Last year, I had the honor of interviewing the legendary Bone Thugs-N-Harmony for their 20th Anniversary of being together. It was published in last year's issue of Goder Magazine and it got a lot of love. I posted a portion of the interview on the site last year, but I never got a chance to post the full interview. So without a further ado, here is the full interview the way it should have been presented...enjoy..
Bone Thugs N Harmony 20 Years Later:
Words by Aaron Busby
Twenty years ago five young men from Cleveland formed a rap group that will go down as one of the greatest rap cliques in hip-hop history. Their rapid-fire flow along with raps about the gangsta life, spirituality and living a life full of celebrating took hip-hop by storm. This year will mark twenty years since Krayzie Bone (Anthony Henderson), Layzie Bone (Steven Howse), Bizzy Bone (Bryon McCaine), Wi$h Bone (Charles Scruggs) and Flesh-N-Bone (Stanley Howse) formed the group we know as Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
Guided by Eazy-E, Bone Thugs came into the game as one of hip-hop’s most lyrical emcees. After they dropped their classic album E. 1999 Eternal, Bone Thugz certified themselves as one of the hottest emcees of the 90’s. They have collaborated with legendary artist such as 2Pac, Biggie, Mariah Carey and countless others. Bone Thugs took the hip-hop world by storm and it seemed like they would continue for a lifetime. However, when the 90’s came to a end, so did the flame that seemed to be keeping the group together as a whole.
For almost a decade the group had been having internal conflicts. There were rumors of arguments within the group as well as battles with their own personal demons. A lot of people thought that getting Bone Thugs back together as a group could not happen. However, twenty years later all five of the original members came together and are set to go on tour celebrating twenty years of their career as a group. They couldn’t be any happier to continue to do what they love...Its a celebration bitches!
Go Der Magazine: It’s been twenty years since you guys came together to form Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, How do you guys feel that twenty years later you still have a solid fan base and still have respect amongst your peers in Hip-Hop?
Krayzie Bone: "Aw man that’s a blessing. Not so many artist can say they've had a twenty year run, you know what I mean? So many artist come and go you know what I’m saying? Like some artist have a good run but then they go away and when they do go away, they go away for good. You know what I mean? You gotta get yourself a fan base; a SOLID core fan base and have people that will come out all over the world just to see you. We had no clue that the Bone movement would be so big and universal."
Layzie Bone: "Actually we’ve been together for thirty years. When it comes to rapping and recording and all that, that’s like twenty years. But all together if you count our younger years it’s about thirty years. It’s a dream come true when I look back and analyze all the things we’ve done. It’s a dream made into reality so it really warms my heart. We’ve been able to take care of our family by doing what we’re doing."
Flesh-N-Bone: "It feels amazing to have the gratitude and the ability to be humble with having a twenty year strong career and still have a solid fan base. It’s nice to have a fan base that’s there for you through thick and thin, ups and downs. Words can’t describe how I feel; It’s a warm feeling. We're very comfortable with it and we're able to take this type of experience and still grow in order to be here just watching where it goes; and have it be the sub-way into the next phase of our career. I’ll be looking forward to the 25th Anniversary. I’m looking forward to doing a interview with you on the 25th Anniversary of the group. It never gets old.."
Wi$h Bone: "It’s a blessing from God."
Bizzy Bone: "We're their Aerosmith, we're their Megadeth, we're their Guns N' Roses. We are just the mega group flat out. That’s what we are. We're their Beatles man."
Groups go through a lot of drama and because of that drama, a majority of them don’t last. You guys have had drama as well, however you guys managed to put all the bullshit aside and come back together fully. How did you guys manage to remain together twenty years later?
Krayzie: "Well first of all, what it all boils down to is the love and respect we have for each other and the love and respect we have for music. It was never really as serious as the public may think, you know what I mean? I tell people all the time we are like brothers. Real family has personal situations you know what I mean? Sometimes family will be separated for a long time or sometimes it would be a real short amount of time, that’s all it really is. We all decided that the love for the music and fans is what’s really important. So that’s why twenty years later, we are still together."
