Next year will mark the twentieth anniversary of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s 1994 EP, Creepin on Ah Come Up. While the album only consisted of eight tracks and didn’t see the commercial success of its successor E. 1999 Eternal, the release put Bone on the map. It also helped put Ohio on the Hip Hop map.
Previous to the Cleveland quintet’s success, the Midwest state didn’t have a nationally renowned Hip Hop group to call its own. Ohio’s succeeding urban sound was also heavily influenced by Bone Thugs’ on-beat cadence and West Coast, synth-infused instrumentals. Or maybe that was Eazy-E. The late Eric Wright was the one who discovered and signed the group to Ruthless Records in late 1993, or actually, it was Bone who discovered him.
“We took one-way bus tickets to L.A. and decided that we were either going to do this now or we never gonna make it,” Krayzie Bone said. “Somehow we got the number to Eazy-E’s office, and we just kept calling and calling, until one day the secretary was like, ‘I’m going to make sure he calls you back ‘cause I’m tired of y’all calling in. Y’all been calling every day, and I’ll make sure he’ll call you back.’ So, one day he called us back. I rapped for him on the phone, and it was just crazy. He was just trippin’.”
In an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, Krayzie and Flesh detail how they met the N.W.A. member, when they signed with Ruthless and the affect Eazy’s death had on their lives and careers. Flesh-n-Bone admitted that Eazy-E’s passing in 1995 and subsequent shuffling of operations at Ruthless put him into withdraw, placing him in the center of a harsh drug addiction that would take him years to shake.
Recently finishing up their “20th Anniversary Reunion Tour,” during which they performed many of the classic tracks from the mid-‘90s, the group’s future musical endeavors are uncertain. Bone signed a single deal with E1 Entertainment in late August, but with Layzie’s departure, the status of a future five-member Bone album is uncertain to say the least.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony Reveal Single Deal With E1 Entertainment
HipHopDX: What’s been going on recently with you guys maybe even non-musically?
Krayzie Bone: Man, there hasn’t been much going on non-musically; I just been working. We’re on the road, just had this single and when I’m not doing shit, I’m at the house, watching movies, kicking back, playing Xbox, or just hanging out with the kids.
Flesh-n-Bone: I just got custody of all my kids and everything, so I’ve been really getting my whole domesticated life on–grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning and making beds, getting them ready for school—and I’m loving it. It’s the first time in the five years I’ve been home from prison that I’ve been able to enjoy such a privilege, and just arranging and getting things together with my kids and everything has been one of the greatest lessons. I’ve been hitting the road and everything. It’s been all family life for me, and I’ve been enjoying it and being able to have an opportunity to have all my sons and my daughter up under my wing like that. I’ve been locked away in prison for 10 years, and even the five years I’ve been home, they’ve still been waiting on the opportunity to embrace me and be with me. Now they have that opportunity, because they stay with me. They live with me, and now I tutor them, coach them and that’s my level right now.
DX: You guys recently signed a single deal with E1 Entertainment. A little different from your storied run with Ruthless and subsequent signings with Interscope and Warner Bros…
Krayzie Bone: Yeah, really it’s just a single deal. We didn’t really sign a full-fledged contract with any label; it’s just a single deal, song to song. So that’s pretty much what it is. It’s cool to reach out and still have those avenues with different people.
Flesh-n-Bone: To have a semi-home over there with E1, we’ve got a great relationship with Alan Grunblatt and the staff over there. We go way back. Alan knows the group, how to market the group, how to promote the group and work with the group. And it’s great to be working with Alan—even those at other major companies—because it’s more of a hands-on thing. It’s Bone Thugs-n-Harmony with Steve Lobel, Jamie Adler, our agent and manager working hand in hand with the president and ourselves. And it’s not all about needing to jump in full fledge and make an LP. We’re confident we can do single at a time until we can build up to a record-type situation, but right now for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony is getting back out there. Our core fans are the ones carrying us this past six or seven years.
Everything didn’t work out with Warner Bros. We were dealing with Interscope when I first came home, and then that transitioned into Warner Bros. What did not happen with these situations was the marketing campaign was not there. We were moving with no marketing or no promo. We have a solid, hardcore fan base, but right now the goal is to reach outside of that fan base and create millions of other fans. We can reach a half a billion people, and that’s not farfetched dealing with a company like E1, and having the capabilities to doing as much marketing and promo.
