My idea of the perfect interview involves me not saying a whole lot while the artist gets to express their viewpoint with as much freedom as possible. I usually have to stick with what I call the musical interview trinity (the band's new album, the current tour, and either what they think about the city they are playing in, or what their plans are for the future), but I figure that a fan wants to read the band's words, not mine.
When I interviewed Bone Thugs-n-Harmony I ended up asking a lot of questions. We had a good time during the interview, and everyone there gave me a lot to work with, so by the time I was done typing it all out I ended up with more than 7,000 words.
The article only required 1,250 words, so I had to throw out a lot, which was a shame because Thin C and Ta Smallz were great people to talk to. Now that I have my own blog, I can post the entire, exclusive interview for fans to read.
On November 23, 1993 five guys with a dream took a one-way bus ticket out of Cleveland, Ohio to Los Angeles with the complete intent to get discovered, make music and become one of the most prolific hip-hop acts in the United States.
Sixteen years later they've played with every legend in the rap business, starting with Easy E, and their albums have been certified platinum and multi-platinum by the RIAA. When the Great Big Book of Hip-Hop is finally written, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are sure to get their own chapter.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony changed the game with melodic harmonies and a fast-paced delivery that could be as harsh as cordite or as sweet as honey, but whether they wrapped about violence, good times, bad times, getting by or getting high, they’ve always been true to their music.
Uni5: The World's Enemy, will be released on February 9, 2010. The entire group, including Layzie Bone, Crayzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone, Flesh and Bone will tour together to promote the album. Thin C and Ta Smallz will also join the band on the road.
Bone Thugs has been around for a long time. Your albums have gone platinum and multi-platinum in the last sixteen years and you’ve seen it all. How do you think hip-hop has changed since your first album?
Layzie Bone: The whole state of hip-hop has really been elevated to a whole ‘nother level with the introduction of the Internet and with everything being so viral. When I first started, it was just the tip of the iceberg. Now hip-hop is a global phenomenon…it’s taken over the whole world since when we first started.
Ta Smallz: The coverage used to be very basic, but now you can see it everywhere, in car commercials, to President Obama making references to hip-hop in his speeches.
Ta Smallz: I think it’s important as artist that since we are in such a position to speak to so many people, it’s our job to say the right things and talk about the right situations…to influence things on a positive level.
I noticed that a lot of your later albums focused on family a lot more.
Layzie Bone: Yes. But the industry has also changed in that the artists have a lot more power. Using the Internet, you can reach the globe. You can get your music on a large number of sites. Before we had to pass out tapes and send it out through the mail.
Thin C: Now you don’t have to hang up posters, you can just string something up on YouTube.
Ta Smallz: We used to have to pass out a whole bunch of fliers, but now you can just send out an e-vite.
Layzie Bone: But now an artist is not prepared for a long career. It can be very short-lived. Before you used to sign a seven album deal, now you are lucky to get a single deal. That’s why a lot of artists choose to be independent. My friend Big Bob always says, “TV is the new radio, and the Internet is the new TV.”
Ta Smallz: You used to have to get your music played on the radio. Now, you can just drop it on the Internet. Now you can put it out on MySpace, Facebook and let people hear it. You don’t need the big stations.
Layzie Bone: A prime example of that is Jennifer Lopez. She premiered her new single on the TV at the AMA awards. She didn’t have to premier it on the radio. The big companies premier their shit on the television. It’s been that way for a while.
Ta Smallz: Another thing is BET might premier something but at the same time drop it on the Internet. Before anyone has watched it there might already be a million hits.
Layzie Bone: That’s what I’m talking about because with the Internet I’m on the motherfucker like a drug. (Laughs) I’m on that all day.
Thin C: There’s a lot of advertising, a lot of self-promotion, you have that now with the artist because of the Internet. Before you had to go to a big company but now the artist can express themselves and get people to notice them.
To be continued in Part II.