Photo by Patrick O'Dell
If you're anything like me, you weren't a fan of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony when they first came out. We were too busy figuring out the lyrics to Bootcamp's "Leflaur Leflah" to care about these tongue-flipping Midwesterners with perms and funny shower caps. Truth be told, it wasn't until their collabo with Biggie that East Coast diehards fully understood Bone's greatness. Then it dawned on us that they had already earned a Grammy and about 30 million records sold for their groundbreaking fusion of gangsta rap and, well, barbershop. Oops.
Once you get familiar with the Mo Thugs universe, you realize that although Bizzy and Layzie are the charismatic frontmen of the group and Wish's got the coolest look, it's Krayzie who's actually the crew's backbone. This dude is mind-blowing—just peep his cameos on Lil Jon's "We Don't Give a Fuck" or dead prez's "Walk Like a Warrior." Since Bone Thugs have gone through the worst label drama imaginable, every major rapper they've collaborated with has basically died, and cats like R. Kelly and Nelly basically took their signature flow and ran with it, one could understand why these guys spent the last few years going a little postal. Thankfully, as Krayzie attests, the Bone brothers are now harmonizing their way back to sanity.
VICE: How did you become Krayzie?
Krayzie Bone: We all named each other back in the day. When we was young, we was real crazy, you know? We was wild. I named Layzie. One day I was like, "You should be called Layzie Bone" and he was like, "You should be Krayzie Bone." Just like that.
What's your craziest memory from that era, before you guys became huge?
Probably when I shot my partner Wish Bone [pictured above with Krayzie] in the leg with a 12-gauge by mistake. I had to go to prison for that. We was out on the streets trying to survive, trying to rob niggas or whatever, we was drunk at the time, and you know I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing so I accidentally pulled the trigger on the gun and it shot him in his leg, you know what I'm saying, a 12-gauge, at point-blank. He was in the driver's seat and I was in the passenger seat and I had the gun laying across my lap, just drunk out of my mind. I clicked the barrel up and the gun went off and shot him right in the leg. That was the craziest thing that ever happened to my life. He never pressed charges on me, but the state picked it up. In Ohio, having a sawed-off shotgun is illegal. I think it's like that in a lot of states.
Through all of Bone Thugs' tribulations, how did you manage to stay sane?
It was real hard to maintain. Your mind's really got to stay stable to go through the situations that we been through. First it was Eazy E dying of AIDS. That was the most craziest thing ever cuz we had just got signed and we spent the whole year with him before he died. He got us bus tickets from Cleveland to Los Angeles. We really wasn't into flying back then. Really, we didn't know nothing about flying, so we was like, "It ain't no thing, we'll take the bus." Two days later, he picked us up from the hotel and took us to the studio and we was in there everyday. Much love to Eazy E, man, that's who got us in the game, but after he died, things just wasn't the same. People was trying to treat us like we didn't know what was going on, you know, trying to keep us down. We had to depend on the label whenever we needed something. We would've gotten into some real gangsta shit if we was still signed to Ruthless Records.
And then came all the biters.
It's a lot of rappers singing now. A lot of rappers. But I don't get caught up in all that little beef stuff, that shit is for teenagers. Niggas that's out here with kids and families, they shouldn't even be thinking about nothing like that. A real man gonna let it slide. When you're moving to all these different cities where you don't really know who is who, the last thing you need is drama. Once you get into drama and you're famous, everybody know how you look, all your enemies know who you are, but you don't know who all your enemies are. So like Jesus said, you got to turn the other cheek, man.
That's real talk. So you're a changed man?
My state of mind is real different. I done been through a lot of crazy situations that I created for myself in the past, and a lot of stuff is catching up to me, to the point that I just got to step up and deal with it. Like, I know it's been in the papers about me having child-support issues, going to jail for child support or whatever. But I'm a lot smarter now. I done gave up the weed. I really never drank a lot, but I keep that to a minimum. I was just spiritually weak, you know what I'm saying? I had to fix that. I'm a Bible student with Jehovah's Witnesses right now, so I've been trying to turn everything around.
That can be a long road, but you already got past that crime life years ago.
Well, you know, I been in the game for 12 years, and I been off the streets for almost that long, so it wouldn't be real for me to talk about "I'm still on the block, still robbin' niggas" and doing this and that anyway. I know I'm not doing that because I'm an entertainer. My face is on TV everywhere. So that takes care of me having to worry about crime or whatever. It just ain't a concern. If I did do some dumb shit like that, I would be in jail, for real.
I know where I come from, it's good to tell your story, but when I see the artists that's doing it today it's like they bragging. We used to do it back in the day, too, bragging about selling dope or shooting people, but now when you really look at it, it's really just stupidity. You look back and you be like, "Man, why is we glorifying situations like that?" God gotta really be looking at us like, "Damn, y'all really think this is going to lead to your salvation?"
So you think that God isn't cool with bragging about shooting and robbing.
I believe that God is going to step in at any time to this world and make a very drastic change. I'm not even really stressing this whole life and this business like I used to do, like chasing the money. We're not where we're supposed to be financially, but I could care less if I get filthy rich or not at this point.
Krayzie Bone's solo LP Gemini: Good Vs Evil is out now on Ball'r Records. You can also catch him on Bizzy and Layzie's Bone Brothers album, out on Koch.