The Cleveland rap veteran traces his winding path from hip-hop stardom to salvation.
Krayzie Bone's lightning cadence still blazes through the haunting darkness of E.1999 Eternal. On the 1995 Bone Thugs-N-Harmony classic, Krayzie dubbed himself "Mr. Sawn Off Leathaface" as tribute to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's lead psychopath. Since, the rapper, real name Anthony Henderson, crafted himself as an iconic rap antagonist. From Bone Thugs' séance ode "Mr. Ouija" to claiming evil overpowers his innate goodness on 2001's Gemini: Good vs. Evil, the 42 year old has often dabbled with malevolence to impact the listener. However, Krayzie's now exchanged being a thug soldier for being a soldier of God. He claims to have found salvation and discovered what he'd been missing. During our interview, the father of eight spoke candidly about being a Jehovah's Witness, the Illuminati, and why he believes the devil is very real. There's plenty of Bone Thugs nerd trivia amongst the spiritual vibes too.
Few people ask about your singing influences, but you were heavily inspired by R&B.
Oh yeah, man, definitely. How it started for me is when I first saw Michael Jackson perform on the Motown Special back in the '80s. I was sitting down watching the show with my family, and Michael Jackson came on. First, he performed with his brothers, then he performed his new stuff, which was "Billie Jean," from the Thriller album. After I saw that performance, a rush just went through my body. I had chills, and I was like, "Yo, this is what I want to do when I get older." It just hit me right there.
My family loves music; my father used to sing. He never did it professionally, but he was known as the singer in the family. My mother loves music. We had a big loud stereo, and they would always play music, and I would always be singing. I was always around music. When I saw Michael Jackson, that's when the dream set in… and from there it went on to people like Prince, New Edition. New Edition was one of my first, all time favorite R&B groups. It just grew from there.
Is it true that Eazy-E took the photo for your Creepin On Ah Come Up cover?
Yes, indeed. He took all of the photos that had to do with Creepin On Ah Come Up. Man, [he was] doing it all himself. He'd walk around with his little digital camera. It wasn't even no special camera either. It was just a little one that you'd buy in the store for $99, back then it was probably like $500. Everywhere he went, he'd just be taking pictures of us. We'd be in the studio working, and he'd be walking around taking pictures of us. We'd be like, "Man, what's wrong this guy? He acting like he a groupie or something?" That's how we were thinking [laughs], but he was on his visionary shit. He knew what he was doing. He was capturing the essence of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony way before anybody even understood that's what it was.
You guys were on Ruthless Records with a lot of the other early signees. Do you have any early memories of the Black Eyed Peas, when they were a "conscious hip-hop" group?
Yeah. They were called the Atban Klann and honestly, we were tripping because we were like "Yo, we thought Ruthless Records was a gangsta rap label?" But then when we came over there, he had acts that people hadn't even heard of before, that he hadn't even released and they were one of them. He had this other cat over there, his name was Stefan. He had a Jewish white rap group, back then, called Blood of Abraham. Like I said, [Eazy] was on his visionary shit a long time ago, and when we got there, we knew what it was. Like, he really got our vision, and that's why he snatched us up immediately and didn't ask no questions. The first time he heard us, he was on us.
The idea to do solo albums and the Mo Thugs side projects with your friends were laid out even before you met Eazy-E?
Definitely. We knew what we wanted as soon as we got the opportunity. We had friends that could sing and rap, and we all said whoever makes it first will come back and get the other ones, and that's just what we did. We had plans to come out with a few Bone albums, then each member would start doing solo albums. I still think we did it a little too soon, the solo albums, but it was always in the plan.
The tours with Mo Thugs must have been massive.
Man, we had like seven tour buses, three or four big rigs with the whole tour set. We was moving crazy.
You suffered a collapsed lung while recording your new album Chasing the Devil. How did that happen?
Nah, it wasn't a collapsed lung. I had an auto-immune disease called sarcoidosis. It's a disease when my immune system works too much, but it doesn't have anything to fight off. It starts attacking your healthy organs – your lungs, your heart, whatever. In my case, it started attacking my lungs, and I was going through it for a while. Coughing, crazy chest pains. I'm good now. I'm actually still on medication, but everything is good now.
On last year's single "Cloudy," you talked about being lost and depressed.
That's what you go through when you're dealing with this industry, when you finally see people's real intentions and how the business works, who is really your friend and all of that. You just start to learn and look at things a bit more different. You look at people different.
During "Chasing Nightmares," there's a line where you said, "What the hell have I been telling these kids?" Are you against rapping about certain subjects now?
I mean certain things. I'm still going to tell my story in a way that's going to get a point across to people, because as an artist, I know how to do that. But some of the things that I would talk about 20 years ago, I wouldn't today. Just because I have a different perspective on life and things, you know?
You spoke about the Illuminati on your radio show The Quick Fix, and you're super passionate about the subject. Do you believe there's a New World Order?
Definitely. That's all in plain sight. It happens right before your eyes, all of the stuff you see in the news and what certain people are representing. It's there. There is good. There is evil. I know there's a devil, for real. I have faith in what God says, and if you just look at what he told us, everything matches up. He's not lying to us at all, about anything. These things don't happen by coincidence. It just is what it is. I'm a true believer in God, and I just know what He says is the truth.
Do some rappers unknowingly forward the agenda of the Illuminati?
Most definitely, they do. Just in a lot of ways, the things they represent, the symbols and the signs and all of the things that come with it. You have to look at all of that. To me it's like... if you know that [thing] has to do with the devil or whatever and all of those things are evil, why do you want to be associated with it?
You've also said the devil distracts the younger generation to keep them occupied and not thinking about the world?
