Bone Crusher was probably amped for the upcoming WWF WrestleMania pay-per-view special, because not only did the 380-pound rapper (whose name could be mistaken for a wrestler's) have his shirt off on March 25, he was running around the stage at New York's SIR studios during his showcase, posing Hulk Hogan-style. As he asserts on his current single, he's not the one to call a scaredy cat.
"I told muthaf---as I ain't never scared," the hefty Atlanta MC yelled as industry execs, members of the press and celebrities such as labelmate Da Brat and Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes mimicked him and looked on with smiles. (Click to see Bone Crusher photos.)
"It's phenomenal. It's a real show," said So So Def CEO Jermaine Dupri after Bone's partial strip act. "That's the thing about him. His thing is to really perform. He's a big dude, but he gives you something you ain't never seen before."
"I was like, 'Whooooa!' Da Brat said a few minutes after Crusher's New York coming-out party ended. "I hadn't seen him take his shirt off [before], but I like that."
Since Bone signed to So So Def in February, people in other parts of the country have just begun to understand what Atlanta and the rest of the South has been feeling since last June — a close to five-minute adrenaline rush whenever the doomsday bassline of his hit song, 'Never Scared,' drops. Although guest stars T.I. and Killer Mike bring lyrics of fury to match Crusher's imposing rhymes, it's Bone's belligerent bellowing on the chorus that has earned the song its anthem status.
"You can apply 'Never Scared' to everyday life," Bone said the day before his showcase. "You can never be scared to go to work every day. A friend of mine's brother is in the Marines overseas. He [told] me, 'My brother be playing 'Never Scared' before he goes out for his maneuvers.' " Bone Crusher also has a remix of "Never Scared" with Jay-Z in the vault.
Although to some it might seem that Bone is new to the scene, he's been lyrically breaking the backs of MCs for years. In the mid-'90s, he and his group, the Lyrical Giants, or the LGs as they were called, were putting out tapes on the underground, as well as persevering through fruitless recording deals with labels like Erick Sermon's Def Squad Records and Tommy Boy Records. And while writing hooks for peers such as Too Short, the Dungeon Family, Jim Crow and Pastor Troy brought him a healthy income, the Crusher's primary means for keeping food on the table came from doing just that: keeping food on the table.
"I'm a chef," Bone said nonchalantly, as if his profession was a common side gig in hip-hop. "I used to cook all the time. I used to cook at restaurants all over town. [My best dish is called] 'Shitake Sunrise.' It's colossal tiger shrimp with a lemon garnish, linguini with minced garlic and white wine sauce. [It's got] a little Parmesan, garlic bread and shitake mushrooms, of course. It's great."
Nine months ago, Bone Crusher decided to take off his chef's apron and refocus his attention on the mic. He said he sat on his porch one day and prayed to God about his new career path, and that the Lord told him to devote all his energies toward making music. He decided he would make a solo LP and "Never Scared" was the first song he came up with.
He put his posse cut out in the streets and it soon made its way to radio. Meanwhile, he continued recording tracks with fellow Southerners Lil' Jon, Chyna White, David Banner and the Goodie Mob. He then sent his would-be independent project, originally titled Bone Crusher and His Industry Friends, to labels in Atlanta and on the West Coast, in hopes of getting one of the companies to pick it up.
"A lot of labels was like, they never heard a record that sounds so big, so clear and so crisp coming from an independent standpoint," Bone remembered with a laugh. "[They said,] 'We don't have to go in and do nothing. We can take the album [as is].' Then when they saw me, they was like, 'This guy is a gold mine.' "
Bone decided to sign with the independent label Break 'Em Records. The company teamed up with So So Def in a joint venture to release the project. It made sense to work with Dupri because of Bone's longstanding relationship with the Atlanta producer and because of JD's outstanding résumé.
"People can say what they want about JD, [but] he brings hits," said Bone, who just finished up work with So So Def alumnus Bow Wow. "He's a great marketer. With my vainglorious nature and his outstanding wit, we can make this thing bigger than life. Me and JD need each other."
"It felt right for me," Dupri said of the signing. "I did it so many different ways with So So Def, but I never found an Atlanta rapper that I could get to before somebody else got to them. I felt like this is Atlanta — it's only right for me to break something from home first. [Da] Brat is from Chicago, Jagged Edge is from upstate New York, Bow Wow is from Ohio. I've been the base of Atlanta. Xscape was from Atlanta, but rapwise the people wanted me to mess with an Atlanta rapper."
Fortunately for Dupri, they didn't have to do much messing with Bone's album. All JD did was re-sequence it, add a skit and rename it Attenchun!
Attenchun! hits stores April 29, and the video for "Never Scared" recently hit the air. In it, the star is crushing more than bones — he plays a giant who stomps through Atlanta until he arrives at a club.