Bizzy Bone, absent from most of the promotional rounds for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's 2000 LP BTNHResurrection, said he'd be happy to record and promote another album with the group under one condition: He gets the monies he says are owed to him by the group's record company, Ruthless Records.
"As long as they pay me money, I don't have a problem recording with nobody," said the Columbus, Ohio, rapper, who released his second solo album, The Gift, on Tuesday. "As long as I ain't working for free. You sell millions of copies and make people millions of dollars, and then you look at your account and it's not sufficient. I don't have millions of dollars, so it ain't right."
Bizzy sued Loud Records, Sony Music Entertainment and others in December for allegedly failing to pay him a $1 million advance for the recording of his second album. He dropped the suit last month in exchange for a release from his solo contract with Sony (which is also a parent of Ruthless Records), allowing him to put out albums independently (see "Three Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Members Dropping Solo LPs").
"I dropped the suit because they gave me an opportunity and took the chains off of me," he said. "They gave me what I wanted: my freedom."
That freedom resulted in The Gift. The follow-up to 1998's Heaven'z Movie was put out by Southern California indie AMC Records. (Bizzy said he did not feature any Bone members on his album because he was contractually prohibited from doing so.)
Bizzy, who claims to have about 650 songs waiting to be released, feels that AMC will give him the chance to fully express himself as an artist for the first time in his illustrious career, which includes more than 10 million albums sold as a member of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, as well as a Grammy Award.
"If I sell 100,000 records with AMC, I'll get more money than Ruthless would have ever given me," Bizzy said. "When you weigh out those options and the possibilities, you've got to say, 'I'll take it.' We're independent and we can do what we want to do. I can put two, three albums out in one year if I'd like to."
A Ruthless Records spokesperson could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
The first single from The Gift is "Father." Bizzy, who shot the video for the song in Columbus, features his signature rapid-fire singing style on the track, where he urges listeners to accept responsibility for their actions.
"Everybody told me that I should be singing, and when I heard the track, something just came to me," he said. "It's one of those things that an artist does. I really never preplanned it. I just went with the vibe. But I'm trying to put everything back in the Lord's vision, which is where I left off with Heaven'z Movie, but I'm really able to implement it in a better way."
A proud father of five pre-teen children, Bizzy plans to visit schools across the country while promoting The Gift in order to stress the importance of education and reading as much as possible, things he also stresses on the album and its liner notes.
"I want to bring some intelligence to the game, because I don't think that people are thinking too much right now," he said. "We've got a few people thinking, but they don't know how to posture it to a way where it sounds good on tape. I think that I do that pretty well."
Bizzy also hopes to make the transition to acting. He will appear in two direct-to-video movies scheduled for release this year: "Jacked," which was filmed in Columbus, and "The Color of a Dream," which was shot in Arkansas. Even though they're not major motion pictures, Bizzy said he simply wanted an opportunity to flex his acting skills.
"They're little low-budget joints," he said. "They get my face out there and let motherf---ers know that I've got skills."
Even with those artistic skills, Bizzy's career has been dictated mostly by business, something which might not have happened had mentor Eazy-E not died in 1995.
"If E were alive, I wouldn't be worried about this," Bizzy said. "Eazy knew how to treat people. Before we even signed a contract, he gave us $10,000 each in cash. Everybody knew what [Dr.] Dre and other people said about him. It wasn't about that with lil' E. It was different. But I'm not going to sit up and tolerate no dumb sh--."