Nearly 20 years in the game, Cleveland's Bone Thugs N Harmony will forever remain an important part of hip-hop history thanks to their timeless classics and often-imitated style. The five Bone Thugs (Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Krayzie Bone, Flesh N Bone, and Wish Bone) managed to harmonize their raps with one another in a mixture of gospel-tinged crooning, rapid-fire spitting and smooth voicing that created a number of huge hits. The group's members have not always been together as a team due to issues such as money disputes and prison time, and it sounds as though Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone and Flesh N Bone will be the remaining members for Sunday's show. Gimme Noise caught up with Layzie Bone to talk about their show at Epic.
Gimme Noise: What can people expect to hear on Sunday?
LB: It's a lot of resurrected songs that we've never really performed that a lot of fans over the years have been asking us to perform. Street theme songs like "Servin' The Fiends", and then uplifting songs like "The Righteous Ones", those type of songs that was on BTNHResurrection. People love those particular songs so we're trying to bring it to them. We've added the element of a live band over the last couple tours, and we're playing different songs that we've never had the chance to play. We did a lot of spot dates but [2010's E. 1999 Eternal Tour] was the first time we went nationwide [with the live band]. Now this is the second time, for the resurrection, celebrating 10 years since the Resurrection album. It's a five-piece band: We got the trumpet, we got the lead guitar, we got the keyboard, we got the bass keys, and we got the drums. Man, it's just awesome. When the music comes to life, it's just drama. You know, it's intense, man, it's energy. It's off the hook.
GN: Krayzie Bone recently announced he's no longer with the group. What's the story behind that?
LB: We had a difference over the business, about which venture to take at that particular time. We always have our differences, you know what I'm saying, but I know this too will come to pass. A lot of people over-read what's happening with Bone Thugs N Harmony, and this ain't the first time Krayzie has stepped away from the group, but I think it's all love, man. We had a difference over some business and we had to step away from each other and do separate things for a minute. Sometimes that happens.
GN: What was it like to have all the original members in the studio again for your latest album Uni-5: The World's Enemy?
LB: The energy was through the roof. That's the glue that keeps us together and bonded and able to get over all the obstacles that we go through as a family. Bone is family, man. There's obstacles that are sometimes in the way but we always overcome it. Like I said, we really family. We came up together in the early 80's. Flesh N Bone is my brother and Wish Bone is my first cousin; Krayzie Bone, I been knowin' him since I was in seventh grade back in '86. Bizzy Bone is the youngest Bone... We all came together through our lives, through our parents, school, and things like that; we've been through it all together.
GN: Your first big break came from being signed to Ruthless Records by Eazy E in 1994. It's clear you're continuing to uphold his legacy by touring with his son. How has it been touring with Lil' Eazy E?
LB: Lil' Eazy E is a natural, man. It's always a pleasure to take the stage with him. I always get that chill, feeling like his father is there in the room. He got his Loc's on, bustin' them raps, it's all love man. Lil' E gonna do his thing, and we gonna bring a lot when we hit the stage. He looks just like his pops, just a shade browner. Same build, he's a little taller, but it's like Eazy E is in the room, for real.
GN: Vibe recently asked readers to rank their all-time favorite hip-hop song, and Bone Thugs' hit single "Crossroads" came out on top as the number one. Did you have any idea that song would have such an impact 15 years down the line?
LB: That's an honor that cements the Bone Thugs N Harmony legacy in hip-hop. It's an honor that people even listen to your music and can appreciate it. I remember the days when we were on that grind and folks wasn't listenin', so we had to put in a lot of work to get there too. I didn't really get the whole picture [when it was first recorded] the way that I understand it now. I was kinda naive, young, doin' my thing and livin' life, not really payin' attention to a lot of things, but now I see it clearly, and it's really a blessing to have music that touches people's souls and to go all over the world and share it with people. People tell you that you changed their lives and helped them through the hard times. There's so many ways that people can be touched by music, it's amazing that this was such a worldwide phenomenon.
GN: Bone Thugs' rapping style manages to be smooth and melodic while still being incredibly fast. How did this style come about?
LB: It was just over the years we developed as artists. We started out as kids, singing and doing New Edition, copying Run DMC... All that time, we were singers and rappers at the same time, and over time it just started mixing with each other. We found out we were actually harmonizing with each other. It was just a blessing. It wasn't nothin' we planned on doing, we were just doing what we were into. We wanted to be articulate and put a lot of words in a bar; we were just trying to be creative. That's what hip-hop is, just being creative. Being articulate and telling stories, being witty with words, metaphors and things like that; we just tried to bring the art to life, and that's our contribution. It's good that everybody tries to do what Bone does, it's something fun to do. It's a challenge, you know, it ain't the average. You gotta really have skill to really be able to do that.
BONE THUGS N HARMONY play with Lil Eazy E this SUNDAY, JUNE 12 at EPIC. 18+. $25. 8 p.m.