Oh yeah. Exactly, they've got to keep you distracted. How do you think people are so passive about the injustice that goes on, just in America? They keep you preoccupied and distracted. Yeah, it may seem crazy when they hear it, but if you keep hearing crazy stuff, it just becomes normal. They distract us to the point where they can get away with it, and to us it just seems normal. But we ain't really worried about that because we're all on Twitter and Facebook, and these social network sites. That's what it's become.
It sounds like you think we're living in the end times, like the apocalypse.
I definitely believe that.
What made you choose Jehovah's Witness as your personal religion?
I was raised as one. Jehovah's Witness goes back four generations in my family. When I was younger, I wasn't so much with it. As a young kid, it's in our natural DNA to want to rebel sometimes, so that's what I was doing. At the time I wasn't hearing what they were saying. I would go to the meeting room with my family, but I'd halfway listen, and I wasn't believing the message that they were saying. So that's why I drifted off and went to do the music thing in all of that, live that whole crazy life. Then when I started studying back and I was old enough to actually comprehend what they were saying, it all started making sense, common sense, like logical sense. When you start thinking about life, it's like, "Wait a minute?" All of the questions I needed to have answered, were answered.
Would you refuse a blood transfusion like other Jehovah's Witnesses?
Most definitely, because I know why God doesn't want us to do it. It makes total, absolute sense because God said that blood is the actual source of life. God is saying he's promising to bring you back anyway, and this is a real life thing, so when you're back it's going to be a whole better place. It's like, trust in me and if you do fall in death, you're going to be brought back anyway. It's better as a perfect human, that's what the Bible teaches you. A lot of people don't even know what the Bible teaches because they never read it. They have been listening to what the pastor and the preacher is telling them rather than the Bible, and they believe it without researching it for themselves.
Do you also not celebrate Christmas and birthdays?
Yes that's true. For one, Christmas originated from a lie saying it was Jesus' birthday, but in the Bible, it never even mentions a day when Jesus is born. It was a pagan thing created by man, and it had a lot to do with worshiping other gods and false gods. God says there is only one god, Him, so you're not supposed to worship all of these other gods besides Him. This is how it is, and when it comes to birthdays, it all goes back to praising God. Astrology, stuff that God tells us to stay away from, that's where all that stuff comes from. It's kind of like you're praising yourself, like, "Okay, it's my birthday, I want everybody to give me gifts and give me money." You're really not supposed to do that.
If you have true friends around you, they're going to give you gifts all year round, bottom line, if they love you like that. It's unnecessary, man. People be going broke for the holidays buying all of these gifts. They're going into debt, going Christmas shopping, when you can give gifts all year round. You can be loving all year round. You can be jolly all year round. Why wait one day to do it?
You must worry about what's going to happen to your friends after they die.
Definitely, I'm worried about own self. You can never be too confident. All we can do, is make sure we're doing the right thing. What's good though, is the ones that will be chosen for everlasting life, God can read hearts. He knows exactly what your heart is, so if you're a rotten person to the core in your heart, you may be able to fool everybody on the outside, but in the inside, God is going to read right through that, and it's a wrap for you. He knows everybody that has good hearts, you may be in a crazy situation forced to do something that you don't want to do, but your heart can be pure as gold, and He may reward you for that.
You scored a massive hit with your feature on Chamillionare's "Ridin' Dirty." Was there a particularly surreal moment when you heard it?
This is crazy right here: Chamillionaire invited me to do a little show with him in Texas, and when I came down, I was in my truck following him in his truck and he was bumping the song "Ridin' Dirty." He got pulled over by the police, while they were playing it. I had to pull up in front of him while he got the ticket because I didn't know where I was going. I was like, "This is crazy" because the police got both of us, and they were listening to the song.
Did the cop realize?
He wasn't even tripping. He just wrote the ticket. He was cool. I don't think he did.
That song was recorded a long time before it was released.
I actually recorded that song like two years prior, because I was in Texas working with the cats that actually produced the beat, Play-N-Skillz. They just told me there's this dude up there named Chamillionare, he's up and coming. Then all over the radio I heard he's hot, and they were like, "He's a big Bone fan, and he wants to do a song with you."
When they put it on there was nothing on the song but the hook. I just went there and put my verse down, and I wasn't expecting to hear nothing about the song. Like two years later, I get a call from Play-N-Skillz saying, "This song is blowing up all over the radio, and we want to shoot a video." Next thing you know, the song is number one on video and radio. Next thing you know, the song is getting nominated for a Grammy. Next thing you know, we won. So all that came from that song, and I didn't even know.
When you flew to New York to do "Breakdown" with Mariah Carey, your plane actually caught on fire.
Yep. One of the engines caught on fire.
Did you slide down the bouncy slide?
I got to do something a lot of people can't say they did. I was terrified because I had fell asleep as soon as I got on the plane. So I woke up and they had the alarm and all of that stuff on, people was running, jumping off the side of the plane and I thought it was in the air. I was like "oh man, this is not good." That was unreal.
Sometimes even you can't understand everything that other members of Bone Thugs say in their rhymes.
Yeah man, it takes me a minute. With some songs I still don't actually know what they're saying. If it bothers me enough, I'll go listen five times, but there's still some stuff I just mumble along [laughs]. Bizzy and Flesh Bone, definitely.
You've had several friends pass away and you've talked about the supernatural throughout your career. Do you believe in ghosts?
Man, I'm not trying to have any kind of business playing with that. It was foolish even playing with the Ouija Board, back in the day. Now that I know how serious it is, I stay clear of all of that for real, because it's no joke. It's just not something that you want to be dabbling in, because it's real and dangerous.