Bone Thugs-n-Harmony have remained an anomaly in Hip-Hop. Now nearly 20 years in the biz, the group is hitting the road with all of it's original members. Krayzie Bone, the self-described leader of the group, recently sat down with Emily Berkey for AllHipHop to discuss Rock the Bells, Eazy E's legacy, the building an empire from music to TV and fashion.
AllHipHop: Last time we met we were with the other four members of Bone Thugs. They stated that you were kind of the leader, or visionary. Why do you think they've allowed you to be in that leadership position?
Krayzie Bone: Even way back, I would be the one to be the beat digger. I'd sit around and think about things all the time. Always came with ideas. I was the person in the studio last to leave and I came up with a lot of ideas.
Has that ever caused controversy among all 5 of you?
Sometimes, we do have disagreements. They don't like my ideas all the time. They pretty much respect and know that I'm not going to do anything stupid. If we have a difference, we just vote on it, you know? We keep it fair. I'm never like, “We're doing this and that's it.” Everyone still has input.
So you're not the boss, just the leader?
Yeah, I don't want to be telling people what to do. I don't do that.
How's your anniversary album going? Have you been working on it?
What we've been doing since we've been on the road, we've made a few songs. Maybe four solid songs. We've been doing it in between being on the road, me working on other projects, working with other artists. But we're trying to get it done.
When we met up last I asked everyone about whether you're going to retire after you make it into the R&R Hall of Fame. I know it's on your list of things to do. Everyone else said they made it clear they weren't retiring, but you, the leader of the group, you didn't say anything about that. What's your take on retiring?
I'm actually working on a solo album that I think is going to be my last solo album for a while. I'm saying that because I've been in the game 20 years. I've made group albums, I've made solo albums.So after I finish this album, I'm going to fall back a bit and really start developing new, young talent. Start building an empire of music, really get in the back scenes and the executive side. It's about that time, you know?
Do you have people you're thinking about developing?
I do have some artists I'm working with. R&B, pop, rap, I'm trying to mix it up. I don't wanna be put in a box with the label I'm doing. I want all the artists to come out different.
Are we going to be able to see some of those artists on the Bone Thugs anniversary album?
I don't know about the anniversary album. You might hear one or two of them there, but they will definitely be on my solo project. It's going to be a double CD so they'll be showcased.
Do you know who you're going to have featured on the anniversary album yet?
We talked to a lot of artists already. Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, just about everybody. I don't think anyone's gonna say they don't wanna do it. They're supposed to be for sure. Whenever they're ready, they'll let us know. We're going after Mariah, trying to get everyone to celebrate us being together for 20 years. We have a good relationship with everyone in the business and we think we can make it a big album.
So Kendrick and Wiz will for sure be on the album?
Yes. Yes, they will.
You've been on tour for quite some time. You've been getting great reviews, you've been selling out shows and adding extra shows. From the outside it looks like you're having a great time on tour. But I know with five adult men on tour, you have separate lives you had to leave behind to go on tour. What's the hardest part about touring together?
Just leaving the kids behind. I have a daughter that's six years old. It's hard to explain to her, “I'll be back in a month.” She thinks it's a couple days, and when I'm not back my phone is blowing up. It's cool though, because even though I might go work for a month, I have two months at home to spend time with her. You've gotta balance it out. You gotta put the priorities first and go like that.
Kurupt spoke with someone the other day about a Dogg Pound and Bone Thugs album. What are your thoughts on that?
That would be crazy. That's something we've been talking about for a long time; we've actually been on tour with Snoop and Ice Cube in Australia back in 2008. We've been talking about it ever since then. We saw Kurupt in California and we got to talking, we have it as an idea and everybody is with it. The first track that comes, it's just gonna set it off.
You are working on your anniversary album, you're on tour right now, and you're working on side projects. When can we expect to see something you do with Tha Dogg Pound?
I don't know. Like I said, we just came to 'em last week. Hopefully we can get to the studio, but I don't know a set time when we'll jump off. It's an idea.
Kurupt said it would be called Thug Pound. Bizzy already did an album with that title with Bad Azz, though. If you could choose a title, what would it be?
I don't know, I'd have to sit back and think about it for a while. Thug Pound would be cool, but I think we can come up with something way crazier than that. But I would have to think about it.
There are rumored to be two documentaries in production regarding the life of your old mentor, Eazy-E. One of the films is allegedly going to be produced by his daughter. What are your thoughts on this documentary?
