Bone Thugs-n-Harmony were just five ambitious rappers from Cleveland when they linked up with N.W.A pioneer Eazy-E in the early 1990s — not the Ruthless Records legends they are today. Bizzy Bone, Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Wish Bone and Flesh-N-Bone began their ascent to Hip Hop glory in June 1994 with the Creepin’ On Ah Come Up EP, which included production from Eazy-E, DJ Yella and DJ U-Neek.

But roughly a year later, as Bone Thugs was working on their critically acclaimed debut album E. 1999 Eternal,Eazy-E passed away after reportedly contracting the HIV/AIDS virus. On Monday (January 3), a video snippet from the WEtv documentary The Mysterious Death Of Eazy-E went viral and supposedly debunked a longstanding theory Eazy-E didn’t actually die from the disease.

In the clip, Dr. Wilbert Jordan claims he treated two women who told him Eazy-E had infected them with HIV. But to Krayzie Bone, Eazy-E’s death has always been suspect — no matter what anyone says.

“That whole situation was funny,” Krayzie Bone tells HipHopDX. “I just say this — and this is what I’ve stood on from the beginning. That may be true, but all I have said in this case is I’ve seen people that’s about to die from full-blown AIDS, and they look like they’re about to die from full-blown AIDS. I’ve seen people that they have HIV, and they look totally normal. That’s what he had. That’s how Eazy-E looked when he died — totally normal.

“He didn’t get skinny, didn’t shrivel up, didn’t shrink up — none of that. I just don’t understand how it came on that fast. He died so quick. How did it happen like that? If you’ve got full-blown AIDS and you’re terminal … have you seen people that are about to die from cancer? You look like you’re going to … if you’re about to die from a disease, you look like you’re about to die from that disease.”

Eazy-E was diagnosed with HIV in February 1995 and died on March 26, 1995 at just 30 years old. His death was completely unexpected by the group. Shortly before Eazy passed away, Bone Thugs was having trouble reaching the Ruthless Records founder. Holed up and broke in a Los Angeles hotel room, they figured it was time to pack up their bags and head back to Cleveland.

“It had started going days we wouldn’t hear from him, then it turned into weeks we didn’t hear from him,” he explains. “And we was out here in Los Angeles, living in hotels. We didn’t have no family out here. Eazy was our life support. We wasn’t making money yet, you know what I’m saying? When we finally met one-on-one, then we was like, ‘Bro, if you’re going to disappear like that and leave us in the hotel for dead, can you at least send us back to Cleveland? At least we can hustle and make some money. We don’t know nothing about these L.A. streets. Send us back to Cleveland so we can make some money, at least.”

That’s when Eazy-E pulled out that manila folder depicted in the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton and informed Bone Thugs his manager Jerry Heller had allegedly been extorting him.

“He pulled it out and was like, ‘Look, man …’ and he was hurt by it,” he says. “He was hurt because he lost his whole group over Jerry Heller, you know what I’m saying? So he was hurt by it. He was like, ‘Man, I need y’all to just stay and just be patient. I’m cleaning house. I’m bringing all new people in. Jerry Heller is gone.’ He was like, ‘Y’all go to the office tomorrow, and Keisha will take care of y’all.’ Keisha was the one who actually made Eazy-E call us back on the phone in the beginning.”

He continues, “The next day, we went up to the office to get the money that Eazy-E had gave to her for us, and Jerry Heller was in the office when we went in there. We heard shit getting slammed around the office, and Keisha was like, ‘He’s pissed. Eric [Wright] fired him.’ And all we heard was, ‘How the fuck he think he can fire me?’ We was like, ‘Oh shit, this sounds serious.’ No lie. So we got the money and left.”

Bone Thugs never saw Eazy-E again. According to Krayzie, that was right around the time he’d fallen ill.

“We was in the middle of working on our E. 1999 Eternal album, and Eazy was originally supposed to be on ‘Mr. Bill Collector,’ but he never came to lay his verse,” he says. “I think that’s when he started getting sick. He never came to do his verse. After that, we get called to the office a few months later because they said they were giving us our advancement money for signing to the label.

“So we go to the record label, and we go in there, and Eazy’s not there. And some attorney named Ron Sweeney that we had never seen before was there, and he’s talking to us like we’re supposed to listen to him, and we’re like, ‘Who the fuck are you?’ So we was like, ‘Oh, yeah? Well, we want to talk to Eazy. We don’t know who you is. And we’ll take the checks, thank you, but we want to talk to Eric.’ So we got the money and moved back to Cleveland.”

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The radio silence continued until one day Krayzie Bone was sitting at his house watching MTV News and learned Eazy-E had just been diagnosed with HIV.

“I was like, ‘That’s crazy,'” he says. “But then, weeks later, they said Eazy-E just passed away from full-blown AIDS. I’m like, what the hell? That was suspicious to me from the jump. I know AIDS was new back then, but it didn’t move that fast. It was just shocking. We had just met Eazy. We was only with Eazy for a year. Everything we did with him was within a year’s time. And then he passes away.”

Despite Eazy-E’s absence, Bone Thugs went on to release E. 1999 Eternal on July 25, 1995. The Grammy Award-nominated project sold over four million copies, becoming the group’s most successful album to date. But there’s rarely a day Krayzie Bone doesn’t think about Eazy-E.

“[I think about Eazy] very often because we wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to touch so many people and to do what we’re doing in our lives if it wasn’t for him,” he says. “His best piece of advice was, ‘All money ain’t good money. Sometimes it can be a bad business plan disguised with money. I really see what he mean by that, for real.”

Check back with HipHopDX for Part II of the Krayzie Bone interview where he’ll discuss the Three 6 Mafia Verzuz and more.