Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Interview
|Label:||BNTH Worldwide/Warner Bros.|
|Next Project:||Uni-5: The World's Enemy|
|Twitter:||Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on Twitter|
|Website:||Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's Website|
When Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” he could easily have been talking about the long and illustrious, but tumultuous career of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Though many and varied obstacles, from artistic and financial differences to prison sentences, have divided the Cleveland quintet over the course of their 15-plus years in the game, the Bone brothers have weathered the storms and are now ready to make their comeback with Uni-5: The World’s Enemy, the first LP to feature the full lineup since 2000’s BTNH: Resurrection.
Set to hit stores and online retailers May 4, via BTNH Worldwide/Asylum/Warner Bros, Uni-5 comes complete with official singles “See Me Shine,” “Rebirth” and “Meet Me in the Sky,” as well as leaked tracks “Vegas,” “Gone,” “Pay What You Owe” and the reader-acclaimed “Gangsta’s Glory.” Fans can currently catch four-fifths of BTNH (Layzie, Krayzie, Wish and Flesh) on their ongoing national tour, which began in late March and will run until May 2.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” Layzie, Krayzie, Wish and Flesh step into the Booth to discuss the ways in which their struggles have shaped their musical output, why Bizzy‘s absence from the tour shouldn’t stop fans from purchasing a ticket, and what it will take for Z to finally get all five members on the phone.
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Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Grammy Award-winning group who has sold over 30 million albums over the course of their illustrious, 19-year collective career. Gearing up for the release of their brand new album, Uni-5: The World’s Enemy on May the 4th, please welcome Krayzie, Layzie, Wish and Flesh of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Guys, how are you doin’?
Bone Thugs: Yeah, yeah! All right! What’s happening?
DJ Booth: The pleasure is all mine. Being able to talk to you guys is always great.
Krayzie: It’s all love, man. Thanks for havin’ us.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. This is actually the fourth Bone Thugs-N-Harmony interview that I’ll have done over the last seven years. But guys, never once have I had the pleasure of speaking with all five of you in one interview. What is it gonna take – some of my grandma’s cookies?
Bone Thugs: [laughter]
Layzie: Cookies… I don’t know [about] your grandma’s cookies, though!
Bone Thugs: Brownies!
DJ Booth: OK, I’ve just gotta tell Grandma to make some of her “special brownies” and we can get all five of you guys on the phone?
DJ Booth: All right – if I had known it was that simple, I would’ve had her make ‘em like seven years ago.
Bone Thugs: [laughter]
DJ Booth: All right. You guys are out on tour right now. You went out on tour at the end of March, going through to the beginning of May. How has it been so far?
Layzie: Man, it’s been an eventful ride, to say the least. But the shows have been sold out, every show we’ve played has been sold out, so it’s just been nonstop rockin’ and rollin’ thug style.
Krayzie: Yeah. There’s been a lot of energy – you know, the crowd has been givin’ us a great response, comin’ out and supportin’ us. To us it seems like the fans never left, so that’s a blessing, and Z, we just wanna say much love to our fans who have been with us this whole ride.
DJ Booth: Guys, obviously, for anyone who has come to see one of your shows, or who is thinking about it, it’s no surprise that Bizzy has not been a part of them. I read Bizzy said, “They asked me not to be a part of it.” And I don’t wanna cause any rifts or start any beef, but is that really what happened, or what is the real reason he is not a part of this tour?
Layzie: To be perfectly honest with you, it wasn’t that we asked him not to be a part of the tour; it was a financial issue with Bizzy, where he felt that we should be makin’ more money. We understood goin’ out on the road as a promotional tour, to promote the album, and it really wasn’t about the money with us. It was more about just building awareness for the album, things like that. So, Bizzy, he made his decision not to come on his own. And I don’t know if he was intoxicated when he said that, or what it was, but we asked Bizzy to come on tour, but he felt we should get more money, and that’s exactly what it was.
DJ Booth: Money always comes between people – I hate that. Hate that.
Flesh: It definitely is a root of evil.
DJ Booth: Guys, what reassurances can you give to your loyal – I mean, really loyal – fans, who were so much looking forward to seeing the whole group perform live as a quintet, that may now be on the fence about coming out to a show, ‘cause they’re not going to get what they originally expected?
Wish: Well, obviously, if they had ever been to a Bone show, there hasn’t been too many of ‘em where they would miss anything, especially a member bein’ gone. Because the show is still gonna be immaculate, there’s gonna be a lot of energy, you’re still gonna be able to hear all the hits and some new music. So, if anybody takes that stand, they’d be a damn fool!