I think it's overdue. He played amazing – he IS west coast hip-hop. Besides Ice-T and a handful of others, he started the west coast hip-hop scene. Everything that has come from the west coast has come from Dr. Dre or Eazy-E. Everything. All the way down to Eminem and 50 Cent. He is the kind of the west coast and he started the whole gangster rap scene here in Los Angeles. That's a part of hip-hop history and people need to know that he started all that.
Have you been talked to about participating in this documentary?
No, no, I haven't. Last time I heard about anything it was his wife, but that was on N.W.A. They're shooting a moving on N.W.A. as well. The Easy-E documentary, I've heard about it but haven't been contacted.
It's rumored to be produced by his daughter. Is she someone you or Bone Thugs are in contact with?
We've met her several times and we performed at her Sweet 16 birthday party. She's real cool. I hope she gets it off the ground and gets it going. We could help. I hope they don't hesitate to reach out.
You have been quoted as saying, 'I want to be seen as not just a member of Bone Thugs but a guy who did it for music.' You recently put out some new music, The Quick Fix: Level 1, which is a 7-song EP. Can you tell me about that project?
That project is basically a prelude to the double CD that I have coming out called Chasing the Devil. It was supposed to come ago a long time ago, but I wanted to make sure I had the right situation and everything was right. When I announced that I was pushing the album back, the fans got crazy. They were upset about it. I had to go in studio and concoct something to put out something to hold them over until I got the album complete just the way I want it. It's a quick fix, and I'm actually thinking about doing the quick fix but my main thing is getting the Chasing the Devil album done because I've been working on it for a long time. I need to get it out of my system.
I was gonna ask if there was going to be a Level 2 because there is a Level 1, which implies that there will be a next level. Do you think your next level will be the Chasing the Devil album?
No, I think I'm going to keep it separate. I was thinking about starting a series. I have a mix tape called the Fixtape. There's Fixtape Volume 1, Fixtape Volume 2 and so on. I was thinking about doing the same thing with The Quick Fix. I have so many projects in my head that I want to do, I'm all over the place at this point
This EP came out on iTunes, it’s about $10, not bad. But a lot of newer artists have been putting out music for free; why did you decide to put a small charge on this?
I told my fans that when I release my Chasing the Devil album, I was going to release The Quick Fix on the internet for them to listen to, the entire first CD for free. They complained about it; they said they wanted to buy it. I thought they were crazy, I said wanted to give you something for free and y'all got mad at me because you wanted to buy it. If we put it out they're gonna support us.
What is your favorite line on The Quick Fix: Level 1?
One of my lyrics? One of my favorite verses is in one song called “Another Level,” the third verse. That's my favorite verse in the whole album. I was just like, going going constantly and my fans asked why I don't rap as fast as I used to, and I was going in hard.
One question I got from a lot of your fans after the last interview – they were telling me I should have asked you how you rap so fast. They want Krayzie to give a tutorial on how to rap so fast. What advice do you have for the people out there who are trying to rap like you?
I thought it was easy but I guess it's not if people are saying they can't do it. There is no way to tutor it; either you can do it or you can't. It's simple as that. If you can sing along to our songs, then you should try to write your own raps in the same pattern.
Another project you've had going on for quite a while now is the The Life apparel line. If you see a picture of Bone Thugs in Life gear, the jackets, hats, t-shirts are from your clothing line. Tell me about that; what direction are you going with that clothing line?
We've been doing that for about three years now. It's gonna be a merchandise company that I'm trying to recruit other artist to make their own merchandise. You know how you have merchandise companies that do merchandise for other people out on the road? I'm trying to take it there. On another level, I'm trying to branch out and do other things. I have more casual clothes, I'm trying to get into denim and the more casual shirts. I'm going to take it slowly and take it to the next level.
What sparked your desire to start this line?
Every artist that's been around a while knows that the merchandise is important. You want people, the fans, to feel like they're part of what you do. Having all that available just brings them in and makes them feel like they're closer to us. It's all good, you know? The fans are asking for it; they say we need Bone merchandise and we decided to start the company up to do our own thing without depending on a record label to get the merch people for us. We like doing it our own way.
Something that's really unique about this clothing line is the members of Bone Thugs wear it. I spent a couple days on tour with you guys and you were wearing it, and you would meet your fans and they would be wearing almost exactly the same thing. Do you think that's part of the appeal for the Bone Thugs fans and the people who are wearing the Life clothing?
Oh, yeah. When they see us wearing it, every time I do a video announcing a new shirt, they get crazy for it. Like right after we release a video. They want to wear what you're representing. Like I said that makes them feel like they're part of this whole Bone Thug movement. That's how you want your fans to feel – loved, like they love us.
You always took the time out to speak with fans even if it's in your dressing room. Other people might perceive it as being pushy and annoying, but y'all were really in there with the fans. It's interesting because new artists like to flaunt all their designer label stuff that their fans can't get. Why have you chosen to allow people to buy the same clothing you're wearing?
