Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Address Current Controversies
The Cleveland crew also discussed with DX the fan-influenced song selection process for their forthcoming reunion release as a quintet, Uni-5 (tentatively due May 4th), the more mature direction of the harmonizing tongue twisters ninth studio album, and the impact “Bone’s emancipator” Eazy-E continues to have on his protégés 15 years after the west coast Rap architect’s premature passing.
The Midwest pioneers of melodic sung-raps additionally spoke about their enumerable emulators, including one very notable native from their hometown who has yet to pay homage to his stylistic forefathers.
HipHopDX: Let’s get to the most important question I have for y’all right off top, and that’s…is “Gangsta’s Glory” really cut from the final track list Say it ain’t so, y’all.
Layzie Bone: I don’t know, man. I mean, we did like over a hundred songs [for Uni-5: The World's Enemy], man, and for publishing reasons all we could release was 12 songs, so… It’ll eventually make its way out there somehow, but I’m not even – [Asks the other group members] Did it make the album? “Gangsta’s Glory”…
Krayzie Bone: I don’t know.
Flesh-N-Bone: At this point, we not too sure right now [which songs made the final track list for the album]. And like Lay said, man, we got so many songs, and the final 12 that did make the cut…I don’t even have any recollection of [which songs those were] right now [because] I done been so busy. But you know, every song that we cut, all of ‘em is like on that radio-friendly [sound and] got that hot-concept vibe to [them]. [But], everybody did pick some of they favorites [to make the final track list].
DX: Is there gonna be like a Special Delivery Volume 2, or maybe even Volume 3, to get all these new songs y’all recorded formally out to the people?
Krayzie Bone: Definitely, definitely. We definitely gonna do something like a Special Delivery Volume 2… That’s the goal. Special Delivery is the Bone Thugs [edition of my Fixtape series]. That’s our [group] edition of the mixtape. So it definitely will be a Volume 2 with some of the songs that you didn’t [get on Uni-5], that didn’t make the album.
DX: So I mean, I guess I just need to ask, how much of this final album tracklist was Warner Brothers’ input and how much were the Think Tank listening and feedback sessions held for fans to credit?
Layzie Bone: I mean it was basically… At the end of the day it all came down to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and what we wanted to do. Like, Warner Brothers and Think Tank they really…they couldn’t decide on…they didn’t have no input on deciding on which songs we picked [to make the final tracklist], which is a… It was all on Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. So Think Tank, a couple of songs at the Think Tank that the people was feeling we kept - some we didn’t, some we went and recorded brand new material even after we did all [five of] the Think Tank’s and all that. So, it was basically a Bone Thugs call.
DX: But y’all [did] let your supporters into this album making process in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other group do before – via UStream, Facebook, BTNHBoard. Why did y’all decide to give the fans so much input, and do y’all regret that decision at all in hindsight?
Flesh-N-Bone: Not really, man. You know, it [can go] half and half on that. But you dealing with a new industry right now, you got new media, and we conforming [to that] in every way possible. Traditional [marketing and promotion], we still got all that on lock as well, but we still getting our wings [with online social networking and getting] used to this, what’s going on on the Internet, period. So, we trying to tap into all those sources, man. If we had to give away a little bit of music to try to reach the fans, or create some type of buzz, we just try to be as active as possible [with] what’s going [on] out there [with] this new media situation.
DX: Now from what I’ve heard of the album so far this has got to be like the most uplifting album y’all have recorded to date, with songs like “See Me Shine” , “My Life” and others. Is Bone officially on its grown-man shit?
Wish Bone: Oh yeah.
Layzie Bone: Officially on the grown-man. But every now and again though we might talk about bussin’ some heads or something, you know. It depends on what day it is, and how we feel…and who done acted up. That’s a element you’ll never be able to break away from, is that street, that gangsta, thug [element], whatever you wanna call it. But we definitely on some mature, grown-man shit [for Uni-5].
