FEATURE: Krayzie Bone, The Originator
When it comes to hip-hop trendsetters Bone Thugs-N-Harmony have never gotten the respect they deserve. Back in 1994 when rap was still rugged and raw the Cleveland Ohio quintet (Yes, Flesh-n-Bone is an official member) emerged with a gang full of melody and double time flows bringing some much-needed rhythm to hip-hop’s dark and drab soundscape. And despite selling over 16 million records and winning a Grammy for their 1996 smash "Tha Crossroads,” Bone never quite got their just due. Funny how it was a nod from the Notorious B.I.G., when he mimicked Bone’s double-timed, multi-syllabic style on “Notorious Thugs,” which set things off. Yeah Hov claimed to be the originator, but even his verse on 1998’s “Nigga What, Nigga Who” was more Bone than Jaz-O. Still, a series of internal beefs kept Bone Thugs from fulfilling their destiny.
Fortunately for Krayzie Bone, he was able to carve a lane for himself outside of the group, be it on his gold-selling solo debut Thug Mentality 1999 or his scene-stealing verse on Chamillionaire’s 2007 hit “Ridin’.” The fact of the matter is that despite Bone Thug’s on again, off again status, Krayzie has remained busy as evident by his latest release on RBC Records The Fixtape Vol.2: Just One Mo’ Hit. Now, with a long-awaited Bone Thugs-N-Harmony reunion on the horizon thanks to a new deal with Warner Bros., Krayzie sat with XXLMag.com to set the record straight. – Rob Markman
XXLMag.com: In 2008, you dropped your very first mixtape The Fixtape Vol.1: Smoke On This, what made you decide to take it to the streets like that?
Krayzie Bone: It was basically the first mixtape that I ever done. I was always thinking about doing one in between these albums to keep some music out there. I got songs for days so I might as well put ‘em over some of these other beats and just get ‘em out. When I went in I was just listening to other tracks. I was like “Man I wonder what I would sound like on those beats.” I grabbed a few instrumentals and I got to writing, man. It came out real good, I got nothing but positive responses from the first one and everybody was asking “When are you gonna do another one?” I really put it out with no intentions of doing another one.
XXL: But hear you are with The Fixtape Vol.2. You’ve had multi-platinum records already, so what keeps you motivated now?
Krayzie: Honestly it was just the love for the music. I do a lot of music that just don’t get the chance to come out because of all the politics that goes on in the music business. It's like a lot of labels take the fun out of the music game with all the politics and not letting you be you. This is a way that I can still get my music out and do what I wanna do on these mixtapes. I ain’t got to clear it with nobody; no labels and I can put out what I wanna put out. I like doing that, that’s why I came with another one. I don’t want to stop making music because the record company says so. This is what I do 24/7.
XXL: So it’s the industry that’s holding you back?
Krayzie: Basically it’s because I haven’t got with the right label that really understands the music. The reason why [my] first solo album did so well was because we were with a label that worked with Bone, so they understood Bone’s music. They understood how to market it and how to make it move. But when Relativity shut down and I did my second solo album with Loud, Steve Rifkind was just used to marketing and putting out East Coast artists. He told me his self that he didn’t really know. I asked him what was his favorite Bone song and he said “Crossroads.” I was like, “Ehh.” That’s our signature hit, so everybody is gonna know that song. That’s how I knew that he didn’t really know and he basically told me his self literally. He was like, “I basically dropped the ball. I just didn’t know how to promote your music.”
XXL: What can fans expect from the new mixtape?
Krayzie: I have other people’s instrumentals and I have some original tracks on there. This one is basically the same as the first. You know Bone Thugs-N-Harmony we just signed to Warner Bros. So that’s where the reunion album is coming out on and I may be messing with them for my solo album as well. My next solo album that I’m trying to drop called Chasing the Devil.
XXL: Chasing the Devil huh? Sounds deep.
Krayzie: The concept of this album is basically telling people, like everybody wants to be famous now. People want to be famous; they wanna go for the gusto. Basically what I’m saying is that when we are out here chasing this money and chasing these women and these big dreams. It’s not wrong to do so, but people go through a lot of unnecessary things chasing these things. The devil has these things on the string and they are stringing us along, and when we think we’re getting a little bit closer then he yanks the string a little bit more.
XXL: Is that why Bone had so many problems internally?
Krayzie: Oh yeah. I would say the money and fame has affected our friendship. If you would’ve known us before we made it and if you knew us now, you’d be like, “Man.” That’s one thing Eazy-E liked about us, he’d say “One thing I like about ya’ll is that if one gets up and moves and goes to the bathroom, the other four go stand outside the door.” We were all we had in California; we ain’t know nobody out there. Eazy would be like, “If I would’ve been like that with N.W.A, we’d still be together.” But money and fame changes everything and that is absolutely, positively true. Niggas get money, coming from not having nothing, it’s instantly like a rush to the brain.
XXL: So what’s the state of the group now?
Krayzie: The vibe with Bone Thugs now is great. I think everybody realizes what this is and where it all started and what we have to do if we’re serious about making music. We all have grown, we all have matured. We understand what it takes to do business and be businessmen. Coming from where we’re from, we didn’t have no one to guide us in those areas and teach us to do business. We had the talent, the talent is no mystery, but if we would’ve have the business tactics to match the music we would’ve been unstoppable. But we are just that group that has been blessed with longevity and we have a chance to still fulfill that goal.
XXL: Even Bizzy? He’s good? You sure? Because it got rough there for a second.
Krayzie: Yeah everything with Bizzy is good. He’s real excited; I actually just spoke to him yesterday. He was telling me he was real excited to do the album. We’re gonna make sure this album is 100% for real.