Four years ago, Bone Crusher scored a monstrous hit with “Never Scared,” off his gold-selling debut, AttenCHUN! (So So Def/Artista). Unfortunately, his success was short-lived. The former 400-pound Atlanta giant never received a follow-up single and the hype surrounding his album slowly died down. Two years later, Jermaine Dupri took So So Def over to Virgin Records after he was appointed the company’s Executive Vice President of Urban Music. As a result, Crusher was transferred from So So Def to another Zomba Music Group affiliate, Jive Records. After sitting in limbo at Jive for a year, the portly MC was eventually released and signed with boxer Roy Jones Jr.’s record label, Body Head Entertainment, in 2006. The partnership resulted in Crusher’s sophomore disc, Release the Beast, which failed to produce a hit or duplicate his previous success. Now, after appearing on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club, the heavyweight MC has formed his own label, Vainglorious Entertainment, and is returning this July with a new album entitled, Free. But unlike his previous efforts, Free is an eclectic mix of rock and funk, which is a drastic change from the crunk sound he helped popularize. XXLMag.com talks with Bone Crusher about his new musical direction, the future of crunk and his relationship with Jermaine Dupri.
What direction are you going in with your new album, Free?
It’s completely different. It’s not about crunk anymore. I brought this new thing to the table [like] Cee-Lo, [who] is the originator of bringing the original stuff. I’m more [into music] like, Alexander O’Neal, S.O.S. Band, Frankie Beverly and Maze—music that brought fantastic times. It’s called “free” music. I just got off Jive Records and I had some changes to do in life. I sat and thought about the things I used to do when I felt good about music. I’m one of the guys who originated the style of music India.Arie is doing. When you hear the album, you’ll see what kinda vibe I’m on. This [album] is a hybrid—it’s more of a new wave, retro, soulful, live feel.
Are you concerned about losing some of your fan base with such a drastic change?
I think I’ll pick up my fans and some extras. My voice is still big. It’s a fantastic groove. My homeboy in L.A. was telling me, “These people don’t even know Cee-Lo was in Goodie Mob. It doesn’t matter. Cee-Lo is at three or four million sold. You think Cee-Lo cares?” So we gotta stop being afraid. Once we become as progressive as we are in our head, the music will grow. We’re too busy beefin’ about stupid stuff and not progressing.
So you’re not working with Lil’ Jon anymore?
Jon and me are still people. Jon is trying to be free, too. He wants to do his rock stuff. Everybody who has a love for music is trying to do something free and fresh. We don’t wanna be like the disco era. We want it to happen forever. People don’t understand Sam Goody and Tower Records just closed down. These [places] are pivotal in what we have to do to get this music to grow or we all gonna be working at McDonald’s or someplace we don’t wanna work. This is a culture. If it dies, we die.
Is crunk dead, then?
I don’t do crunk no more. It’s kinda dead to me. I think it’s time for something else. Something that makes people go, hmmm, just like crunk did. A lot of people say I made that happen with “Never Scared.” I got a lot of money for that, too.
Do you hold any grudges against Jermaine Dupri for dropping you from So So Def Records?
Jermaine and me are cool. I have no problems with anybody Black. I have no hate in any shape, form or fashion with anyone. I have no time to beef with anyone. I can’t beef with nobody. Business is business; it’s not personal. I have no problem with JD or L.A. Reid [former CEO of Arista]. It’s all about growing and being stronger as a person. All that beef like 50 [Cent] do—whatever. Look, ain’t none of us got no skyscrapers or grocery stores. There should be a Puffy chain of grocery stores and Russell Simmons skyscrapers. Until we get ahead, we have no place to diss. You ain’t never heard me diss nobody. How can I diss you and we in the same shithole? I’m watching the Hispanic community and how they work hard, opening grocery stores and banks in Atlanta. They are doing their own thing. They out here thriving. We too busy beefing about stupid stuff and not progressing.
Word is you chose not to curse on this new album. Is that because of all the Don Imus controversy and the backlash on hip-hop?
I think it’s time for a change. I think people are tired of the same ol’ stuff. I don’t think it’s necessary [to use] cusswords. You can only say “shit” and “fuck” so many times and make it colorful. On my new album there is no cussin’. S.O.S. Band had no cussin’ in their music. Hall and Oats and Michael Jackson had no cussin’, it sounds good and moves mountains. Everybody shouldn’t rap. Everybody shouldn’t make beats. Just because you can afford the equipment, doesn’t mean you should do it. There are other ways to make money in this business besides trying to be the star. There’s promotion, writing, office management, all kinds of stuff you can do behind the camera.
Being that you had a successful first record with “Never Scared” but are now independent. Do you have any advice for this new crop of rappers with big singles?
These guys get these one hit records, but you gotta realize one record is just one record. You’re not a star when you only got one record. That won’t mean you’ll continue to eat. We’re dead in the water. People only buy singles and ringtones [now]. We gotta make sure this music lasts forever, dawg. I want to have my kids eating like Phil Collins. I want to eat forever, dawg. I want my publishing so valuable [that] I’ll be able to eat for a 100 years, if I could.