Bone thugs-n-harmony made three major announcements yesterday. One, They are prepping their final world tour as a five-man tour de force. Two, the group’s final world tour will coincide with the release of the final, all five-member Bone thugs-n-harmony album. And three, there will only be one copy of that final, all five-member Bone thugs-n-harmony album created…and it will cost at least $1 million. Maybe that’s four announcements.
Nevertheless, if the sound of a million dollar Hip Hop album doesn’t raise eyebrows as high as it used to, it’s because the “St. Claire thugstas” were inspired by Wu-Tang Clan’s plan to restore value to the art of the Rap album by releasing the one-of-one, never-before-heard Wu—Once Upon A Time In Shaolin to the highest bidder. Forbes’ Zack O’Malley Greenburg even trekked to Marrakesh, Morocco to snag a peek at the gold and diamond-encrusted Wu project Cilvaringz compiled. There are very few groups on the planet that can mobilize their fan bases to the tune of a million dollar bidding war. Krayzie, Layzie, Bizzy, Wish, and Flesh are not only betting that they are one of those groups, they’re staking the closing chapter of their legacy on that gamble.
“When I heard about what [Wu-Tang Clan] was doing—and I think it was you who told me about it—I just thought it was a brilliant and genius idea,” Krayzie Bone explained to HipHopDX in this exclusive conversation. “We talked about it for a while then we were coming up on this world tour. We said, ‘We need to do everything simultaneously. The idea for that is to make it the final group project. What better way to go out and to solidify the [Bone thugs-n-harmony] brand. I don’t see no other way. It has to be big. We have to make sure we reach everybody. So I think doing it like this will be huge, especially for our last group album.”
Also in this conversation, Krayzie reveals the title Bone’s final release, the reaction received from fans and Mo Thugs Family worldwide, guest appearances to be included, and a hint of conceptual direction for this million dollar trek on the way to the Crossroads. And because this is Krayzie Bone and Krayzie Bone is from Cleveland, Ohio and Cleveland is the city where a hitta come from so run right, the entertainment industry mogul shares what it means for Lebron James to return to the Cavaliers.
Krayzie Bone Says $1 Million Album Idea Sparked By Wu-Tang Clan
HipHopDX: What’s the origin of the idea to present Bone’s final album in this way?
Krayzie Bone: When I heard about what [Wu-Tang Clan] was doing—and I think it was you who told me about it—I just thought it was a brilliant and genius idea. I thought to myself, “It’s not that many groups that can do something like this and have major results from it—Wu-Tang being one and us another.” I took it back to my dudes and they thought it was a [great] idea. Ever since I told Bizzy [Bone] about it, he’s been on my neck everyday like, “Yo, we need to do this, Kray! We need to do this, I’m telling you. I love Wu-Tang but I think we’ll have much better results, I’m telling you.” We talked about it for a while then we were coming up on this world tour. We said we need to do everything simultaneously. The idea for that is to make it the final group project. What better way to go out and to solidify the [Bone thugs-n-harmony] brand. I don’t see no other way. It has to be big. We have to make sure we reach everybody. So I think doing it like this will be huge, especially for our last group album.
DX: So Bizzy was excited about it. What was Layzie Bone’s response when he first heard the idea?
Krayzie Bone: Everybody was pretty much in agreement with it. Everybody was like, “It’s definitely something we should do because it makes a good story.” We never wanted Bone to go out like one day there just is no more Bone. We had a beginning and we wanted to have an ending. That’s rare. We wanted an ending and everybody agreed that this would be the perfect ending to our legacy. Once we start to get into other aspects of the business it’ll just make it all the more better.
DX: Were you already thinking about your final project before this idea, or was this a reason to decide that the next project would be your final album?
Krayzie Bone: We were working on the 20th anniversary [of E.1999/Eternal]. After we decided to do this idea, we were like, “Why not make it bigger than just a 20th anniversary?” The 20th anniversary album was gonna be our last album [as a group]. This adds more to the story. It makes it bigger. It’ll open everybody’s eyes to what we’re doing right now.
