Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview
On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s Krayzie Bone to discuss his career, relationships with people in the music industry, and many of his notable collaborations.
Born Anthony Henderson in Cleveland, Ohio, Krayzie teamed up with his Bone Thug cohorts in middle school and high school, and formed a rap group in their native city. Post high school, the group set out to secure a record deal and traveled to Los Angeles in hopes of meeting rapper Eazy-E. After being impressed by their unique sound of swift flows and harmonies, the now-late artist signed them to his Ruthless Records label. Shortly thereafter, they released a string of tracks that would usher them to fame and later become classic golden age rap anthems. “1st of tha Month,” which appeared on their 1995 effort, E. 1999 Eternal, peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The following year, “Crossroads,” which appeared on the same album, stayed at No. 1 for eight weeks.
After Bone Thug’s success, Krayzie went solo in 1999 and released the album Thug Mentality. Since then, he’s released several other personal projects, worked with a number of big names in the industry and has also delved into podcasting.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from “Drink Champs’” Krayzie Bone interview. Take a look at them below.
1. On Working with The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac
Bone Thugs got the rare opportunity to work with legendary emcees The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac at the height of their feud. On “Drink Champs,” Krayzie reflected on how their songs with both rappers came to life. For the track “Notorious Thugs,” which appeared on B.I.G.’s sophomore effort, Life After Death, Krayzie said Diddy called Bone Thugs to record with them in L.A. When they hit the studio, he and his bandmates laid their verses, but B.I.G. decided to wait to record his bars. “He sat there with Puff and was like, ‘I’m going to take this back to New York with me,’” he said. “He didn’t lay his verse there. And we didn’t hear the verse until he passed away.”
Their song with 2Pac was called “Thug Luv” and it appeared on the group’s third studio album, The Art of War. Produced by DJ U-Neek, the track came together after the group originally wrote it for their former Ruthless boss. “We actually wrote the song for Eazy. It was called ‘Artillery Shots,’” Krayzie said. “When Eazy passed, Bizzy Bone ran into Pac in traffic in L.A. [At the studio], U-Neek played the beat and Pac was like, ‘That’s the one, let’s go.’”
2. On the Making of Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’”
Chamillionaire’s 2005 single “Ridin’” featured Krayzie and it peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it won a Grammy the following year. Prior to his appearance on the track, Krayzie said he didn’t personally know Chamillionaire and rapped on the track because of his relationship with its producers. “I simply did the record on the strength of the producers, which were Play-N-Skillz,” he said. “I watched these dudes hustle and come up from nothing. I didn’t even think the song was going to come out. At the time, it was just the hook on the verse. He’s talking about not riding dirty, I’m riding dirty as a motherfucker on the song.”
3. On Steve Rifkind
Former Loud Records Chairman Steve Rifkind work with Bone Thugs after Eazy-E’s death, and Krayzie’s second solo album, Thug on the Line, was released on the label. In past interviews, Krayzie said that the success of his projects were hindered because labels like Loud didn’t know how to market his music. On “Drink Champs,” the rapper expounded on his feelings towards Rifkind and lamented about how the former head honcho wasn’t straight up with him about Loud’s ultimate demise. “I really didn’t feel like Steve Rifkind really understood the dynamics of Bone,” he said. “I tested him and [asked] him what’s his favorite song. If you say ‘Crossroads’ is your favorite song, you’re just an on the surface Bone fan. Then, when I got word that Loud was going to fold, I go to Steve Rifkind and ask if this was true. He was like, nah. Two weeks later, they folded.”
4. On Sampling Sade
It’s clear that hip hop artists have an affinity for singer Sade and have often paid homage to her in different ways. However, according to Krayzie, the singer is very selective about who she clears samples for and has turned down numerous artists in the past. When it came time to record his 2001 track “Hard Time Hustlin’,” Krayzie flipped Sade’s “Feel No Pain.” After attempting to get the sample cleared, he was surprised to find out that the singer came through for him. “I found out the reason that she really cleared it was because her husband was a huge Bone fan,” he said. “When they went to her, he was like clear this record. And she cleared it and gave me footage of her to use in the video.”
5. On Fat Joe and Big Pun
Though Bone Thugs had built connections with West Coast artists at the time of their debut, Krayzie revealed that East Coast emcees Fat Joe and Big Pun really embraced them during their early days. “Joe and Pun were the first rappers that really took us in,” he said. “They took us in, took us to the Bronx. We had Joe come to Cleveland. He was in our videos. Them and Naughty by Nature. To this day, [they are] family.”
6. On Battling Migos
In 2018, Migos deemed themselves “the greatest rap group ever” during an interview with “Big Boy’s Neighborhood.” After the claim, Bone Thugs member Layzie Bone released a diss track aimed at the Atlanta trio. From there, members from both groups had numerous exchanges back and forth. When asked about the situation, Krayzie told N.O.R.E. that he believes it’s trivial. “My mind frame was like fuck that dumb shit,” he said. “Niggas is supposed to think they’re the best. Hip hop has always been arrogant. My thing is, we on such a legendary status, why even talk?”
However, the rapper made it clear that if the two groups were to go against each other during a Verzuz battle, he’s sure that his group would be the ultimate victors. “If you step in the ring with me, it’s going to be an outcome,” he said. “I know a lot of niggas that have gotten a lot of money from rapping. But, is that actual talent? I’m not trying to offend anybody, but I’m bound to. We come from a different generation because our morals and standards are different.”
7. On Working with Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey tapped Bone Thugs to appear on her 1997 single “Breakdown,” but according to Krayzie, the collaboration almost didn’t happen. He explained that during the time, the group’s popularity exploded in Cleveland, and they didn’t want to leave the action at home. “When Mariah called, me and Wish [Bone] were the only niggas that got on the plane,” he said. “We [were on our way] to New York to work with Mariah. We on the plane first class. We sat there contemplating like do we really want to go to New York and leave all this in Cleveland?”
After being convinced by music exec Steve Lobel to stay on the plane, Krayzie said that Carey treated them well upon their arrival. “When we got there, Mariah had the weed and the Hennessy on a silver platter,” he said. “She sat it out. We in this bitch like, oh shit. So, she played the song for us. That’s the homegirl.”
8. On Being Influenced by His Father
With their rapid-fire flows and trancing melodies, it’s safe to say that Bone Thugs’ signature sound is unique. Krayzie explained on “Drink Champs” that his father had vocal skills and that’s what ultimately inspired him to pursue music. “My father could sing…that’s where it comes from,” he said. “He inspired me to do so much stuff as far as the melodies. My father played so much music and we would get up in the morning, and sweep and clean the house. I would wake up to O’Jays. My father is who put me on to music.”
9. On the Making of “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”
While tracks like “1st of tha Month” and “Crossroads” later became Bone Thugs’ signature hits, “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” released in 1994, was their first introduction to the masses. The song is known for its soulful hook provided by singer Shatasha Williams. Krayzie told N.O.R.E. and EFN that the song came together after randomly meeting the singer on the street. “We took a smoke break [while recording]. So, this female walks up like, ‘What’s this place right here?’” he said. “We told her it was a studio. She was like, ‘I can sing.’ ...We go inside the studio. Eazy was like record her right now! Eazy was like, ‘This is the single.’ She came in off the streets my nigga.”