Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Part IV - Music



Ladies and gentlemen, this is the biggest freakin' interview I've ever done. Here it is 1,400 more words, and I still have four pages to go. Wow.

We had a great time during the interview, but by the end I could tell they had to get out of there. We were all checking our smart phones and doing quick text messages to the people we had to see later.

I've learned to ask a lot less questions, and to keep it down to just the pure, necessary details a reader would want: the latest album, the tour, and what the artists are planning for the future. After that I ask other questions to mix it up.

Still, things got very conversational, so you are getting an interview that's as close to the straight truth as you can get.
...
When you look at your careers, and all the things you’ve all done on your own, this is obviously a bunch of guys who have strong personalities and strong intelligences, and each person wants to do something differently, like fingers on a hand pointing in a different direction. But with Uni5 you’ve all come together, like a fist, and that’s a pretty significant event, for your fans. 




Layzie Bone: That’s what I've been saying about Bone Thugs for the last ten years. You take the pain, and then you come together and that’s a mighty blow. That’s so odd that you mention that, because it’s always been one of my analogies.

I’m sitting here thinking that today is November 23rd, 2009, and November 23rd, 1993 was the day that all of us came over on a bus to California with one-way bus tickets to make it. That was sixteen years ago.

That took an incredible amount of faith. Did you really think it was going to work out, when you got on that bus?

Layzie Bone: I woke up this morning and cherished the day because I always remember calling that day out. I told everyone, “Fuck this, homie, we have to go.” I borrowed some money and flipped a few things and saved up, and told everyone that we had to go. We stuck to it. And to sit here now, sixteen years later to this day, I really woke up with a whole ‘nother mind set today. There’s going to be sixteen more.

When I read about that it was very inspirational. You guys just went for it, and now you're here. That kind of story gives people hope. There is probably an artist in the middle of the country thinking, “How am I going to get out of here. How am I going to do this?”




Ta Smallz: My own mother came out here to do what Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and many people from the Midwest want to do and she got murdered trying to do that. So it’s ironic that I was out there, and now I’ve come out here to after meeting these gentlemen and then I get to fulfill my dream but also to fulfill the dream my mother had, so I think this was meant to be.

Well, you made it, you’re alive, right?

Ta Smallz: That’s what my album is about. Who Killed My Momma? is about how no matter how bad it gets you don’t have to go out and kill anyone, you can believe and make it.

Layzie Bone: But if they fuck with your money, bust their motherfuckin’ heads!

(Everyone laughs.)

Layzie Bone: Naw, I’m just playin’, I’m just having fun…

Now with this album, are you going in a new direction, are you sticking with your roots, because every album is a new creation, and some artists want to get experimental, but they also want to let the audience know that they are still real. What do you think the album is going to say?

Layzie Bone: I think people are going to say that Bone Thugs-n-Harmony stuck with their roots on 50% of the album, but they are also going to say that Bone Thugs expanded from where they were in the 90’s. We’ve grown but kept it in the family.

Thin C produced six of the tracks but you got DSP, ALT Hutton, Kind David, Post, so with that being said we kept it in house so we could grow. We dipped into a new thing we call the Uni-verse where all five of us could become one and share. We’re all doing our own thing but this is classic Bone Thugs but it’s also that new millennium shit, too.

A lot of reason why Bone Thugs became a very unique rap group is because you were very original. Thin C and Ta Smallz and I were talking about that earlier. How original bands influence later bands, whether it's blues, rock and roll or hip-hop. 




When people describe why they like Bone Thugs it’s because all of your voices would come together in harmony, in unity, and that’s a big reason why your band still has an original sound. Not a lot of groups did that, at the time.

Ta Smallz: Well, there’s a big difference between finding and discovering. Discovering is just, well, I discovered that box over there. But when Bone Thugs came in they invented a whole new style. So people just discovered that they can do the style that Bone Thugs invented. You see what I’m saying? But they are the inventors, they did something no one else did.

Layzie Bone: And to add to that our music is like right now. Everything on the radio…we’ve already done it. With our music is our collective experience, everything each of us have done in a collective effort. And when you listen to the radio all of that is just Bone Thugs. It’s everything we did in ’97 and ’98.

All of the music right now is just us back then. So now we’re taking that formula and mashing it all up so you might have Nelly doing it like Bone Thugs but there’s also that dude from Miami…nigga’s tight…Flo Rida…it might remind you of Bone Thugs but it’s different forms and fashions of what Bone Thugs does.


The five of us are bringing our characteristics together over the years but we’re also just giving you a layout of what’s on the radio, what they’re used to now.

You guys changed music forever. There’s no doubt about that. And there are a lot of bands that have sounded like you over the years. Are you proud of that, or do you feel like they ripped you off? 

Layzie Bone: No, it’s an honor to get ripped off. Because it means that what we gave to music can never be erased. It’s a place in time in history. And by history I mean that you can always refer to the records and see who did what first.

So by us being leaders in that category in can never be anything but a compliment because during Bone’s quiet time we had cats on the radio doing Bone’s style, which kept us relevant. So they allowed us to take time, restructure our music and come back to dominate our category.

When people listen to music they always go back to find the influences, whether its rock, blues, jazz or metal. So when people listen to what’s out there they are going to go back and find the influence. And they’ll say, “Oh, that’s just like Bone Thugs.” So they’ll buy a couple of albums and listen to you, and then go out and buy your new album.

Ta Smallz: I think the new album is that they switching up on the 16’s and doing stuff like that, but there’s a lot of determination. I did a song called “Let Yourself Go.” We put it on the album, on the single, and played it in the streets but it’s a whole new direction.

With the melodies we’ve put together it shows the smooth side of Bone, and the fans are going to love the record. 50% of it is old Bone but when you are an innovator you have to go out there and do new styles and I think they did that with the music, the melody and the beats.


When you are an innovator you have to keep innovating. But how do you think the world is going to react to the new album? It’s kind of scary, because in just one more month it’s out.

Thin C: I think that Bones fans are gonna love it, and I think that new fans are going to receive it for the simple fact that life right now is no amusement park, and the fact that Bone music has always been based on reality and what’s going on. I think that Uni5: The World’s Enemy is going to create a big draw.

Ta Smallz: You have to remember they’ve been playing for nearly seventeen years. Half of the fans in the crowd weren’t even born when they came out. They weren’t even around when “Crossroads” came out but they can sing it word for word. They’re reaching out to a young audience because the message is so powerful.

Layzie Bone: Just like we were with Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson and all that our parents were into that music and we were jumping that. Now parents are playing our music for their kids and it shows its generational music.


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