Bizzy Says He & Krayzie Are The Ones Capable Of Creating New Waves For Bone Thugs (Video)
One year ago, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony released “Coming Home.” The reunion single came just days following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first NBA title crown. In the 52 years between championships across major sports in Cleveland, one of its other symbols of success with Bone Thugs. Winning Grammy’s, dominating the charts, changing the trends in Rap music, the five-man collective gave people a message in their music, and gave them hope as an entity.
Currently, the Cleveland Cavs are preparing to battle for another Eastern Conference title, its fourth in a decade. Fittingly, Bone Thugs (a duo of Bizzy Bone and Krayzie Bone) released the video version of “Coming Home,” featuring Stephen Marley. The song sends a message to its city, and also the millions of fans worldwide who can relate to B.T.N.H.’s values of loyalty, pride, and respect.
Speaking with Ambrosia For Heads Krazyie Bone notes the changes in his hometown off of Lake Erie. Quite a bit is different since the days when he and his band-mates boarded a bus headed to meet Eazy-E at Ruthless Records 25 years ago, while other traits remain the same. “The city has changed a lot. A lot of the changes… in a lot of cases, it’s gotten worse. I go back to my old neighborhood and I see all the houses that’s boarded up. It’s so crazy how it looks in the ‘hood now. It’s definitely declined a lot,” Krayzie says. “Part of Cleveland has fixed itself up. It’s looking way different than before, like the Downtown area. They’re fixing it all up down there. But in the neighborhoods, it’s pretty much the same…or worse.”
“Coming Home” is the first single to New Waves, the Bone Thugs’ debut joint project coming this summer. While Korn’s Jonathan Davis is an unexpected guest on the new album, members of Bone Thugs have melded their sounds with unexpected pairings in the past. On 2001 single “Hard Time Hustling,” they incorporated vocals from a Sade record. Said to be the first time the elusive Nigerian-born singer approved a sample (“Feel No Pain”) for a Rap record, the video single resonated within Bone circles. “First of all, I think Sade is an amazing artist; I always have,” said Krayzie. “Ever since I heard her music for the first time, I was a fan. It’s just crazy; she’s the kind of artist that can come out with an album every 10 years, but whenever she drops, it’s a #1 album. So that’s what kind of artist she is,” he continues. “At the time, she hadn’t ever done anything with a Hip-Hop artist. I don’t even know if she was a fan of Hip-Hop. When she heard the song, there was something she liked about the song. It made her clear the song. When I first did the song, everybody was like, ‘We not gonna get this cleared. It’ll never happen; she’s never cleared anything, especially for Hip-Hop.’ We just went in [with] fingers crossed. She showed us love.” As it appeared on Krayzie’s gold-certified Thug On Da Line, the song “featured” Sade, albeit a sample of her own ’92 single. “It was a song about actual things that I went through, lived through. It wasn’t no fictional story. It was a real-deal story.”
That brand of gold and platinum success Krayzie has enjoyed, as well as Bizzy’s solo achievements, makes Bone Thugs a powerful side project in the group catalog and in the eyes of supporters from the group’s zenith. “A lot of the projects that you heard besides this had more of a mixtape vibe to it. It never really had a worldwide, Grammy Award-type status, vibe, and mood. We went bigger. We went stronger. At the time, we’re just as relevant—if not more than what we was [in the mid-1990s]. We’ve been putting it up on the road for about seven years straight, and rebuilding the fan-base one person at a time. I think all of that stuck together and you get something real special,” Bizzy Bone explains. At times in the 2000s, Bizzy left the group, but always returned. He believes he and Kray’ have an especially strong product, even within their collective. “Plus, it’s Krayzie and Bizzy Bone; if there’s any two members of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony that’s gonna give you a record, that’s gonna be Krayzie and Bizzy Bone.” He expounds, “What we’ve been able to accomplish as far as his solo career and my solo career…we really were the only ones to put out records. He did Thug Mentality  and I did Heaven’z Movie. Both of those records did very well, and we started building our personal fan bases mainly from that. What do you know, [now] we’re working with [former Relativity Records-now-eOne CEO Alan Grunblatt] that we did those major records with. It’s just a winning formula.”
While Bone Thugs is a side-project, Wish Bone, Layzie Bone, and Flesh-n-Bone do appear on the album’s title track, which has a music video coming. “With this record, it was such a solid record with just Kray’ and I and the guest appearances that…there was just something missing. Kray’ and I, we’re ‘brand’ kinda guys. We’re like, ‘Let’s make sure that we put [effort] back into the brand. Let’s make sure we give back; that’ll give back to the fans,’ but that this record reflects where we are, artistically—all of us as one,” he says. “Well, without [Wish Bone, Layzie Bone, and Flesh-n-Bone’s] voices, it would just be hearsay. [‘New Waves’], also being the title track of the album, it just makes sense. It’s home, you know what I mean? It’s root-based, ground, core.”
Having referenced his 1998 solo debut as a benchmark album, Bizzy spoke about one particular Heaven’z Movie producer. Johnny J was known for his work with Tupac Shakur including hits “How Do U Want It,” “All About U,” and original version to posthumous hit “Until The End Of Time.” Following Shakur’s 1996 death, Johnny Jackson would slowly begin his exit from Death Row. Following that tenure, one of the biggest artists to recruit the Mexican-American producer/rapper was Bizzy. Prince-inspired “Thugz Cry” was a single the men created together, and an important part of the album’s success (reaching gold certification, debuting at #3 independently). In 2008, a decade later, Johnny J died while serving jail time for a DUI.
In recalling the underrated producer, Bizzy says “Johnny J was a warrior! I’m just gonna tell you: he was a warrior. He wasn’t no punk; I’ll tell you that much. He got into it with my security as one of my fondest memories of him…he held his own, and stood his ground,” the rapper said. Next, Bizzy confirms reports that there is unheard material between the two artists. “We got a lot more music, also. I think I have an entire record with just Johnny J that I never even put out yet. It is phenomenal. There’s some stuff on there that is wow, and it was back then! Johnny J was an expensive producer, so I could only get so many songs with Johnny J or I would have been totally over-budget…May he rest in peace. His daughter, she is a great artist! I got her on a record with me. I keep up with them kinda people; you don’t let those kind of connections go.”
In the last two months, Biggie Smalls’ Life After Death, and in turn, “Notorious Thugs” turns 20 years old, both Krayie and Bizzy reflect. “It’s a timeless record, definitely. I think when everybody hears it—even today, it makes you move. That’s a hell of a song. We was blessed to get that in with [Notorious] B.I.G. before he passed. I think it’s a song that everybody’s gonna love for a long, long time.” Bizzy describes what he hears in the track 20 years after it was recorded. “I hear the same excitement that I heard when it first came on, but a respect within it. Because, it’s like…they still say that these lyrics in the song is up to date. The beat is strong. You already know that Mr. Combs is one of the best producers, ever. People don’t give him the credit, but what he did with that record was phenomenal. Amazing. Of course, Stevie J [too]. That’s what I hear now.”
Coming soon, New Waves is slated to feature a video for each song on the album.