They put a new sound into the rap game, walked past the musical crossroads, died and were resurrected on wax. So what does life after death have in store for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony members Bizzy, Layzie, Wish and Krayzie?
For starters, they've been working with the original R&B thug, Bobby Brown, on their new LP, aptly titled Thug World Order.
"It's a song talking about everything everybody is talking about; their cars and their jewelry," Krayzie disclosed on Wednesday in New York. "We got that but we don't need that to shine."
On the yet-to-be-titled track, Brown takes it back to his "Every Little Step" days, both singing and rapping on the cut.
"Dude is like Tupac," Layzie said. "He's off the hook. He's live. He wrote the rap in his head in like five minutes. Dude was cool to work with. He's real professional. You could tell when you work with him, he's been doing this since 'Don't Be Cruel' and 'Mr. Telephone Man.' His work ethics is like Tupac."
"When people hear it, they gonna say, 'OK, OK,' " Bizzy chips in. "It's not no joke. He's holding his own too. If you can get on a track with these brothers and hold your own with these brothers right here, you're alright with me."
Bizzy said that the rest of his group members are now cool with him, too, and the collective maintain they've never broken up despite the reports of friction between them the past few years.
"When you get some sh-- that's good and you see it try to do something different, people can't handle that," Wish said about everyone pursuing solo projects in addition to their group effort. "Rumors get out. But for us, it's all about the music, period. We're always going to come together and do the music. We got to."
The group does admit to years of feuding with Tomica Wright the wife of their deceased mentor, Eazy-E, current CEO of Ruthless Records and a woman Bizzy has been quoted as calling "The Black Widow." After some contract renegotiations, everything with Ruthless has been resolved (see "Harmony Restored In Bone Thugs-N-Harmony"), and Wright even traveled with the foursome on the trip to New York.
"Basically, we had to fight to get what we wanted in order for us to get down with Ruthless the way we was gonna get down with them," Layzie said. "We had to negotiate. That's in anybody's career. At that time, we wasn't happy and Bizzy wasn't going to move until things got to where we was making the money we wanted to make."
"What I think made things a lot easier is when we took a stand as a unit, as a whole," Bizzy added. "Once we did that, we were taken a little bit more serious and were given what we wanted and everybody is happy with what we have. We were always that group, that act on the label that held it up. [We] kept the bricks in the building and kept the lights on."
Layzie said that even though they haven't put out an LP in a couple of years, it didn't take long for those little light bulbs in their heads to illuminate with ideas.
"It's just like riding a bike," Layzie said. "Once you learn how to do it, you never forget it. We're Bone Thugs-N-Harmony when we come together at any time, any place, our chemistry is already on. We love each other for one. Two, the respect [is there], and three, we love making music. The chemistry is always gonna be there if we was doing solos for two or three years apiece. Making Bone albums, in two seconds the chemistry is on with just eye contact."
Bone Thugs said they're coming with a more political slant this go round, and in addition to the title track, they have songs called "Take Charge," "Bad Weed Blues," "Not My Baby" and "Cleveland Rocks" with their hometown homeboy Avant. Snoop Dogg's artist Mr. Kane also sings on the LP. Thug World Order is due out this summer.