DJ Booth: Very well said. [laughs] The title, as I mentioned in the intro, is Uni-5: The World’s Enemy. Now, Bone Thugs have never played up the whole “bad guy” persona that you see a lot of artists in this industry try to do, so in the title, who are you referring to as the enemy?
Flesh: We’re the world’s enemy: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony ourselves is the world’s enemy. The concept “Uni-5,” that whole ideology of unity, brotherhood, fraternity. And when you’re talking about togetherness, in essence, the world is against unity, period. When you’ve got a strong family foundation, and you’re makin’ noise and building your situation, you’re an enemy against the world in several aspects, a whole lot of aspects in that sense. We’ve been in the game as long as we have, and it’s like a new twist: we’re comin’ with a twist. There are different angles you can look at [it from], why we’re sayin’ we’re the world’s enemy here on this project. Like you say, there’s obstacles – there are four of us here now, sometimes it’s three. There’s a lot of internal situations goin’ on, but nonetheless it’s Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Throughout all the odds, [we’re] the world’s enemy, and we’re still makin’ it nonetheless, strivin’ to do what we do best, man.
DJ Booth: That’s a great parlay into my next question, because the first featured song of the new album that made its way onto our homepage was the Lyfe Jennings-assisted “See Me Shine.” In a nutshell, really, the song is about overcoming those obstacles, and the people who don’t wanna see you succeed. So, being that you guys have persevered for so long, what have you done to stand up against adversity, and succeed?
Wish: Keep it real, put God first.
Layzie: It’s all about the combination, man. Anything you try to accomplish, you’re gonna have to face some type of adversity, but we just stay persistent at what we do and understand that the key to success is persistence. We just keep on pushin’ and pushin’, man, even when we’ve got that much opposition against us. We just never give up.
DJ Booth: Now, obviously, you guys have seen your fair share of adversity over the course of your collective recording career. Do you ever stop to think: what might our stuff sound like if it was a walk in the park, if things weren’t so difficult, if we didn’t have all these problems?
Layzie: If we didn’t face the things that we faced, we wouldn’t be rappin’ about what we’re rappin’ about, you know what I mean? Like, these obstacles were put in front of us for a reason, and we understand that. So that’s what builds that character, that’s what makes Bone Thugs Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. So, we welcome a challenge at any time. We’re gonna keep welcoming a challenge, and we don’t want it easy, because anything worth havin’ is worth workin’ for. So that’s what it is, man. It builds character within. That’s why Bone Thugs is still strong.
DJ Booth: Just for fun, though, let’s say everything was smooth; everything was goin’ great, you had all five members, all on great terms, no issues whatsoever. What would there be to talk about in the music? Would you have to try to pull back from some of the older stuff?
Layzie: Nah, not really… I guess we’d just be rappin’ happy.
Flesh: We still have fun with it regardless, period, though. We still have a good time with it and have fun with it. We’re kids at heart with it. At the same time we’re adults, grown men, with wives and children and the whole nine yards, and obviously the situation’s gonna be there, and all these adversities, whatever you wanna call it, obstacles, it’s just fuel for the music. We’re sittin’ on a goldmine of topics, based upon our experience and our history.
DJ Booth: Well, let’s talk about an obstacle of a completely different nature, and that’s, when you have five artists and they all need to be heard on a record, and you don’t want the record to be seven, eight, nine minutes long, how do you guys go about divvying up space in terms of the verses on a song, so that everybody is heard, they all have their chance to shine, but it doesn’t become a really long, drawn-out record?
Layzie: Basically, man, we just cut down our verses. Like, even on this album, we wanted to make sure that all five of us was on damn near every song, so what we did was, we came up with the concept of the “uni-verse,” which is all five of us really chain-rapping a 16 – all of us sharin’ a 16 as opposed to havin’ 16’s apiece. So, there’s plenty of ways to get around it: we can shorten the verses – instead of 16 bars it could be eight bars, it could be 12 bars. We don’t really have a problem with that, ‘cause there’s really no egos in Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, so if we all don’t make it on the song sometimes, it’s really not a big deal.
DJ Booth: Does that make the recording process go longer, ‘cause you kinda have to figure it all out before you go into the studio or, at this point you guys have figured it out, and it’s just bing-bang-boom?
Flesh: Yeah, that’s just part of the process. It ain’t a long recording process. Everything is gonna take some amount of time, and we really really are very meticulous about what we do, and perfectionists at what we do, and it really don’t matter how long it takes for us to go in and do what we do. We’re just in there to work and make sure we perfect what we’re doing. Bang-bing-bang!
DJ Booth: [laughs] Bing-bang-boom! Since the quintet, prior to this recording had never previously recorded a complete album together, was chemistry ever an issue during the creation of the project?