It's like you said. Artists don't understand what a fan is and does. The fans are really the reason your whole life changed. I don't understand how people make it because they were desperate for those fans at one point and when they get them, it's like you turn up your nose to them. It's like, man, do you realize that if these people stop supporting you you'll lose your house and car and everything? And it has happened to people – and quickly. Your fans made you, they have claim over you. People don't think about it like that. The fans feed your family. Why be rude to these people who have done nothing but help us our whole career?
Do you think your relationship with your fans explains your longevity in this career?
Yes, yes, yes. Definitely. For one, we've connected with our fans on an emotional level through the music. So when they finally met us, they see we're just dudes like everyone and that just solidifies it. We're the real deal, really down to earth.
So Krayzie, you said that music can transform the human condition and make you heal. How are you doing with that with your music?
Always putting a positive message out there to people. It's cool to have fun on a song, we talk about kickin it and stuff, but people like to hear stuff that they can relate to. When people go out to the club and they hear a club song on the radio, of course they are gonna like it because that's why they go to the club. People always want to hear songs that they can relate to, whether they're struggling or whatever. A lot of people have told me that they can relate to my music, and I feel the same thing sometimes like when I'm listening to Tupac. Music is real strong. If you laced it with the right message, give it the right feel, you can touch the ear of many people and makes you feel good. Music, when you hear a song, it reminds you of something, stirs up all kinds of emotion. That's people's connection with music.
You recently lost your mother to cancer. You said you wanted to utilize your platform for something greater because a lot of people are dealing with real issues out there and you can't ignore that. How are you addressing those real issues with your music?
Just making sure I talk about it and let people know that I know what's going on. I'm not oblivious to what's around me. I watch the news all the time, I stay in tune with what's going on and understand. I read the Bible and look at the news. And I think, oh man, how can people not think that the Bible is real? It's talking about everything that's going down right now. It makes me think about my purpose. I talk about it and I deal with it; I put it in my songs and in my music. Make people stop and think sometimes. That's what it's about for me; I'm more about getting the message out to people than having people call me the greatest of all time. I don't care about that as long as people get what I'm saying; that's when I feel proud.
How has losing your mother affected what you're doing?
Any close family member like your mother of father, when you lose them it's a crazy, unbelievable feeling. Like disbelief. Even when you know your mother's going to pass away, that's crazy too. When she's gone, you're stuck thinking, “my mother is really dead. That's my mother.” It always hits you hard whether you know beforehand or it's unexpected. It had a major effect on me but I really didn't let it bring me down. I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and I believe what the Bible has to say, that God is going to resurrect those that passed away, bring them back. I don't really let it weigh too hard on my heart because I have to move on. I'm still here. My brothers and sisters are still here, we have to move on together to keep the family strong and have hope that we will see her again.
You said success should never blind you from reality, it should empower you to empower others. What advice do you have for the artists out there, some of the bigger names that are being blinded from reality?
I would just say to them that it is what it is. This is not the real life that we live in. It's best to stay as grounded as possible because times are so crazy, everything you have can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye. If you're way up in the clouds, you're not going to be able to cope. When entertainers are on drugs and they start going through bad times, they die. The pressure and the stress, they can't handle it. Me, personally, I've always looked at fame for what it was. The fans like my music but as far as the fame goes, if I was nobody would they still want to be around me? Keep it real like that. It's all fake, it's all smoke and mirrors. When you take that away, you still have reality to deal with.
You and the other four members of Bone Thugs recently went to the press to talk about Eazy E’s legacy being tarnished because of his AIDS-related death. Is this something you addressed with Eazy before he died?
No. Actually, Eazy- his death came as a shock to us. We didn’t know that there was anything wrong. We knew that we hadn’t seen him for two or three weeks before we found out. We actually found out he had AIDS back home in Cleveland, and I saw on MTV news. I found out he was in the hospital and the next week, he was dead.
Did you have a chance to talk to him between the time you found out and the time he died?
No. No, we didn’t have a chance to talk to him at all.
Did he leave any last words for you specifically?
We were with him almost every day for almost a year, and then all of a sudden it was like, he was gone. It was crazy, we didn’t know what to expect. We had our first EP out, everything was going great, we were gradually getting bigger and it happened like BAM- out of the blue.
You’re gonna be performing with him at Coachella, y’all are going to be reunited. During the Snoop/Tupac performance I was assuming that it was pretty surreal for Snoop. How are you feeling about being on stage with Eazy?