We’re reaching new fans, and we’re trying to open up other gates. Even the main hardcore fans we have now were introduced to us at very young ages, so our demographic reaches from the toddlers all the way up to the senior citizens. You have people who are 60-years-old today that were fans of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony when they were 40-years-old; they’re still fans, so we transcend the demographic all the way through and through. E1 does provide that as long as we’re willing to do the legwork, get in there and do the grassroots-type marketing. We can reach another billion fans that have yet to hear about Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and this is how we continue our legacy and this is our mission right now.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony On Being Embraced By Younger Fans
DX: Bone Thugs was featured on A$AP Ferg’s Trap Lord album in the song “Lord.” Tell me about the making of that track.
Krayzie Bone: It was basically, my people came to me and said that they wanted us to get on the track. I heard the track, and I was like, “Man, this track is crazy.” So we went to the studio and knocked it out. They are some dope cats over there, and they shout us out a lot as being inspirational to them while they was coming up and what they were doing. So it ain’t nothing but love, and it’s an honor and a pleasure to give cats something and get down on a track.
Flesh-n-Bone: We were able to have the privilege of getting the call from one of our buddies in A$AP Ferg. Some of the A$AP brothers were in the studio, and they wanted us to come out. We had just got off tour, and our vocal boxes was destroyed, but I had a call to come to the studio to meet A$AP crew. The only one that wasn’t there was A$AP Rocky, but the rest of them was there, and we get to the studio. We bond with these guys. It’s like brothers from another mother, and they told us stories about how they mothers used to raise them everyday, cooking and cleaning, and they used to wake up to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Their mothers was inspiring them, telling them they can be, and how they can do it their own peculiar way. This is what she taught them, “You guys can be like Bone Thugs-n-Harmony,” and they did. She’s a great fan, she taught her kids to be great fans of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and it resonates through their music. We had a great time at the studio. We talked and then we went through the archives of music, what Trap Lord was getting ready to sound like, and we chose that one.
DX: Rocky also brought you all out during Summer Jam and, a lot of younger artists look up to Bone—maybe even more now than a few years ago. What does it mean to hear that you are someone these kids are looking up to years later?
Krayzie Bone: Man, it’s definitely an honor, but it’s just how the game goes. It’s like, we looked up to the cats that we looked up to before we got in the game, and it just keeps going around. It just really came off in our music, so everyone is paying homage, and that’s just how it go, ‘cause we did the same thing.
Flesh-n-Bone: We have a lot on our shoulders, and God says he doesn’t put anything on man’s shoulder greater than he can bear. What we see happening may seem to a certain extent our responsibility of feel to a certain degree by putting out music that’s inspirational and motivational. This is what we focused on in the early part of our career and still are doing. Our music is motivational enough to the point where it’s enough to attribute our success to their success, and it affects me profoundly. I’m very grateful and thankful to God, and I pray to him to give us the capability to continue to inspire people in a positive way. This is what has happened, and this is what you see when you read between the lines and when you read the interviews with all of the artists out there now.
In any type of interview, [you read] how their influence is Bone Thugs and one of their main influences is Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. That means a lot; that means we’re doing what we’re supposed to do. We’re fulfilling our obligations in a sense. It has to be a positive influence, or else it’s in vain and a waste of time. We get on a track, and we inspire people towards something that’s feasible versus getting on a track and talking shit about you, talking about how great I am or how greater I am than you. Flossing on you, and [talking about] how much more money I got than you gets you nowhere. I don’t need to be wasting my time flossing on somebody that’s going to be buying my music that can’t afford the jewelry I wear. So this is a big difference between how we influence and how others influence. The love we get from the guys out there like Drake, Kendrick Lamar—even Lil Wayne—is fantastic, and I hope that we can continue to carry that type of legacy.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony Recall Making “Creepin on Ah Come Up”
DX: Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of Creepin on Ah Come Up, which really got you that major notice worldwide. What are some of your best memories from making that album?
Krayzie Bone: Man, it was just crazy. We were at a different studio everyday just moving. Eazy-E would come and pick us up every morning like, “Come on, we got to go to the studio.” And we would all just cram up in his Benz and just be moving. That’s crazy, ‘cause it was with Eazy and those were some good memories.