Layzie: Not at all, man. Like you said, we’ve been together all our lives. Our chemistry is just there; it’s like, when you play for a team so long, you know the other players on a team, how they feel, what they like, and what they don’t like. So, you know, our chemistry is always clickin’.
DJ Booth: Guys, “Meet Me in the Sky,” one of the newest records that I’ve heard from the forthcoming album, follows a life-after-death theme. Based on the record, can one of you compare and contrast the beginning of your career and now, in terms of how often you might think of or analyze death?
Flesh: Wow… think of and analyze death?
DJ Booth: Yeah. In terms of where you were at at the time when you first started that career, where do you fall on that line now, being that your life is so different than it was in 1991, ‘92?
Krayzie: Well, first of all, that song, “Meet Me in the Sky,” a lot of people misinterpret the song, ‘cause we’re not really actually talkin’ about life after death. What we’re talkin’ about is, again, all the people that’s tried to hold us down, and all the haters that hate on us. We’re tellin’ them that they can never reach us, ‘cause we’re flyin’ in the sky, and they can’t hate us on the ground. Basically just sayin’ we’re on a high that they can never bring us down from.
DJ Booth: I think the video threw me for a loop there.
Layzie: Flyin’ above the haters, man, all our opposition. We’re lookin’ down at the game, we feel like we’re on a whole ‘nother plateau, a whole ‘nother level.
DJ Booth: Are you guys wearin’ jetpacks, or no?
Layzie: No, we got 747 wings, man – we got real rockets, you know?
DJ Booth: Are those expensive? Would I be able to borrow one from time to time, or no?
Wish: [laughs] As long as you fill it back up when you bring it back.
DJ Booth: [laughs] You know, with gas right now, I don’t know about that. We’re gonna take a few reader questions, guys. The first comes from Jonathan from Beijing, China – it’s no surprise; you guys have fans all around the world – and Jonathan wrote, “I’m intrigued at the new approach you guys are taking, appealing to a more mainstream audience with a few of your new records. During the recording, were you concerned at all that fans of your old-school material might be turned off by this new sound.
Layzie: Not, really – not at all, man. ‘Cause we feel like, as we grow, our fans should grow with us. Our music is from the heart, from real-life experiences and really, out of love is where our topics come from, so whoever really don’t dig it, that’s basically on them. We really don’t entertain that.
Wish: We can’t rap about bein’ on the block, and cars, and big-booty women and all that. We rap from the heart – we bring real music. We ain’t on the block anymore. We ain’t sellin’ dope and all that stuff anymore, so how can we rap about it like that? That would be totally fake, and usin’ the gift that we have in the wrong manner.
DJ Booth: I agree. Second question, guys, comes from David of Crown Point, Indiana, and David wrote, “After executive producing your last album, Strength and Loyalty, do you still maintain a relationship with Swizz Beatz and, if so, did he at all contribute material to the new project?
Layzie: We definitely maintain a relationship with Swizz. Swizz looked out for us when nobody didn’t really wanna look out for us, so that brotherly love is always there. We wasn’t really able to bring Swizz in on this particular project, but we do plan on continuing to work with Swizz here and there. We’ve got a hundred songs with him, so that’s a relationship that’s not gonna go nowhere. This album was more of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, rekindling the flame of how we originally started.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. Now guys, I read two reader questions, but those are two from a whole stack full of them. It’s amazing to me how loyal your fanbase truly is, even on forums and on different websites where I see fans comment about your material; they get really defensive, as if every single fan is almost like a sixth member of the group. Is it amazing to you guys how loyal your fans are?
Flesh: You hit the nail in the coffin right there. That’s a cult following, a solid fanbase, and that’s a real gift, man – not everybody has that. We’ve been blessed to have that, and that’s a real blessing. It is real amazing, and we’re humble and grateful for that.
Wish: It’s something about telling the truth, and how it actually reaches and touches people.
DJ Booth: You know, I jokingly tell people this: when you meet someone, you’re not supposed to talk about three things: sex, politics, and religion. I, a long time ago, added Bone Thugs-N-Harmony into that grouping, ‘cause people get defensive about it. You cannot argue with someone who thinks they know their Bone Thugs.
Layzie: That’s right.
DJ Booth: Well, as always, guys, it’s a pleasure to get you on the phone and do an interview, and does someone wanna give a website or a social network, so they can find out more about you guys and your tour?
Layzie: Yeah. They can check us out at bonethugsnharmony.com, you can go there for all the information you need on Bone.
DJ Booth: Great. Well, thank you guys so much for taking the time to join me inside the DJ Booth for the interview, and as always, nothing but the best of luck, fellas.
Bone Thugs: Thanks a lot, bro!