DX: Have you thought about how you plan to sell it? Will it be an auction process of some sort?
Krayzie Bone: It’s gonna be an auction process. We’re going to start the bidding at $1 million. We’re just looking forward to seeing how far we can go with it. It’s gonna be a classic album. It’s gonna be a double CD. One CD is gonna be just us with our original Bone sound. That second CD, we’re gonna bring in as many of the guest appearances that we’ve worked with in the past to the new generation. We’re going to try to hit everybody from Phil Collins, Mariah Carey all the way to Drake and Wiz Khalifa and Kendrick Lamar. We already got verbal confirmation from all these people to be a part of it and help us celebrate the 20 years we’ve been in the business, anyway. This will make it all the more better.
DX: Is DJ U-Neek producing on this?
Krayzie Bone: Oh yeah. He’ll definitely be the producer that’s involved. We’ll be talking to other producers as well—DJ U-Neek, but a couple of other in-house producers we have as well. DJ U-Neek will definitely be involved as far as the arranging and creating [of the album]. He was a major part of our camp when we first came out. It started with him, so we’ve gotta end it with him as well.
DX: How do you plan to keep this one project a secret, or away from the Internet?
Krayzie Bone: The engineer that we have, he’s been with us for a while. We trust him. We’re not going to be recording this album at different studios and here and there. It’s all gonna be done in my recording studio and everybody has agreed to not make any copies to take home and listen to. Any members that want to listen to the album to vibe will have to go to the studio to listen. Nothing is leaving the studio. Period.
DX: Is this bitter sweet at all? This is the final collective hurrah for BTNH.
Krayzie Bone: It is bitter sweet. This is not us saying that we’re not going to deal with each other. We’re actually making a few corporations together, and we have things we’re going to be doing behind the scenes in music and with movies. We’re going to establish our own film company: BTNH Films. I’m working on a media company: Krayzie Bone Media. We’re going to be developing artists. It’s not just going to be me. It’s going to be everybody. There are some members that have other things they want to do that they want the whole group to be a part of, so this is not the end of business for Bone. We’re just taking it to the next level right now.
DX: What’s the response been like so far since TMZ broke the story about the album?
Krayzie Bone: It’s been real intense, especially from the fans. Our fans panic over everything. They panic if they feel one person ain’t gonna be in a show. We expected it from them. The response overall has been great. It’s been very fast. Everybody has responded immediately. People around the world are going to make sure they’re at our concert. There are a lot of places overseas that we’ve never been, so there are a lot of people that think this is gonna be their last opportunity to see Bone thugs-n-harmony as all five on stage. It should be great. I’m already hearing from the people that’s planning our world tour that are getting calls from countries that want to do two or three shows in one city. Hopefully it gets that big to where we can pull that off.
They’re all excited and we’re saving the best for last. We’re gonna end the tour in America. We’re gonna hit damn near every state in America. It’s gonna be pretty big.
Krayzie Bone Says $1 Million Album To Be Titled E. 1999/Legends
DX: Do you have a title for the project?
Krayzie Bone: The title’s going to be E.1999/Legends.
DX: Is it going to be thematically similar to E.1999 Eternal?
Krayzie Bone: We’ve thought about it, but that’s something we’re still negotiating and talking about amongst ourselves—trying to come up with the proper theme for it—because we’re trying to tie in our entire life story from before we met Eazy E. There’s gonna be a lot of that, a lot of pre-Bone thugs-n-harmony all the way through everything we went through up until now. We’re also going to be releasing a Bone thugs-n-harmony documentary and a movie on our life story along with this project, as well. It’s going to be a lot coming with this project. It’s gonna be an event. It’s not gonna be an album. It’s gonna be a huge event for our old fans and for the new fans.
DX: I always imagined that you guys have unreleased Eazy E tracks sitting somewhere. This to me seems like the time those tracks would show up.