DX: Speaking of the aging process, I gotta thank Krayzie for making somebody like myself, who’s only a few years younger, feel old as shit by referring to himself as the “granddaddy” of the Bone flow on “Rebirth” [Laughs]
Krayzie Bone: [Laughs]
DX: So y’all really believe what y’all was saying on that joint, about there being a bunch of Bone clones in 2010?
Layzie Bone: [Chuckles]
Wish Bone: I mean, what we brung to the game has been touched on a whole lot by not just rappers but R&B artists [as well]. And we just wanna be recognized for what we did contribute to music and the whole thing.
Layzie Bone: Like cut on the radio right now and there be a clone on there, there’ll be a Bone clone on there. But you know, [“Rebirth”], that’s just taking it to a clowning level though. But, man, it’s been a lot of people that emulated Bone’s flavor and our style, [and] implemented a little bit of element of Bone Thugs in they own little twist. And for the most part, it’s a flattery thing, man, and we clown ‘em a little bit [on “Rebirth”] but we respect what they trying to do.
DX: And we ain’t naming names? We ain’t naming names?
Krayzie Bone: Maaan, it’s just a lot of ‘em. It’s a lot of ‘em.
Layzie Bone: All you gotta do is turn the radio on. Just say all of ‘em…flat out. We ain’t gotta name no names. But if you on the radio you know you doing some type of element of Bone Thugs, whether it’s you trying to sing with the rap, or you flipping the flow. Every time I turn the radio on it’s somebody [influenced by Bone].
DX: I guess I’ll just ask, [since] he’s from the ‘Land too, what y’all think about somebody like Kid Cudi who’s sorta doing that: the more melodic element into the vocals, singing and rapping sorta combined?
Krayzie Bone: Kid Cudi hasn’t even admitted that we influenced him, that we was a big influence on him as well as other artists. So like, I mean that basically speaks for itself when he says that.
DX: Now I wanna sneak in one more nitpicking fan question: I just gotta ask, ‘cause I heard those snippets like a few months back, why’d y’all scrap the more dramatic stadium sound of the original “Meet Me In The Sky” for the somewhat more mellow video version?
Layzie Bone: Well you know what, that was the version that got out…and um…
Krayzie Bone: [Inaudible] it wasn’t mixed.
Layzie Bone: And that version wasn’t mixed…[but] we went back to the original one on there. So, on the album you can expect to have that first sounding one.
DX: Both versions of “Meet Me In The Sky” are on par with y’alls classic lost loved ones tribute “Crossroads.” So I just wanted to get any thoughts y’all have to share with our readers a couple weeks removed from the 15th anniversary of the passing of “Bone’s emancipator”?
Layzie Bone: I mean, man, we just always give up love and pay homage to the man that put us in the game. We always show love to [Eazy] E. We show love to the west coast, and show love to Compton. And, show love to Ruthless Records, period. Because without him we wouldn’t be in this game at all, like I don’t think it was another man that coulda dealt with us as wild as we was back then but a gangsta like Eazy E. So, like I said [on “Meet Me In The Sky”], he is our emancipator, man. He gave us our lives, our running shoes, and we been moving ever since [and] so our hats is always off to E.
DX: Talk about another dude that don’t get his just due. I mean he set off the whole west. I mean Ice-T was already there, but no Eazy-E, man, the west coast wouldn’t exist basically.
Layzie Bone: Yeah I mean if it wasn’t no E, man, it wouldn’t hardly be none of us here. Like Ice-T, like you said, he was doing his thing, but E was the man. Everybody – It wouldn’t be no [Ice] Cube, no [Dr.] Dre, no Snoop [Dogg], no Bone, no uh…DJ Quik, no uh…Eminem…
Wish Bone: 50.
Layzie Bone: No 50 Cent. So, we all gotta just…I feel like we should pay more homage to Eazy-E as being that dude – he was a visionary, man.
DX: Speaking of that homage, we gonna get a CD quality version of that “Eazy-E” song y’all recorded for the new album?
Wish Bone: You talking about the tribute, right?
DX: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was just like titled “Eazy-E.”