Flesh-n-Bone: It was definitely a privilege and a pleasure to be in the presence of Eazy-E along with having him executive producing and marketing that record. We watched how he marketed that record from grassroots-type marketing, and he taught us the advantage of going to the mom and pop stores, feeling good about pulling up in the neighborhood and passing out a flyer or a couple of CDs. Eazy-E did a lot of the photo shooting himself, he did a lot of the video shooting himself. He taught us the necessity of how to prepare a record and how to get it out there. He took us to the public relation office and to the radio stations to meet the program directors and stuff of that nature. We carry all of that knowledge with us today, so that’s how special Creepin on Ah Come Up was in initiating us into the professional world of Hip Hop. Going into the 20-year anniversary, this is also something that we carry along with us. Most memorable is absolutely being in that studio with Eazy-E and then sharing ideas with us…can’t take that away.
DX: You mention Eazy-E, What did he mean to Bone Thugs and their development?
Krayzie Bone: Man, it was everything. If it wasn’t for him, the world would have never heard us in the way that they heard us. Eazy was a visionary. He heard our sound and he knew exactly what to do with it and who to take us to. It was crazy; he set everything in motion to how it was supposed to go, and that’s just what it is.
Flesh-n-Bone: He helped us, and he meant more to us than just a mentor. He was sort of the bigger brother that I never had—‘cause I’m the oldest sibling of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony—and so he was our other older, bigger brother. For the two years that we were able to spend with him in our life and his life, it was sort of like he adopted us in a sense. He made us his little brothers, and we were together pretty much all the time. He would come pick us up, we would jump in his Benz, and it would be us five Bone Thugs-n-Harmony members plus Eazy-E. He would take us on his daily errands—hitting the studio, doing Creepin on Ah Come Up and starting on E. 1999 Eternal. He wasn’t alive to see that released, but he was able to executive produce that, give that direction and his input on that record. So Eazy-E means more to us than just a mentor. This man helped us with opportunities that we have today, and we are extremely grateful and indebted to this man. That’s how much he means to us.
DX: If you could, take me back to the early Ruthless Records days when you signed with the label two decades ago. When that contract was presented to you and you were signed as a group, your first contract…what was that all like?
Krayzie Bone: It was crazy, yo. We was in disbelief. Here we are one night, struggling. We don’t even got food or nothing, and then after we meet him it’s just like, we signed the contract and get money. It’s crazy, and so it was cool. All we knew was that we was with Eazy-E, he signed us and we about to be put on. And when it finally came out it was real.
DX: How did he originally link with you, or how did he take interest in wanting to sign you guys?
Krayzie Bone: We was in Cleveland, and we felt that we were going to go as far as we were going to go in Cleveland as far as the music scene goes. It was only so far that we could have went there, so we realized we had to go somewhere where we were going to be heard and for someone to put us on. As far as those rappers on the East Coast—we loved all those rappers—but we really connected with Eazy-E, N.W.A. and that whole camp when it started off. That was more of what we wanted to hear at the time. We took one-way bus tickets to L.A. and decided that we were either going to do this now, or we never gonna make it. We went out to California and had very, very limited hook-ups out there. We knew a person from Cleveland that lived out there, so we stayed with him for a while, and it was like seven people in a one-bedroom house. It was just crazy.
Somehow we got the number to Eazy-E’s office, and we just kept calling and calling until one day the secretary was like, “I’m going to make sure he calls you back, ‘cause I’m tired of y’all calling in. Y’all been calling every day, and I’ll make sure he call you back.” So, one day he called us back, and I rapped for him on the phone, and it was just crazy. He was just trippin.’ He said that he had a show coming up in Cleveland in two weeks, so we was like, “Man, we gotta hustle up and get down to that show.” So we hustled up some more money just to get tickets back to Cleveland and met him at the show. Once he found out it was us who rapped on the phone, he was like, “When y’all trying to leave?” And two days later, we was back on our way to Los Angeles—this time with Eazy-E paying for it though. So, it was crazy.
Flesh-n-Bone: We were consistent. We were in Los Angeles—a place that was foreign land—but as youngsters we knew we had to be somewhere other than Cleveland in order to be able to launch our music careers. We had the opportunity to either go to New York, Texas or California, and we chose California. Once we got here, we did have friends that were able to take us in, house us and help us toward that direction. And what we did was, often we went door-to-door searching, finding where certain celebrities lived and visiting them and we were secretaries on the phone. And once we got in contact with the Ruthless office, we called them consistently. By talking to the secretary there, she got familiar with us for about two weeks straight to the point where she felt obligated to make sure that she was able to get [Eazy-E] on the phone.
