by Brendan Bowers / @BowersCLE
Long before Anthony Henderson was introduced to a worldwide audience as a member of the legendary rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, his father was introducing him to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Those early childhood memories of a guy they called World B. Free would quickly evolve into a lifelong devotion to his hometown sports teams for Henderson, aka Krayzie Bone.
Through hit records like “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,,“1st of Tha Month,” “Tha Crossroads” and countless others, Krayzie would help put Cleveland on the map by repping his city along Bone’s path to superstardom. But despite his monumental success—which includes becoming a multi-platinum artist who won multiple Grammy’s while recording songs with both Biggie and Pac—Krayzie Bone is still that same kid from the 216 rooting for Cleveland every time the Cavaliers take the floor.
Recently, SLAM caught up with the rap icon to discuss the upcoming NBA season along with getting his thoughts on Kyrie Irving, Mike Brown and the Cavs. We also talked about The Quick Fix Show he launched this month as well as his record label, clothing line, music career and more.
SLAM: What are you hoping your Cavaliers can accomplish this year?
Krayzie Bone: I’m really interested to see what they can do. It was a major blow when LeBron left; I think that kind of put the city in a slump a little bit, but we always climb back and I’m pretty sure the Cavs are going to climb back this year. As long as everybody stays healthy, we get Irving some consistent help out there, and everybody plays their role, I think we can at least make a good run—at least to the Playoffs. If that happens, I’ll be happy. If they just make the Playoffs, I really think that would show progress.
SLAM: Can you talk about that passion you have for Cleveland’s sports teams and what it means when they do well?
KB: Oh man, Cleveland sports teams run deep. The history runs deep, the culture runs deep and if you’re from Cleveland then you already know—no matter what, you just ride with the team. You might talk trash about them, say this or say that, but as soon as that game is on TV, I’m right in front of it rooting for whatever team it is. That’s just me, you just go for Cleveland win or lose. I’ve been a Cleveland sports fan ever since I can remember, ever since I was little.
SLAM: What are some of your earliest memories as a Cavs fan?
KB: I remember watching the Cavaliers when World B. Free was on the team—now that’s back in the day. I was really young but I remember watching it with my father, just hearing his name—World B. Free. And then the whole squad we had later with Mark Price, Ehlo, Brad Daugherty and Harper, there’s just a whole lot of history with Cleveland teams, and I stand behind it 100 percent. I’m sure everybody sees my crazy tweets, but I just love sports. I love football, love basketball and even though I’m not really into baseball, when the Indians are in it, I’m into that too.
SLAM: What do you think about Mike Brown coming back this year to coach the Cavs?
KB: Actually, I’ve always liked Mike Brown. I really don’t understand why he was let go in the first place, or why he left. I thought he was a good fit then and I still do. He was a good coach when he went to L.A. too, but to me, L.A. is just a Hollywood team. It’s glitz and glamor out there, so they’re always behind the camera and they’re always putting on a show. But I always thought he was a good coach and I’m glad he’s back man because I like the way he coaches. I think he can help these young players learn how to work together on the defensive end and get them on a track to start winning games.
SLAM: If you were to compare Mike Brown and the defensive style he coaches with to one rapper, which rapper would you say he’s most similar to?
KB: Oh man, I don’t know, that’s a tough one. But like you said, Mike Brown comes back hard with the defense and he’s aggressive with it, so my first thought is Tupac—aggressive. I’d compare him to Tupac based on that aggressiveness and how he’s always working—just going hard, never stopping and never quitting.
SLAM: You spent a lot of your career with Bone watching the Michael Jordan era of the NBA during the 1990s. How would you compare that era to the one currently led by LeBron James, Kevin Durant and these guys?
KB: I think those two eras definitely had two different styles of play. Back then, it was more of like a finesse game, or more playing the game how it should be played as a team. Now it’s like everybody is expected to dominate, everybody has to dominate. These dudes, I don’t know what they’re on but they’re coming up like straight beasts, like straight monsters, and they’re just going in. But don’t get me wrong, those guys like Magic and Jordan they did that too, but to me, I see the individual players as being more hungry for that success now and they’re willing to do what they need to do to go after it and get that shine for real.
SLAM: Do you remember the first NBA jersey you bought growing up?
KB: I definitely was wearing a Mark Price jersey and I had a [Ron] Harper jersey as well. That was back in the day too, before jerseys were even popular! But that was definitely a squad with Price, Harper and those guys. Just like the Browns back then, those Cavs teams gave us many heart attacks in the Playoffs.
SLAM: Let’s take it back to 1997 for a minute—the Cleveland Indians go to the World Series, the Cavaliers host the NBA All-Star Game and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony wins a Grammy for “Tha Crossroads”. What was it like to represent Cleveland that year with everybody watching?
