Thirty-six-year-old Anthony “Krayzie Bone” Henderson of legendary rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – now formerly of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony? – has announced via YouTube that he will no longer be a part of the group, ending an 18-year run with a group that he became a household name with in the early 90s.
This two-minute-and-a-half announcement from Krayzie Bone himself comes as a major surprise to many fans, considering the news earlier this year that the group would be recording another album. Despite the surprising news, the decision by Krayzie should not surprise dedicated fans that have supported Bone Thugs since its 1993 inception into the music industry until today, because the turmoil with the group has been enormous.
In his announcement, Krayzie states: “Due to uncontrollable circumstances, it’s basically time for me to move on … and start embarking on different endeavors that I already had planned in my life.” He later continues: “ I gotta lot of great things coming up; I gotta lot of big plans, a lot of major people backing me and supporting me … and just expanding as a business man and an artist...”
During this declaration, two words overshadow everything, “uncontrollable circumstances.”
It’s very hard to believe that Krayzie made this decision without contemplating the ongoing (and prior) condition with Bone: 1) members not being in unity and on the same page, 2) the death of a mentor, 3) poor/embarrassing record sales, 4) record labels not promoting and giving the group creative control of its work, 5) bad decision-making within the group, and the list goes on. These issues have hurt the group and caused division that will be touched on herein.
Firstly, before the fame, the unity with the group was robust as they struggled together as friends and family in the streets of Cleveland, Ohio to gain success with their unique talents, according to Bone. However, with the fame, everything changed. Members have made it clear various times through interviews and through music that Bryon “Bizzy Bone” McCane, the youngest member of the group, changed dramatically when they received their first check. Fame inflated his head, making him believe he was bigger than the group and deserved more (i.e., money). Consequently, he started missing shows, group interviews, and basically everything involved with the group early on.
This kind of self-indulgence and narcissism did not sit well with the group and they verbally made it clear publicly. Krayzie and Wish on national television (BET) attacked Bizzy in the mid 90s. In response, Bizzy, in the song “Don’t Doubt Me” which appears on his second album The Gift (2001), gives his reason: “Two of the Bone’s dissed me, I don’t give a f..k, we got history / Shit it ain’t no mystery, ni**as is pissed off they say I ain’t showin’ up to shows, but the people don’t know / I ain’t making no money, so what am I working for / tell me what am I hurting for / baby, what are we searching for, restitution / little foster kids give me contributions / so you can ring out the towel and watch who’s paying me now.”
In 2005, the group released an underground album called Bone 4 Life, embedded with a video. In this video, Layzie – the closest Bone member to Bizzy – goes on the a verbal attack when Bizzy calls in while he, Krayzie, and Wish are in the studio recording: “While I’m out here getting an album done with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony … I gotta tell the world that Bizzy ain’t a part of it, ‘cause he’s a bitch ass ni**a.” Bizzy continues talking in a composed manner, but Layzie wants to hear none of it. He gets up from the sofa and positions himself close to the telephone and shouts: “ Dude, dude, dude, shut the f**k up! I think you like not being a part of this organization which we created; I think you like causing confusion within our group!” The screaming continues until Krayzie comes in and utters something to Layzie, and thus he hangs up the phone.
In a recent interview, “Waiting For Never,” conducted by All Hip Hop’s George Stoutakis (published March 22), Krayzie for the first time reveals a mouthful regarding Bizzy and Bone. In a statement, Krayzie states: “Bizzy was erratic. He was running around on his Bizzy Bone thing in the very early stages of our career, which was shocking to all of us the way he came out and just separated himself from Bone all of a sudden. That was shocking to us because before we had made it, all five of us was tight. And what he was doing was just shocking, like how could you just all of a sudden, as soon as we get our first paychecks – everything is different?”
In part 2 of the same interview, Krayzie states: “… he used us to get where he wanted to go. And when he thought he didn’t need us no more, he tried to play us – but it backfired. And that, to me, that’s the whole situation why Bone is not together because he was never able to humble himself enough to wholeheartedly come back and just be a part of Bone.”