And that’s what she did. It was a never give up type of deal with us. Our spirits were high, and it was a situation where it was one of the stories that if you try hard enough, you will succeed. We wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. We were patient, and the people that we were dealing with were not assholes. We called the office, and she didn’t lose patience with us, because we were calling so much. God bless her for that, because she connected us with Eazy-E and gave us the opportunity to be able to speak with him and finally meet him when we went back to Cleveland and opened up the show for him. It was history in the making.
Flesh-n-Bone Recalls Overcoming PCP Addiction & Eazy-Es Death
DX: You mentioned him executive producing E. 1999 Eternal. He got sick through the course of making that album and eventually died. How did that hit you when he died, knowing that he wasn’t going to see your continued success, which you still have until this day?
Flesh-n-Bone: Right. Him leaving put us in a position of having to deal with a new staff at Ruthless Records. For me, it was like Pandora’s Box was released, and we had to get used to who’s next. So Tomika Wright came into the picture along with a whole new, entire staff. For me, when Eazy-E passed and everything… We never lost hope, but we lost a dude that was guiding us at that time, and we lost our best friend. I was going through a lot of struggles myself mentally and emotionally with drugs and everything. I had gotten hold of some sherm [PCP], and acted erratic in a sense. And it was hard for me to pull out of that, but I eventually did. It was hard for me to create a relationship with Ruthless Records, because I was unstable. Flesh-n-Bone had to get right, but nevertheless, I never failed to contribute creatively and artistically when it came to performing when I needed to perform. A lot of things happened that was not to my benefit.
It was real hard for me, and I don’t knock nobody. I don’t take nothing from nobody, because they was dealing with a condition in me that they didn’t have the knowledge or understanding of how to deal with. It was like, “Fuck it. Take him to the hospital, and let ‘em pump him up with drugs.” Like, this was the only way they knew how to deal with that back then. But that was a part of my struggle that I had to go through to gain the knowledge that I had to gain, so Flesh-n-Bone could be effective and have an impact in this world right now. My struggles were deep back then, especially when we acknowledged that [Eazy-E] had passed away and everything. I ended up back in Cleveland on some straight gutter hustle shit, but I was smoking that sherm shit. Things were not good for me at that time.
As a soldier, I was able to pull out of that, and not only am I back on some Einstein shit, but I’m an artist and I’m a businessman. I’m growing and excelling to every extent. When we were segueing from Eazy being involved to trying to keep Ruthless Records together, I was at a loss. I didn’t have any friends. Even Bone Thugs didn’t know how to deal with me, so I didn’t really have anyone to help deal with my own struggles and my own demons. God put me in a position where I had to snap back and come back. Most people that smoke sherm in their life, they go so far off the planet they never come back. I’m not one of those people, and I was one of the people that was able to regain my health. I’m lucky today.
DX: Shifting more toward now, what do you guys have coming up in the immediate future that you want to accomplish?
Krayzie Bone: Well, I mean, the clothing line and apparel. We opened up a store in downtown Los Angeles. I just got casted in a movie, which was my first actually…major role. It’s not the lead role, but it’s a very big role called The First Pick, and it’s a basketball movie. It’s along the lines of Above The Rim, and I’m also doing the whole soundtrack to that project as well. So I’m just doing a whole lot, man. I’m working with new artists.
Flesh-n-Bone: We certainly want to surprise ‘em with a record going into our 20-year anniversary. And in the meantime, we going to keep hitting the road, reaching out and trying to get on the radio. We’re working on a couple singles to follow up our newest one. In the meantime, I’ve been working on my website, FleshNBoneGlobal.com, and I’ve been working on building that Flesh-n-Bone brand at the same time…getting that out there. The Bone Thugs-n-Harmony clothing line is what I’ve been focusing on.
I’m working that fashion on my website to be one of those one-stop shops for the fans to get that top quality Bone Thugs-n-Harmony merchandise. The fans can definitely go on there and support that. There’s the new singles that I just put out called “Debt To Society” and “Heartaches,” and eventually I’m going to re-release these on the radio globally. Now it’s just the Internet presence and just the presence on my website. And along with that, I’m working on the singles that Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are doing to create as much media exposure as possible to tap into those new fans.
DX: Krayzie, tell me a little bit more about Chasing The Devil.
Krayzie Bone: Yeah, like I said, it’s going to be the final solo album that I do. Basically it’s going to be a double CD. It’s been really anticipated, ‘cause I’ve been working on it for going on three years now. But I’ve been just waiting on the right time and the right opportunity to present it and make sure I have everything in line. I’m rapping that up right now, man, and I think the fans will really be into it.
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