KB: Man, I remember that like it was yesterday. We were excited, we had all these people coming down to our city to see what our city was like. That was in the beginning of our career too and we were so happy. I remember one night, we were at a party, it was some party at a club down in the Flats, and it was so crazy because the Indians game was on during the World Series. It was a nightclub but nobody was dancing, nobody was doing nothing you’d expect to be going on at the club, everybody was just sitting around a TV watching the game—everybody. And after the Indians lost, everybody sucked it in and started buying drinks and getting on the dance floor. It was crazy, but at the same time it was real cool. And then with us winning the Grammy, it was like, man, Cleveland was on fire. That was the start of people knowing what Cleveland was and where Cleveland was.
SLAM: Do you have any NBA-type stories like that from when you guys were maybe out on the road over the years as a group?
KB: Absolutely man, that’s when we beat Detroit. When LeBron was still on the team and we beat the Pistons to go to the Championship—that was unbelievable. We were on tour and we were watching it with a bunch of other people and there was about six of us from Cleveland, and man we were just going in. You would’ve thought the whole room was from Cleveland, it was crazy. That was one of the most memorable nights for me as a Cavs fan.
SLAM: Say the Cavs return to the Playoffs this year, which Bone song would you recommend they play to pump the crowd up if you could only pick one?
KB: Honestly, I would say “No Surrender”. To get the crowd hype, that’s our anthem, “No Surrender”. Never give up, never surrender, play it to the end.
SLAM: Over the last couple years, the Cavaliers organization has embraced Cleveland-based rapper Machine Gun Kelly almost as a part of their brand. He’s been with the team to the Draft Lottery, recorded the intro video, sat courtside for a number of games. Do you feel like Bone helped paved the way for a relationship like that between a hip-hop artist and a pro sports team to become so mainstream?
KB: There’s no doubt we helped open the doors for that. Cleveland is a lot different today than it was back then and it’s only going to continue to grow. I see they’re building downtown and it’s looking real nice down there. The city already is a thriving city and it’s only going to keep getting better. We have the casinos now and I’m looking forward to seeing the city expand even more, I just think it’s all a wonderful thing.
SLAM: If the Cavaliers asked, would you or even Bone collectively be open to returning to a game this season? Call it a “Bone Night” or something like that?
KB: Bro, definitely. I would love to come back and show support for the team. I could even be like Jack Nicholson at every game too [laughs], you know what I’m saying? But most definitely, that’d be great. It’s also interesting, as big of a sports fan as I am, I’ve never been to a Browns game in person, ever. But me and my girl got tickets to the Browns vs Steelers on November 24, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ve been wanting to see a Browns game my whole life and I’m heading down to the tailgate and everything, for real. Would love to hit a Cavs game when I’m in town for that too.
SLAM: You just launched a talk show called The Quick Fix Show. Can you talk about that along with some of the other projects you’re working on right now?
KB: Yeah, like you said, we just launched The Quick Fix Show and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do as far radio or a talk show because I feel like I have a lot of experiences to talk about. I stay up to date with current affairs, with what’s going on in the world, and then I love sports to death. So this show was right up my alley to be able to sit back and express how I feel about certain situations in the world as well as in the world of sports.
SLAM: You have a clothing line, too, that you launched a few years ago. How are things going with that?
KB: I do have a clothing line that I launched three years ago which is called The Life Apparel. It’s going real well and we’re actually getting ready to branch out and open a couple stores up worldwide. We already have one in Los Angeles and we’re going to open up one in Cleveland, Phoenix and also Santiago, Chile. So I’m just trying to expand that, and just trying to build as well as still working on other projects. I’m still recording singles with the group, I’m working on my fourth solo album which is called Chasing The Devil, so I’ve been pretty busy along with launching a record label with some talented artists. So I’m just trying to keep working and keep building.
SLAM: What motivates you right now from a business perspective after traveling the world, selling all the records you have, what still drives you?
KB: Just to be able to do what I love. I love making music, I love putting messages in the music and teaching people things. It’s not just about the glamour and life. For me, I feel like, as successful artists in this business, we do have a responsibility to put some positivity back into the community. I know a lot of us, when we first get on, we don’t think about being role models because we’re just living the life. But once you get older, you start to settle down, you realize that you really are a role model. So while we’re not perfect, it’s just always good to set a good example for the up-and-coming artists and the community in general. It’s just about trying to inspire people to strive harder for what they want. But like I said, I love doing what I’m doing so that’s the motivation. I love making music, love my family, and that’s what keeps me going.
SLAM: Any other projects you’re working on?
KB: Kevin Hart has a movie coming out called Let Me Explain and I have a song in that called “Monster”. I’m getting ready to shoot the video for that and I’m putting it out as a single. Along with that, I’m also producing the soundtrack and that’s coming real soon. I’m getting into a little bit of acting too, been busy with this talk show and I’m just working, staying busy and like I said just trying to keep building.
SLAM: If you had to pick today, who wins it all this year in the NBA?
KB: I don’t really know, I’m going to have to see how this season gets started. If Miami comes back with the same aggression, they could be going for that three-peat. I know that’s going to motivate them to go for it, too. I think they will definitely be back in the championship. If they have the strength to win it? Still yet to be seen but I do think they’ll definitely be in the championship. As far as who they’ll be playing? Man, I have no idea, I’m going to have to see what these other teams are looking like.