Interview: Bone Thugs Together Again
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.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (Krayzie Bone) interviewed for Rip2Shredz // Hiphop.sh // Street Press Australia
10.15 AEST - 30th September, 2010
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, knwon 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.”