Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony spoke with Shawn Prez where he detailed working with Tupac and Biggie Smalls.
For many in the hip hop industry, as an artist, you can only dream of having the opportunity to work with Biggie and Tupac. Only few can brag about this very rare feat. For Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, that dream was a reality. Not only can they brag, but they have been fortunate enough to create a classics with the two hip hop legends.
After Biggie’s passing on March 9th of 1997, Bad Boy records went on to release Biggie’s second and final studio album. The double CD, ‘Life After Death’ would feature Cleveland’s own, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on the song ‘Notorious Thugs’.
The connection was made while Bone Thugs were in L.A. recording their album ‘Art Of War’. Biggie Smalls would also be in L.A., and quickly told Puff Daddy to make the call. Puffy went ahead and called Bone Thugs manager Steve Lobel, and explained how Biggie, wanted Bone Thugs on ‘Life After Death’.
The album was basically done, but Biggie wanted to have Bone Thugs on for the final piece to the classic album. “Puff actually called us and said, ‘BIG wants ya’ll on the album, can ya’ll come down?’ We was like bro we there. Say no more,” Krayzie Bone said on VLAD TV.
Stevie J who produced the song, was approached personally by BIG to create the beat. At first it almost ended up not being the beat we all know and love now on Notorious Thugs. Puffy had other ideas. “Puffy kept playing different beats. Not the beat I created. I guess, you know he had multiple hit men, so he was trying to sell beats. They was like ‘nah that ain’t it, nah that ain’t it’. I’m like yo play that joint from last night,” explained Stevie J. After rejecting multiple beats, Bone listened to Stevie J’s beat for the song and according to Stevie J, “Bone went crazy.”
East vs. West
During an interview on The Breakfast Club Bizzy Bone explained how Biggie initially thought Bone Thugs wouldn’t be feeling the idea of collaborating together. “Well, I think BIG was like, he thought we loved ‘Pac, so much that we wasn’t gon be on his vibe.” Bone Thugs-N-Harmony wasn’t looking to take sides, even if at the time, many were choosing sides. East Coast or West Coast.
At the time of the heated beef between Biggie and Tupac, Bone with get the best advice at the time from their mentor, Eazy-E. “”I ain’t gon lie we wanted to jump into like everybody else did, ride the bandwagon, But, Eazy-E told us F–k all that’. Ya” ll bigger than that. I don’t need ya’ll into none of that. Ya’ll ain’t got nothing to do with it. All I need is ya’ll to your music,” Wish Bone said.
When Bone Thugs hit the studio Biggie made sure they would get into a zone. “BIG had it laid out for us. Gave us too much Hennessey and too much weed. We go in there, we pass out,” Krayzie Bone recalled. “BIG asked our manager Steve Lobel, ‘They cool?’ Label like, ‘Yeah yeah, they cool.’ We wake up, jump up and go right in the booth. Lay our parts down. BIG in there like, ‘Yo, what the f–k. These ni–as was just sleep.'”
Speaking on being drunk, Layzie Bone remembers being knocked out, drunk as hell. Drunk to the point he went to the limo and passed out. Only to be woken up by Bizzy Bone, when it was Layzie’s turn in the booth. “Bizzy came waking me up talking about ‘hey man it’s your turn’. I’m like ya ni**as finished already?”
Biggie masters Bone’s flow
After Bone Thugs completed their verses, Biggie told Puff he would take the beat home back to New York and work on his verse. The result, an instant classic with an incredible delivery, living up to the hype. Bone Thugs would hear the final version of the song when it came it on the album.
“He killed it and it was bittersweet, because we didn’t get to hear the album until he passed away,” Krayzie Bone said. “We didn’t hear the record until it came out on the album. We didn’t hear it at all. And when we heard it we was like, ‘Yo, this ni–a killed it.'”
Thugs unite, Thug Luv
In 1996, Tupac was working at an extremely fast pace. From making movies, to fashion shows, to the hundreds of songs that he recorded. Tupac was the hardest working man, with his work ethic described by many as contiguous, and second to none.
This was on full display when Tupac met Bone Thugs-N-Harmony for the first time. “That actually had jumped off when Bizzy and ‘Pac had met up somewhere, and they actually kicked the song off, says Wish Bone. Me, Layzie, and Flesh had met ‘Pac previously when he first got out of jail, at the La Park Hotel in L.A. He drove up in the Benz and jumped out, you know, ‘f–k all that beef sh-t’.”
As far as the ‘Thug Luv’ record, Bizzy and Tupac recorded the song together first, explained Krayzie Bone. “Well with Pac, him and Bizzy ran into each other. They randomly went to the studio. Then when we heard the song and the label called us and told us we had a song with Pac, we was like, ‘Yo, this is crazy.'”
Difference between recording with Tupac and Biggie
“‘Pac was like off the wall with it, always up, laugh, kicking it. To me Biggie was more like reserved, and laid back and watching everything,” explained Krayzie Bone. “With ‘Pac he out on the floor the whole time like, ‘we gon do it like this!’. It was night and day to me, but you could see they was super creative. Great dudes man. The Mount Rushmore’s. I call them the Mount Rushmore’s of Hip Hop,” Bizzy Bone said on the Breakfast Club back in 2019.