Bone Thugs-n-Harmony have been in hip-hop for 20 years. Since the release of their breakthrough EP, Creepin On Ah Come Up—which features the fantastic single "Thuggish Ruggish Bone"— —the Cleveland group consisting of rappers Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone and Flesh-N-Bone amassed a plethora of hits throughout their career. The group is gearing up to put out their last album, E.1999 Legends, which is going to be a DJ U-Neek-produced double-disc project; the first disc will be only Bone Thugs-N-Harmony records with no features, while the second disc will feature a ton of big-name guest appearances such as Mariah Carey, Phil Collins, Wiz Khalifa, Drake, A$AP Mob, Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre and possibly Mary J. Blige.

Last week, after Bone's excellent show at SOBs in New York City, Krayzie Bone stopped by the XXL offices and shared the stories behind his five favorite Bone Thugs records, spilling stories about working with Tupac, Biggie and Phil Collins along the way. —Emmanuel C.M.


“1st Of Tha Month”

Krayzie Bone: You never heard anybody come out talking about what it feels like to get welfare. That was something we experienced back in the day. It was real. When the 1st came around, it was a chance for us to get some money and come up.

The memory I have about this song is the FBI coming to Ruthless Records. We had these flyers that looked like food stamps and some people from the FBI actually came with one of the flyers and told us, "Y’all need to stop putting these out." We were like, "It’s a flyer, you think someone is going to be using this?” And they said, "No, but y’all need to quit putting these out or there’s going to be a problem." It was crazy—just for a flyer with a picture of a food stamp. We were just keeping it real. We grew up in Cleveland. It’s hard to make it from there. So back then, welfare was a celebration for us. It was time to kick it, eat some good food and do what we did in the hood.



Krayzie Bone: That’s the song that took us to the next level. It took us over the top as a hip-hop group. That song speaks for itself. First of all, we didn’t make the song trying to make a hit. After we got signed to E1 Music, our people had started dying. So like, my cousin was murdered, I lost my brother-in-law. Layzie lost one of his sons and Eazy-E had passed away. After we made it, all of our people started dying. It was just a real experience for us and we just went to the studio and wanted to make a song for those cats. It ended up being one of our biggest records.


“Home” featuring Phil Collins

Krayzie Bone: Nobody thought we would ever get that cleared. Phil Collins has never done anything with a rapper; still to this day [he hasn't]. When he heard the song and he cleared it, he told us, “The reason I cleared the song was this is one of my favorite songs, and if y’all chose to remake this song y’all must have great taste in music. This is why I cleared it.”

We got in to do the song and the record company was like, "We want this as a single.” We thought, we ain’t getting no single, we’re not getting him in no video. Then he hit us back and was like, "The only way I’ll do a video is if y’all come to Switzerland." We were like, "Bro, we’re there." It’s crazy because a lot of those things caught in the video were by mistake. It was something below zero. It's this cold. We were out there bundled up, and Phil comes out in a little trench coat and a scarf. He’s just used to it. But all the scenes we caught were by accident. We shooting on the street and this parade—if you watch the video, we happened to catch a parade when we started filming and it looked like it was supposed to be part of our video.


“Notorious Thugs” with The Notorious B.I.G.

Krayzie Bone: Big was the one who got us into the New York market. To hear what he did on that, it was just amazing. We went into the studio and Biggie had bags of weed and bottles of Hennessy and he just sat there and watched us. The whole time he sat there and watched us. Then when we were finished he said, “Yo Puff, close the session down, I’m taking this thing home and writing to it.” He was like, I got to study this. We actually didn’t hear his verse until after he had passed and the album came out. But that night we just had a good time. The whole Junior Mafia was in the studio. We have pictures, everybody came through; Lil Kim came through, Lil Cease was there, Puff, it was crazy. Even Craig Mack came through; it was epic in there that night.


“Thug Luv” featuring Tupac

Krayzie Bone: We were always fans of Tupac when he had the 2Pacalypse Now album. We were fans of him from, like, Juice, so it was cool to run with him and Big. Those two records stand all the way out for us. It's crazy because everybody was thinking Tupac and Bones should do something, because [we were] the only people out here screaming “thug.” People didn’t know it was beef with us and 'Pac at first, because 'Pac had—when The Box was on TV—he went on there and said something like, "Who’s these thuggish-ruggish-bones dudes, anyway? We lay down the bricks to this Thug stuff." So we were like, okay, when we see him it's on, it's going down.

He actually came to Cleveland, and this is when he had just come out of jail and Dr. Dre was just leaving [Death Row], and they did a big Death Row tour. 'Pac came to Cleveland and came on the radio and said, "I want to see these thugs. They Thugs, we Thugs, we need to hook up and talk some business." We didn’t meet him until California and he was staying in the hotel we were in. We were walking in and he was walking out and we thought it was going to be a drama. But he’s like, "What’s up with y’all? Y’all song 'Crossroads,' every morning I woke up in my cellblock, I played that song. Not the remix, the original version." Ever since then we were cool. We said we need to get the studio until finally one day, him and Bizzy finally got into the lab and laid down “Thug Luv.”