It’s gonna be great. This is the first time I’ll have seen him in 20 years. It’s gonna be good to honor him.
Tell me about the last time you performed with Eazy.
The last time I performed with Eazy it was like our first big show. It was in Houston, and I remember it was a big show. There were like 50,000 people there. He was like “man, we have to go on stage in front of all of these people,” and this was before we even knew the response we had from people. But when we went on the place started erupting, and he was like, “Wow. They’re screaming for us like that?” It was crazy.
Do you think that he would have wanted to perform at Rock The Bell?
Oh yeah. Eazy loved performing. He definitely would have wanted to do this.
Is there any part of you that thinks that performing with Eazy’s hologram is going to be a little weird?
Yeah, it’s gonna feel kinda crazy, because I feel crazy looking at the one Snoop did. I think it’s a good thing, it’s just another way to keep artists in our memories and keep their legacy and presence alive.
Do you feel more pressure to do a good performance because he’s gonna be there?
No, not really. We always represent Eazy, no matter what we do. Every show we do, we do a tribute to him. It’s like our job, as long as we’re around, to let people know who he was and what he’s done for the industry. He made us who we are. He had the vision, he saw it in us, he gave us who we are. We owe it to him to inform people about him and let people know what he’s done for the industry.
Something I thought was interesting, you told us about Eazy’s legacy, and his death from a disease versus Tupac and Biggie getting shot. You definitely get a little more street cred if you get shot. What good do you think has come from Eazy’s death from AIDS? Do you think there was some awareness brought up?
Eazy’s death made it seem more real to people in the neighborhoods who said that AIDS won’t affect them. Before that, it was a gay disease. There was a lot of speculation about how you could catch it and everything. When Eazy caught it, there was an awareness. It shook a lot of people up. It definitely woke me up because it was really close to home.
You guys were on the road with a bunch of backstage females that are interested in that kind of activity. Did it change the way you guys acted around that situation?
Oh yeah, definitely. I was on high alert, way more cautious, because it was serious. I thought if it could happen to him, it could happen to anybody.
When I was in Seattle, Bizzy said something about making sure to get checked for HIV. Is that something that you started to do more after Eazy passed away?
I did it right away. I’ve had several HIV tests. When I was waiting for the results to come back, I was stressing like crazy. I was really relieved after seeing the results, and glad I did it.
I wanted to talk about Eazy E’s daughter and her plans to make a documentary on her father’s life. Has there been any talk about you being involved since we last spoke?
No, I haven’t heard anything about that. I’ve heard about the documentary, but nobody has reached out to us. I would definitely be interested in being involved; I don’t think that it would be complete without including his final contribution to the music industry – one of his final and biggest contributions.
Speaking of movies, Monster’s going to be in Kevin Hart’s new movie. Tell me what this means to you as a solo artist.
Kevin Hart’s obviously one of the biggest comedians out right now, very funny dude, very cool dude. When the opportunity came along, it’s crazy because I just put out an EP, The Quick Fix, and the song was supposed to go on the EP but when I played it for one of my business partners, he said, “take this song off the album, this song is so huge. This song has legs, you can do a lot with it. Could be sports anthems, could be a movie soundtrack. I gotta place for this song in Kevin Hart’s movie.” Kevin heard the song and he wanted to run with it.
So Kevin personally approved the song?
Oh yes, definitely.
Even though your song is going to be in the movie, can we expect a little appearance from you in the movie?
No, no, no. I wish I was in the movie, but no. I haven’t talked to him about that yet.
Do you see yourself doing a little acting in the future?
Oh yeah, definitely, definitely. I’ve been writing a whole lot of ideas for TV and movies. That’s something I want to get into.
Would you be more interested in the production side or the acting side?
A little bit of acting, but more production and directing. I like putting things together like that.
What kind of scripts have you written? Comedy, action, drama?
I wrote a western movie. I’m currently working on series about the music business and how crazy, evil, and wicked this business can be. I want to show how glamorous it looks on the outside, but when you get in it, it’s like you’re inside the belly of the beast. If you’ve seen the show Entourage, it like a group that rises from rags to riches but they have to deal with people coming in between them. I’m basing it off of my experience with Bone Thugs N-Harmony but it’s going to be a different group. It’s gonna show all the sheisty stuff that people don’t see. Everything that artists have to go through, like sheisty managers, record companies, the women, the fast life, how it affects people… How people start off being normal and get totally change. I think it’d be a really good TV show.
You mentioned the phrase the belly of the beast. Will that be the title of the series?
The working title that I have is The Life of a Rap Star, but the Belly of the Beast sounds good.
We’ll keep an eye out. Always good talking to you, Kray.
I’ll keep you posted!