In regard to Bone as a whole, Krayzie, without calling out anyone in particular, indirectly states that members are not on the same page: “I don’t know why members in the group won’t get in mode and push forward. Because, man, we travel all over the world. And the response that we get overseas is like we’re brand new, coming out. So I ask members all the time, like, ‘Don’t y’all see the way these fans react? That there’s still a lot of fire in Bone?’ If n***as just come together and get on the same page for once? We’re not signed to anybody! We have the opportunity to do whatever it is we want to do!”
Following this statement, Krayzie shows enthusiasm in unity: “… I could initiate it, but is everybody going to show up? Is everybody going to come do what they need to do? And everybody always talking about how they so much for Bone, but dudes ain’t showin’ that.”
These statements by Krayzie do not reveal anything new, for fans have seen the lack of unity with Bone in the 90s. After releasing BTNHResurrection in 2000 (their last platinum-selling album), it was clear that members were not on the same page and the lack of harmony was at its high. As a result, all of the group albums after Resurrection, seemed off, forced, and failed to garner any major sales. Thus, those two words, “uncontrollable circumstances,” Krayzie uses in the beginning of his decision to leave the group, are paramount.
Secondly, the death of Eric “Eazy E” Wright via aids in 1995 damaged the members mentally, because he signed them as teenagers and became their mentor and friend. Bone paid homage to their mentor by remaking their original “Crossroads” to “Tha Crossroads,” which became a mega hit, one of the fastest-selling singles of all time, and won the group a Grammy.
After Eazy E’s death, his wife Tomica Wright took control of Ruthless Records; unfortunately, Bone was under her reign and could not do anything legally to release itself from the label, for the group was bound by contract.
Members, for years, stated their frustration with how business was conducted, but due to uncontrollable circumstances – they were stuck. Unsurprisingly, issues with the Ruthless Records troubled the group, specifically Bizzy, because he became invisible – always missing and nowhere to be found.
Interestingly, Bizzy, although present throughout the music video of “Tha Crossroads,” is missing in the final scene, where only Krayzie, Layzie and Wish are shown – the only members that have been consistent fixtures in Bone due to Bizzy’s absent and Flesh’s almost a decade of imprisonment.
Thirdly, album sales which never plagued the group in its early years became a major struggle after 2000. Creepin On Ah Come (1994), E. 1999 Eternal (1995), Art of War (1997), and BTNHResurrection (2000) were all successful and collectively sold millions worldwide, not to mention classics. Eternal, the group’s best-selling album to date, went 9x platinum worldwide. Back in the day, going platinum for Bone was the norm; they produced great music and was awarded via major sales and music awards.
With the exception of Bone’s latest album UNI-5: The World’s Enemy (2010), Thug World Order (2002), Thug Stories (2007), and gold-selling album Strength and Loyalty (2009) were not great but good albums that failed to capture those amazing numbers in sales.
The changing atmosphere in the music industry (especially illegal downloading) without a doubt influenced album sales but was not the cause, for Bone’s quality music/production declined.
UNI-5 epitomizes great failure, a debacle, and an album that was doomed from start. It had so much potential but failed miserably, because it was lackluster, became a public circus via think tanks, and badly managed from many angles. Consequently, it represents the worst album released by Bone. Embarrassingly, it was executed with all five members for the first time in ten years. Moreover, its failure was caused by Bone’s affiliation with Brand Engine and the lack of support from Warner Bros. Records, which transitions to another point of an uncontrollable circumstance: record label.
Fourthly, major record labels have the power and influence to facilitate record sales of an artist via promotion and monetary backing. Signing with a major rather than an independent label has its advantages, because majors have power. Sadly for Bone, that power was not exercised. In fact, Bone had zero promotion from Warner Bros. If there were any monetary backing it was invisible, and the cheap music videos produced for UNI-5 are clear examples.
If that was not bad enough, executives at Warner Bros. used their powers to butcher the tracklist of the album by constructing their own tracklist, leaving the group powerless without any creative control. Krayzie says it perfectly in his recent All Hip Hop interview: “…when you are signed to a record company everything is good, but the minute that creative issue comes up they usually are the ones who win it, because they have everything. They have the power, they got the music, they got the machine, so they can just take it and put it out if they want to. And we can’t really do nothing but sit back and complain and make it look like, you know, it’s the label’s fault. But half and half, it really is the label’s fault. I ain’t gon’ put everything on the label because some was our, Bone’s, fault from internal issues, you know, but, they played a major part in it, too – Warner Brothers.”