Wi$h: "To me; we all grown men, at the end of the day, we knew that we had to do this music. We came in this game together that’s basically how they wanna see us. They appreciated our solo attributes and things like that, but they love to see us together. At the end of the day, I think the media blows up a lot of the situations more then what they really are. We might have a small argument and they make it look like it’s life ending."
Layzie: "We’ve had a general love and respect for one another. We’ve fallen out like brothers fall out. When someone goes straying away, we gotta go and pull them back in. It’s the common love of music and we showed how we are really a true family."
Bizzy: "You can’t get away from your brother. On some “Where you going?!” type of shit. We are just watching what our kids are doing and what our kid’s kid’s kids are doing and shit. We are really a family, it’s a serious business."
Flesh: "I think we managed to stay together for this long by a whole lot of compromise. A lot of fans see us go through this and go through that. That might catch wind of bickering and arguments and differences amongst the group. But through out all that, we still managed to stay strong. One element that’s a factor with us is the fact that we are family and we grew up from the "roota to the toota". These guys are my life long comrades, period. They’ve been around since our moms and pops and we've just been long time friends. It’s a family business and it’s the reason why we have been around for so long. No matter what we go through. It don’t matter how hard the fall out is. That’s because everybody has them, we don’t like them, but things have to get addressed when it needs to get addressed. Call it a fall out, call it whatever you want to. But don’t say that we fall off. Bone Thugz-N-Harmony will NEVER fall off."
Of COURSE not!
Flesh: "When they ask, “What’s Bone Thugs-N-Harmony doing?” Oh, we taking care of our brand! I’m a BRAND! When you see Bone Thugz-N-Harmony, that’s a BRAND! We are talking about BIG business. When you see that symbol “Bone Thugs-N-Harmony” that’s like a refrigerator looking at Tony the Tiger on a Corn Flakes box. That’s how much of a household name we are. So when you got a family that can do something like that and create a brand that goes down in history, we have something to thrive on FOREVER!"
Flesh: "We aren’t going to be rapping forever, but it’s going to be a full fledge business that’s going to be around forever."
What’s y’all viewpoint on the music industry right now?
Krayzie Bone: "It’s definitely changed over the past twenty years. I’ve kept a careful eye on it. I’ve done some research and followed it since the beginning all the way up to now. People should expect it to change you know what I mean? Cause the world changes and people change. If things stayed the same then we would all still be here. Everything is evolving now and that’s a good thing. However, I don’t feel all the music that’s been playing on the radio. There are a lot of tired MC’s out there that just have no guidance and everybody wants to do what the next man is doing. Even more so these days…"
Wi$h: I love the music right now; I love staying up on the fresh stuff that’s out there. A lot of it seems like the artist don’t put enough thought into it. However, at the end of the day, it’s stuff to party too.
Layzie: Music hasn’t really changed much at all. We still have the same kind of music that you had back when I was a kid. You have your serious presentable music. You have the street music. You have the clowns out here watering it up and dumbing it down. As far as content and creativity I feel the content stayed in a growing place. As well as the Internet and the tools that come with the game. It’s out of here. It’s light years ahead of us; it’s on some Elroy Jetson type of shit. I think music is in a wonderful place right now.
Bizzy: It’s lively! Every 3 or 4 years the music industry does it’s functioning. Whose gonna let who through the reigns and reign supreme on the radio and videos and all that. It happens. We’re fortunate and blessed and we worked enough and showed work ethic to be in the position where we have a camp that goes through out the years. So when we watch these young cats get their money and they save it and they invest it into basketball teams, TV shows, etc. it’s just a beautiful thing. I sit back as a scholar of hip-hop and the fraternity of the hip-hop alma mater; And I love it. All my brothers love it as well. We are together now, so there is no reason to begin or even try to be bitter.
Flesh: I tip my hat to any youngster that feels he has something to offer to the world of art and musical creation. I tip my hat to them cause a lot of people don’t have courage to be able to step to the plate and take a swing at it. A lot of people say that can do this and they say they can do that, but they are not putting in the work to grow wings and fly. As far as the industry of today, I mean it’s ight…Because that’s NOT what I’m gonna do. I’m not gonna knock the new artist of today. Like what this dude is doing or what that dude is doing. Let them get their own creativity and create their own lane. As quiet as it’s kept they know what they're getting themselves into. They know how much work that needs to be put in; I don’t think they would want to get into it. Because this shit right here is 24/7 eat, sleep, shit, and piss.
