Next to Bizzy Bone, Layzie Bone is arguably the most candid member of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Immediately after picking up the phone, his charismatic personality takes over and the conversation flows with ease. Topics range from his new solo album Wanted Dead Or Alive — a nod to the 1986 Bon Jovi song of the same name — and a potential Bone Thugs biopic to the infamous Migos controversy and LL Cool J.
“I thought I was LL Cool J, at one point,” he tells HipHopDX with a laugh. “I love him. I liked how he moved. I mean, just his aggressiveness. When he made ‘I Need Love,’ I was in seventh grade. I wanted to just fall in love. That didn’t work out, but you know.”
It’s almost hard to believe Bone Thugs has been around for almost three decades, but their colorful industry tales are a staunch reminder of their longevity. Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Flesh-N-Bone and Wish Bone have immersed themselves in the culture since taking a bus from Cleveland to Los Angeles in an effort to track down N.W.A legend Eazy-E. Ultimately, Eazy ended up signing the five-piece collective to Ruthless Records in late 1993 and the rest is history.
Looking back on his career, Layzie recalled a funny incident that happened after landing in New York City to record “Notorious Thugs” with Biggie, not something many Hip Hop artists can say they’ve done. With longtime manager Steve Lobel in tow, Bone Thugs made their way to The Record Plant studio.
“Showing up to the studio, we was in a limousine,” he says. “We came from St. Clair in a limousine going to see Biggie Smalls and Puffy in the studio. Everybody was there — I’m talkin’ Stevie J, because Stevie J did the beat, everybody from Bad Boy — except for Lil Kim, I ain’t see her that day — everybody from our camp, Ruthless Records, because we was in the house. So you got to imagine B.G. Knocc Out, all our security and Bone Thug-n-Harmony. We was having a ball up in that piece, right?”
Layzie continues, “So the song was being made. It only took about five hours, too. We did our part. I was asleep in the limo. They woke me up. I did my shit just out of my sleep. Everybody thought they’d freestyle and all this type shit. Well, let me see you freestyle more than 16, 20 bars at a time.
“Anyway, Big was like, ‘I’m going to take this home, man’ and he stole my weed! He put my weed in his pocket. I’m like, ‘That’s a whole ounce, Big.’ He said, ‘Y’all got some good ass weed, yo.’ I’m like, ‘Man, give my muthafuckin’ weed back, Big.’ He’s like, ‘This yours?’ So, he gave me my weed back. We broke it in half, actually, and then this nigga went home, took this song and died before he got to hear his verse.”
The track ended up on Biggie’s sophomore album Life After Death, which was released 16 days after his March 9, 1997 murder.
“We ain’t know he was going to kick it off like that,” Layzie adds.
The song itself was littered with references to the perceived animosity between B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Biggie clearly refers to ‘Pac in the line “so called beef with you-know-who” and calls the alleged feud “bullshit.” Meanwhile, Bone Thugs throw a few barbs at Three 6 Mafia, Twista, Crucial Conflict and Do or Die.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s seminal album E. 1999 Eternal turns 25 on Saturday (July 25). The 17-track project was released in 1995 and served as their first official album under the Ruthless Records imprint.
Check back later this week for Part II of HipHopDX’s interview with Layzie Bone where he’ll discuss the Migos “beef,” the aforementioned biopic and more.