Krayzie Bone is feeling like a winner. And why shouldn’t he? His native Cleveland is welcoming its freakishly gifted native son LeBron James back to rock the Cavaliers’ crimson and gold. The 40-year-old speed spitter’s long-gestating Chasing The Devil album is set for release tomorrow (July 22). And the final Bone Thugs-n-Harmony double LP, E. 1999/Legends, celebrating 20 years of Bone Thugs, will be sold singular, in an auction beginning at $1 million. The approach mirrors the album release strategy of the same Wu-Tang Clan (Upon A Time In Shaolin) that Bone Thugs usurped in VIBE’s fan-voted Greatest Rap Group (Since ‘93) Tournament.
VIBE stepped into the winners circle with Krayzie Bone, chopping it up about the possibility of a Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Wu-Tang Clan collaboration LP, Chasing The Devil, challenging Eminem, predictions for LeBron’s Cavs and why he’ll be watching the N.W.A. biopic with squinted eyes. —John Kennedy
VIBE: First things first—congratulations on Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s victory in VIBE’s Greatest Rap Group (Since ‘93) Tournament! How does it feel to still be celebrated the way you are in the history of rap?
Krayzie Bone: Man, it’s a great feeling and it’s really a blessing for us to be looked at as one of the greatest groups who’ve ever done it. That’s a blessing in itself, because not many groups even exist today. It really makes us feel like what we did and the bricks we laid down weren’t in vain. Because it actually stuck with a lot of people. It actually meant something to a lot of people. It’s like planted in a part of hip-hop history now.
After you guys defeated Wu-Tang Clan for the championship, you posted an Instagram image of artwork for a hypothetical collaboration project with the Wu.
Yeah. It was actually fan-made. After I thanked all the fans for voting for us, somebody posted that and I was like, this is dope. I was just putting it out there so everybody could see it and start wanting it. The response was crazy.
Do you think that kind of project could ever happen?
Man, we have never had the opportunity to connect and do something with Wu-Tang. But I’m good friends with RZA and Method; the other cats I haven’t got to hang out with as much. Met Raekwon a couple of times, he’s cool. Met Ghostface, but you know—every time I talk to RZA and Meth we talk about doing something. It’s long overdue. It’s just getting everyone’s schedules together and actually making it happen. We’ve talked about it; everybody is down. I have ideas, because it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’d like to start off with a Bone and Wu cypher—get everybody warmed up and just kill it. That’d be crazy.
You’re getting ready to drop your own album, which is also long overdue. What should we expect from Chasing The Devil?
Expect to be educated—the usual from Bone. We gon’ give them some knowledge, we gon’ take it to the street: great stories, concepts, dramatic... I’m putting it together like an audio movie; you can put the CD on and get lost into it. I’m having three volumes and I’m going to release them separately. So it’s going to be different concepts for each album. Everybody is going to be able to relate to this album.
What’s the lead single?
“Chasing Nightmares.” You know the saying, “I’m chasing my dreams.” The song is basically like, I thought I was chasing a dream, but it turned into a nightmare once I caught it. You think everything is going to be pleasant, money is going to solve all these problems but a catch comes with it. This industry messes a lot of people's lives up because they sacrifice and they give their lives up and when they get [success], they’re like, “Man, I did all of this and it wasn’t even worth it.” That’s basically what inspired that song. It’s a crazy one, too, trust me.
Are you looking into any features?
Well on the first album, there aren’t going to be any guests except for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. On the second and third, I’m going to have some features. I talked to Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole, A$AP Mob. I got verbal confirmations from these people so I’m just waiting to see if it goes through and we can make it happen.
It’s so dope to see the mark and influence Bone Thugs has had on today’s generation of artists, from the folks you just named to others.
Yeah, I think that’s important for music. I’ve always felt like the older generation and the newer generations should always bridge that gap in music. I like what A$AP Mob is doing. They even said that they based the whole way that they named themselves and some of the music that they do was influenced by us. I see a lot of people doing our style that I think sound good doing it: Drake, Nicki Minaj. And it ain’t just rapping fast; it’s the harmonies and all that stuff.
What made want to record your own version of Eminem’s “Rap God?”
I’m just a student of hip-hop. I think Eminem is a beast, one of the deadliest MCs you’d ever listen to. A few fans were telling me, “If anybody can rap on [‘Rap God’] and make it sound good, it’s you.” So I did it, let a few people hear it. I was just going to put it in the vault like I do a lot of stuff, but people that heard it were like, “You gotta put this out ASAP.” I’m glad I did.
How does it feel to see your home city welcome LeBron back?
When he just recently made the decision to come back, I was overly excited. It makes the perfect story. As quick as the fans hated him, they love him all over again. All he has to do is win one [championship] and trust me, fans will be happy. And his story will be classic. It will be legendary.
Were you one of the disgruntled fans burning his jersey four years ago?
When he left, I’m not going to lie, I was shocked, upset and disappointed all at once. But I wasn’t to the point where I was out there burning jerseys and all of that crazy stuff. Because after all, this is his life, nobody can live this man’s life for him. He’s making his choice based on his life and the future of his family. But of course I was upset because I’m a Cleveland fan. But I always felt like he would come back. And plus, there were a lot of things the Cleveland team and staff could’ve done to make sure he stayed. But like I said, I maintained being a fan. We hung out in Miami and I told him that wherever you go, bro, I’m representing you. Just like he told us, he was like, Man, I represent Bone all over the world.
Everybody that made it out of Cleveland had to leave Cleveland or Ohio to make it. and then go back. We had to come all the way to Los Angeles to meet Eazy-E. So if you from there, you know it’s a city of strugglers and grinders. I totally understood that.
What’s your prediction for the Cavs this season?
They can definitely make a run. I’m not expecting no miracles first season back because we obviously have to put the right team together. But that the way we’re looking right now, there’s potential to definitely make it to at least the second round. I’ma leave it at that.
Are you excited to see the N.W.A. biopic?
Aw, man. I can’t wait to see it. If it’s put together right, it’s going to be amazing. I was a big Eazy and NWA fan, so I’m gonna be one of the biggest critics. I know the movie is going to bring back a lot of memories, when I see certain things I’m going to remember where I was and what I was doing.
Fans of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are some of the most rabid and supportive. Why do you think you guys have that kind of connection with your fans?
Our fans, it’s like a cult following. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, we went from a great group to a supergroup to a brand to now a culture. It’s because we connected emotionally with our fans. When we came out, we portrayed the struggle. The only way to make it through that struggle was through sticking with your family. Bone was always very family-oriented and the fans connect with that. That’s why when our fans hear that one of us is not in the group or won’t be at the show, they get very upset and start to worry, like is this person out of the group now? They love us as a whole. Fans like to feel like they’re part of what you do. So you have to show them some type of attention, acknowledge them. We never act funny toward our fans, never turn them down for a picture or autograph. We don’t act like we’re untouchable to, because we want to make them feel like they've been a part of what we’ve been doing for the past 20 years.
And you’ll be able to touch them all over the world with the tour next year.
Yeah, we have a world tour coming up in 2015. It’s called E. 1999/Legends Tour. We got like 20 different countries on the table, we’re going to end it in America. And we’re also working on an album titled the same, E. 1999/Legends. 20th year anniversary of Bone Thugs N Harmony’s music. We’re doing a lot. We’re making this push for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and just to make sure we solidify the Bone Thugs N Harmony legacy.