I feel you on that completely!
Flesh: If your not willing to do it all; put in the hours, or are able to network with people, just get out the way. Just flat out. Now you do have those people that put in the work, that’s doing what it takes, and created a name and franchise for themselves. That’s because they work HARD to do it and they deserve it! So I tip my hat off to whoever made a name for them selves. God bless em..
Go Der: Out of all the albums you guys have done, within the group or within y’all solo catalogue, Which one personally do you feel the most proud of?
Krayzie: "I would most definitely say E. 1999 Eternal. There was some stuff that we wanted to get off our chest. We just did everything possible to get people to love us. We had so much to vent, and we just went in on it; you know what I mean? And the response for the public after they heard it was all love."
Flesh: "I’d have to say E. 1999 Eternal as well. That album produced our biggest hits, Crossroads, 1st of Da Month, and songs of that nature. Of course we’ve had other great albums as well, but personally I have to say E. 1999 Eternal because our biggest hit was Crossroads. To me that is a no brainer because that was the album that pushed us beyond mainstream."
Wi$h: "I really feel the most proud of the last one we did with Interscope Records, Strength & Loyalty because for one; they said it couldn’t be done unless all the members were present, and it turned out to be our most successful record. That was one of my happiest moments for me because they said it couldn’t be done and we did it. So I’m proud of that one."
Layzie: If I could choose one, I would have to say Creepin on ah Come Up. That was back then when we were at a point where we were either gonna make it or we weren’t. So we stuck true to our music and we stayed hungry and we did it. And Creepin on ah Come Up solidified everything.
Bizzy: "We set a really cool goal for the next five years. When you look back on it and your sober minded and so on and so forth you grow up and you start doing things the right way for yourself, it’s everything. Creepin on ah Come Up, and the one that was underground Face’s of Death. Everything played a magnificent role of the story and the saga of five brothers from Cleveland."
You guys have had history with Eazy E, God rest his soul. But if he was alive today, how would you think he would feel about you guys 20 years later?
Krayzie Bone: "If he were here right now, he would be exactly like how he was. He would want to travel with us, however I think he would probably get tired of the bullshit we were doing ya know? He would be like “What the hell are y’all doing?” He would tell us to get our shit together."
Wi$h: He’d be proud of us like a proud father, seeing that his decision to rock with us is still alive and staying relevant and vibrate out here, he would most definitely be proud.
Layzie: Right now he would be rooting for us. He would be proud of us getting back together and celebrating. I know he would be happy.
Bizzy: You never know what happens with people. Some people give it up and retire. Some people move on and get into Congress and all kinds of other stuff. We don’t know what Eazy, Pac, or B.I.G had in store for their lives before they left. This is real life and people are here one minute and gone the next. And Eazy left a great legacy and a great history in hip-hop, and that’s whom he is. Beyond a disease or anything else that he truly had. But to answer the question, I don’t know what he would be doing right now, I really don’t know. Hopefully he would still be working with Bones.
Flesh: I think he would be somewhere between, two or three skyscrapers right now 123 feet from the floor looking out over the scene. I think he would be talking about “What’s the next move? How many more buildings are we going to build? What type of franchises will we have to create? You know what I mean?
He would have cut off that perm he had and look like a business man *laughs*
Flesh: Exactly, he would have been something more then what he was back then I can tell you that much. If he were here right now, he would be more in a direction of building more things and expanding.
You guys have worked with countless artist through out the years. From Biggie, to Pac, to Mariah Carey the list can go on and on. Recently you guys jumped on Game’s Celebration remix. Is there any artist out there right now that you would want to work with?
Wi$h: I always wanted to do something with Jay-Z, his wifey Beyonce, you know people like that. The list can go on and on. There are a few records right now that we wanna touch on with an artist with legendary status.