Layzie Bone: Right.
Krayzie Bone: Definitely. Yeah, it’s definitely gonna come out on a CD.
DX: Okay, cool, cool. Now, you know before we wrap this quick conversation up I gotta get into a couple of questions about the in-the-news stuff. So I need to talk to Flesh… I just gotta ask, man, they waited damn-near 12 years to come after you for some bullshit domestic case?
Flesh-N-Bone: Well yeah, that’s exactly what it is, bullshit, some falsified, fabricated, whatever it is. I don’t even remember the situation. It’s just something that was buried away, because even California [where I was incarcerated from 2000-2008] didn’t know it was on the radar. It was off the radar until somebody found out I was coming to Cleveland [for our show at the House of Blues on March 28th], and then they went and dug it up out the bottom of the barrel. Because like I [said], California’s system did several checks to see if I had nationwide warrants and I didn’t have – When I was released from prison [in July 2008] I didn’t have warrants, until I went to Cleveland [last week]. So, it’s something that hopefully – It’s just a little ‘nother little bump in the road. It’s nothing. We go through these trials and tribulations. But it’s nothing for us. And it’s nothing to me. It was just another ordeal to have to go through and get cleaned up at the same time so [that] we can keep moving on with this movement.
DX: And just officially for the record – I can’t believe I even gotta ask this question, but officially for the record, you didn’t really pistol-whip ya own mama?
Flesh-N-Bone: God forbid that. Like I say mayne, I’m sitting here right now [a free man]. If this thing was as serious as they said I wouldn’t be sitting here on this phone with you right now.
DX: Is your mom alright? I read when they arrested you during the show it damn-near gave her a heart attack.
Flesh-N-Bone: Yeah, mayne. When I got out of prison in 2008 my mama lived with me for a whole God damn year. Feel what I’m saying? She stayed with me for a year. She was there to pick me up from prison, so what the fuck these people talking about something that happened 12 years ago? The shit didn’t happen.
DX: Alright that brings us to the last question, and I think y’all can guess what it’s about [Laughs.] The second in-the-news question is obviously about Bizzy: Once and for all, did y’all kick him off the tour or did he bounce on his own?
Wish Bone: He never began the tour first and foremost. He never started the tour with us. He chose not to participate before it started.
DX: And that was for monetary reasons?
Wish Bone: Yeah I mean, it’s a promotional tour [that we’re on right now]. We know what it takes to lift the project up and get it going, but in Bizzy [Bone]’s mind, at some point in time, in all ways he has to be compensated more than anyone else. So, we just gotta keep it moving.
DX: So I mean are y’all gonna still do any type of performances together or…
Wish Bone: I mean, he comes in and out when he feel like it. He shows up [sometimes].
Krayzie Bone: We actually have a big show coming up in L.A. April 16th and he’s supposed to be performing with us. So, it’s gonna be shows here and there. You might see him pop up on - Well, as far as [this] tour, man…you never know, you may see him on some of these dates as well. So, you never know.
DX: So can we say that Bone is officially still "Uni5"?
Krayzie Bone: Oh yeah.
Layzie Bone: Yeah, I mean you can basically – You can say that all the time Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Bizzy will always be a part of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, he just got his different issues. And I feel like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is a revolving door, we all go through our different issues but we all still will be there for each other in real brotherhood. Even more than over the music we care about his well-being, so that’s what that is. He may come in, he may get on our nerves, and then he might do something stupid and then come in and then go right back out, but it’s always a work in progress.
Here is the tracklisting to Uni5: The World's Enemy by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony:
1. The Law (Intro)
2. Rebirth (feat. Thin C)
3. See Me Shine (feat. Jay Rush)
4. Only God Can Judge Me
5. Wanna Be
6. My Life
8. Fearless (Interlude)
9. Gone (feat. Ricco Barrino)
10. Meet Me In The Sky (feat. K-Young)
12. A New Mind = A New Life (Interlude)
13. Pay What They Owe
14. Facts Don't Lie
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