Krayzie Bone: Definitely, man. We’ve got a few surprises for this one. It’s gonna be fun to work on this album. Everybody is excited. I talked with Bizzy on the phone this morning. I talked with [Flesh-N-Bone]. They was just happy that we finally [put things in motion]. We’ve been thinking like this for a while. Like I said, Bizzy’s been eager to get it out there. We had to make sure we had all of our ducks in a row and everything was ready. That’s why we’re making the announcement now. It’s gonna be fun.
DX: It seems like a good time announce the story, especially with Chasing The Devil on the way. How are you feeling about Chasing The Devil now that the release is around the corner (July 22)?
Krayzie Bone: I’m really excited about the album. It’s coming along great. The fans are anticipating it. I have Bone thugs-n-harmony fully participating on all three CDs. It’s going to be great. I think we’re solidifying the legacy and leaving it in good standing with our fans. I think everybody will be happy with it. I’m happy with it. We put a lot of work into it. I still have a lot of work to do with the other two albums. I’m enjoying it. I haven’t enjoyed putting together an album like this since my first solo album [Thug Mentality]. It feels real good to have the freedom and the time to put it together the way I wanted it to come out. I’m real happy about it.
DX: My favorite line on “All Original” off of The Art Of War was, “Running around foul claiming we stole your style / Muthafucka we ain’t never been to your town / It’s all original / Coming from the Cleveland criminals / So here we go / Got a gun should I buck ‘em all down? / Or should I kill ‘em when I put the instrumental on? / Why everybody wanna sound like Krayzie, Layzie, Bizzy, Wish and Flesh / I’m so full of anguish / Got a style so cold everybody and they mama wanna claim it but they can’t get the hang of it.” What was your mindset for that line?
Krayzie Bone: That was the era where we were offended by people trying to sound like Bone. The mode we were in, if you listen to that album you hear a lot of songs about that, like: “You Ain’t Bone” and “All Original” and stuff like that. That was the mindset we were in because we came from the era where if you sound like someone else, you was biting; you was a perpetrator; you was a fraud. We were still in that mind state by the time we did The Art Of War. I can remember the reason I wrote that line was because this was the time when we were suppose to have beef with Three 6 Mafia and Do Or Die and Crucial Conflict, and I read some interviews where they were calling us biters. I was like, “How was that the case?” In one of the rhymes I said “…Muthafucka we ain’t never been to your town.” How we biting y’all? We didn’t hear nobody sounding like this. We had never left Cleveland at the time. That’s where we were with that. We were just getting at everybody because we were looking at it as being offended rather than flattered like the way we look at it now.
Krayzie Bone Reacts To Lebron James’ Return To Cleveland Cavaliers
DX: Is there anything else you’d like to make sure comes across in this interview?
Krayzie Bone: I just want to tell all of our fans not to panic. This don’t mean Bone thugs-n-harmony will disappear. Trust me, we’re gonna have our hands in a lot in this music business. We’re gonna be responsible for a lot of things that happen in this new age record industry. Just expect us to be around for 20 more years if God is willing. We still here, man. We have nothing but time against us and hopefully we can be there as long as possible.
I also want to say Lebron James is back in Cleveland! It’s going down! [Laughs] It couldn’t have come at a better time. I got a call from one of my people out in Ohio and they said they were talking about it on the radio. The state is ecstatic right now because Lebron came home and we got Bone thugs-n-harmony coming back to do a five-man world tour. We’re two-for-two right now, so I just want to shout out everybody in Ohio and let them know that we’re still riding for y’all. I just wanna shout out Lebron James—a very good friend—and I’m glad to have him back in Ohio. It’s real crazy in Ohio right now.
DX: Were you surprised that he decided to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers?
Krayzie Bone: I’ve been on the phone with his agent Rich Paul—who is actually from St. Claire, our neighborhood. Just by the way that he was talking, I could kind of tell but I still wasn’t sure. In these kinds of businesses—entertainment and sports—it’s kind of hard to really pick up on everything because everybody is being [guarded]. But when I heard he was returning I was like, “Yes, yes. Thank you.” That’s what the city, that’s what the state needed right now. Like I said, everybody is excited in Ohio right now. It’s a wonderful time to be from there, for real.