Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s longtime producer, DJ U-Neek discussed the first time he met Chris Lighty, who passed away in 2012 from an apparent suicide. In an interview with HipHopDX’s Live With Steve Lobel, the South Central, Los Angeles native said the two encountered while Ruthless Records was reeling from the tragic death of Eazy-E.
“Chris Lighty came in at a time where Eazy-E just passed and Ruthless was in shambles,” U-Neek tells Steve Lobel. “Nothing was getting done. My lawyer had a connection with Chris and was really just trying to keep me afloat with work. Chris came over to the studio where I was doing all the Bone records. What really sparked it off with him was how much I knew about him. I’m thinking, ‘This isn’t the same Chris Lighty from The Jungle Brothers?’ He fell in love with me from there. We started talking about doing a couple projects he had on Violator. We just connected. He really looked out for Flesh-n-Bone.”
DJ U-Neek produced the majority of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s classic material including “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” “No Surrender,” “Dayz Of Our Lives,” as well as the bulk of E. 1999/Eternal and double disc Art Of War. In the interview, he describes how he first began working with Eazy-E and Ruthless Records.
“Eazy-E was my mentor,” he says. “I would always see him at events but never approached him on business. There was so much going on so the timing was never right. I decided to take a tape up to Ruthless. He wasn’t there, but Jerry Heller was there. He said he’d make sure he’d get the tape to Eazy. Then Eazy called me. ‘This is Eazy. I heard the Beats For Sale. That’s the tape I gave him. He’s like, ‘Man, where you been? How come I don’t know you?’ He welcomed me to Ruthless Records. Dr. Dre had just left. From there we just clicked up and made history.”
U-Neek also details Krayzie Bone’s first reaction to hearing his production and notes him as the Bone member providing the group’s sonic direction.
“Krayzie Bone, he was the one that gave me direction,” U-Neek continues, explaining how he initially began working with BTNH. “I’m here doing tracks for Eazy and other Ruthless artists. He was asking, ‘Who’s the guy that did ‘Kuz Itz Like Dat?’ [by Menajahtwa]. They were signed through Yella. I did a track for them. I guess he already knew. They wanted a slow jam. Krayzie was like, ‘That’s the vibe we’re on.’ I just started hooking up some beats while Eric went to get them song clothes. When they came back, I pushed ‘Play.’ They went crazy. I’m playing ‘Creepin On Uh Come Up.’ I’m playing ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone.’ I’m playing ‘Surrender.’ They’re going crazy. They hugging each other going crazy. From there, it was magic.”
The “Thug Love” producer commented on the state of today’s Hip Hop, describing this era as going through an “identity crisis” because everything sounds so similar.
“There’s really no separation,” he says. “When was coming up, Public Enemy, Leaders Of The New School—everyone had their own identity. Now everybody’s following and are scared to take a chance. It’s good as far as social media. You can get out there and blow yourself up as far as marketing. As far as the identity, as far as the sound—I can’t tell who’s who.”