the respect of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Because of our fans, I don’t want to confuse them, but somehow we always do. That tour they just went on, n*ggas braggin’ about 47 dates, and we just did a whole worldwide tour, you’re sellin’ them that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
But I just seen an AllHipHop.com interview just [a few] days ago that they ended the tour they was on in New York City. So many fans hittin’ me thought that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony was comin’. Since you’re out there “I’m The Life Entertainment,” why not call it "Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone Represent The Life"? Why is it Bone Thugs-N-Harmony featuring Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone? Well, why not just be honest and say it’ll be Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony? People think I’m coming. They hittin’ me on my Twitter, they hittin’ me on my Facebook. They think I’m coming. Why don’t y’all talk to your promoter and tell them how to promote it right. But we all know, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony draws the f*ckin’ crowd, not The Life Entertainment, so be honest.
And to have an attitude of a superstar – I’ma be totally honest with you, ain’t nann n*gga in Bone Thugs-N-Harmony rich. We do alright. We get by. Them records we sold keep good royalties coming in and we’re always on tour for the rest of our lives. But we ain’t rich, dawg, so who the f*ck gives anybody the right in Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to think they better than another n*gga? And I ain’t doggin’ nobody, I ain’t disrespecting nobody. I’m just hoping one day that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony can put themselves in the studio. I own a studio, Krayzie Bone owns a studio. Between them two studios, what the f*ck do we need a company for to make an album? Muhf*ckas act like we need a budget to make an album. That sh*t is insane to me.
Check back for Part 2 of AllHipHop.com's epic interview with Layzie Bone later this week!