This statement by Krayzie that puts some of the blame on Bone will be the fifth and final point covered herein, which deals with bad decision-making by Bone throughout.
One of the most devastating decisions by Bone was when members began focusing on building their own separate record labels (and finding talent) without being a concrete unit as a group. Granted, Krayzie and Layzie’s partnership with Mo Thugs Records in the mid 90s was a success, for Mo Thugs Family Scripture (1996) and Mo Thugs 2: Family Reunion (1998) went platinum. Not only were these albums successful, but they occupied promising artists like Souljah Boy, Thug Queen, 2 Tru, Felicia, Poetic Hustlaz, and more.
Once Krayzie left to pursue his own label called ThugLine Records (now The Life Entertainment), the entire structure of Mo Thugs and its artists fell apart. Mo Thugs as a name declined and became irrelevant, and it showed when Mo Thugs 3: The Mothership (2000) and Mo Thugs 4: The Movement (2003) failed with new faces. Bizzy also started his own label called 7th Sign.
In brief, these labels at the time took a lot of time and focus away from the group, which halted Bone’s production and separated members into different cliques of some talentless and wannabe artists. It is important to note the following: throughout the group’s career, not one member has been successful with an artist under his label.
Other bad decisions include the following: not finding proper management that would facilitate different ventures away from the music industry; releasing so many garbage solo albums (e.g., Bizzy with more than 18 albums) and lackluster albums (e.g., Layzie); taking years off to release Bone albums; not going on many tours to generate money and attention; affiliating with leeches that are usually around to bathe in Bone’s prior success and name; allowing Bizzy to come and go as he desired and bringing confusion within the group; releasing UNI-5 too early because of Flesh’s release from prison; putting out UNI-5 when there wasn’t any real unity; and the embarrassing affiliation with Brand Engine, which became more embarrassing when both sides parted with unpleasant remarks.
These issues stated herein are the uncontrollable circumstances that not only Krayzie had to deal with, but other group members, which may have caused Krayzie to leave the group and separate himself from the years of turmoil and drama.
If Krayzie’s decision is final, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is finished and will not be taken seriously. Bone has not been taken seriously in the music industry, nor has Bone been respected, because of the antics of the off-and-on member Bizzy, the ongoing breakup speculations, the childish drama within the group, and other issues. This decision will most likely be the final blow.
One member does not make a group; however, Krayzie was and is the main component of Bone and the most talented member. He has always been known for fabricating amazing choruses and coming up with the bulk of concepts of songs. This statement is no disrespect to the other members, but they just don’t have what it takes to carry an album without Krayzie.
Layzie has lost that raw edge he used to have and just doesn’t bring it anymore; he’s basically unexciting and has no unique qualities that separate him from other artists.
Bizzy has turned his career into a joke by acting stupid in various interviews and embarrassing himself any chance he gets, and laughs at his antics as if they are funny. The countless of horrible albums he has released show his decline as an artist, and an artist that doesn’t care about quality but rather quantity.
Wish, the least favorite member, has talent but doesn’t have that spark. He has also been heavily criticized by fans for being the only member to not have a solo album under his name. Because he is a part of The Life Entertainment and is closer to Krayzie, he may be gone, too.
Flesh is a beast and still showcases that Bone style with his uniqueness and has the talent to produce quality materials. However, it will be very difficult for Flesh alone to carry a Bone album without major support.
Krayzie signifies the battery that allows the car to start, the key that starts the ignition, and the steering wheel that directs the car to its destination.
Bone as a group had a good run, but nothing lasts forever. There is a beginning and an end, and the end has been brewing for years with the constant nonsense. In truth, Bone has been dead for years. As a fan, I saw the end, especially during his recent interview, and respect his decision. Is this a permanent departure for Krayzie? No one but Krayzie knows, but the history with the group says he’ll be back. However, it would be advantageous for all the members to pursue solo ventures and reunite in concerts in the future.
The group may be over or decreased in numbers, but the history of record-breaking sales, selling more than 50 million records worldwide, winning many awards, and bringing a unique sound to the industry cannot be denied and will never be forgotten. Despite how many times one leaves and comes back, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony will always be considered a five-man group: Krayzie, Layzie, Bizzy, Wish and Flesh.
* * * * *