Layzie: I love to work with greatness; I want to work with T.I., Kanye, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, and that whole camp. Everybody that is really doing it. When we find where the good music is, we most definitely want to get it in with them. Who ever wanna work with Bone, we can do any style of any genre.
Flesh: There are definitely quite a few people that we wanna jump in the booth with. Jay-Z being one of them, maybe 50 Cent, Eminem you know what I’m saying? Imagine that, an Eminem and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony record. The possibilities is endless…
Bizzy: I wanna work with everybody! If it’s with my five brothers, nothing’s better then that. We got some real good stuff going on right now, we don’t wanna let the cat out the bag just yet, but when Bone Thugs hits y’all with this beautiful stuff we got going on with a few of these young guys that we are grooming; it’s going to be a monumental event!
Krayzie: Well I mean we about to do this 20-year Anniversary situation and we looking to get anybody we can to come out and celebrate with us. They can be old or new it doesn’t matter, it will be a big party. So you will definitely hear some stuff with all kinds of cats out there right now.
On a personal note, I find it crazy that some kids now a days do NOT know that you guys did 1st of the Month. They believe that you guys sampled Game and you guys are some biters. It just BLOWS my mind!
Krazie: *laughs* "That’s crazy!
Layzie: Wow! Well that just means that they got a lot of homework to do. They're gonna read this interview and they will be surprised that they don’t know that. They got a lot of homework to do; there is a lot of history with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. They gotta do their research to compile all the facts and then it’s like “Ohhh that’s where that came from!” Then you gotta see where we got 1st of The Month from. That song was a sample from an Anita Baker and Marvin Gaye record. So yeah it comes as a surprise and it was meant to happen to make our fan base quite larger."
With the amount of individual success each of you have had, What can we expect from Bone Thugs on this new album?
Krayzie Bone: Well first of all we gotta give them that original sound that our core fans are going to want to hear. We just gotta talk about celebrating life, being happy, being alive, and just a more relaxed album you know what I mean? We are not going to be be so much mad and angry like on the previous albums. This album is going to be more of a celebration. A much more positive album.
Looking back at your career over the past twenty years, would you have done anything differently?
Wi$h: We probably would have done business differently but other then that; Every thing happens for a reason.
Bizzy: We could have saved $20 here and $20 there. Stashed a bag of weed here, stashed a bag of weed there. Keep some records here, make a deal there. All is said, but what matters is that we are here now. We are at this photo shoot and we are enjoying life. Naw I wouldn’t change not one thing.
You guys get a lot of love out here in the West Coast and The Bay. So tell us about your Cleveland and Cali connection.
Krayzie Bone: We’ve been out in Cali for a long time. For over 20 years. It’s just like home; it’s like a second home for us. Everybody is good to us down here, that bond with us will never end.
Layzie: We’ve been doing this for twenty years and Cali almost feels like our first home. I see Kid Cudi out here; I see all these young cats out here really doing their thing man. You gotta at one point in your career, if you’re a Cleveland rapper, get out to California and spread your wings.
Y’all got any shout outs?
Wi$h: My family, my babies. Much love to the Bone fans who have stuck with us through out the years.
Layzie: I wanna shout out anybody that helped keep Bone alive, and the ones that appreciated our music. Shout out to my wife and Cleavland in general. Just shout out to everybody man we in a celebration mode right now. There is all love spreading around Bone Thugz-N-Harmony.
Bizzy: Much love to you guys at Go Der, and being a part at what we are doing. And giving us the opportunity to speak to the people, and show that we are not drugged up and we sobered up and we not fucked up and not bitter in the game or stuck up. So I would like to thank God, and thank every one else.
Flesh: Shout out to my group Ducttape gang, their single is on iTunes right now, make sure you get that. They are some young talented individuals and I am real proud of the things that they got going right now. And of course the fans that supported Bone Thugs for the past twenty years. I look forward to showing y’all what we got in store for you guys. We working full time!
Krayzie Bone: Man what up to everybody in the Bay. We always gets love out there no matter how many times we go out there. Gotta have a shout out to the fans. We gotta thank them for being down with us for so long and we ain’t done we got more to say.