Bone Crusher Interview: Southern Gorilla

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by Alex Shtaerman

Coasting to gold status on the strength of the top-ten hit single “Never Scared”, Bone Crusher’s 2003 debut album AttenCHUN! positioned the jumbo-sized MC as a rising star among Atlanta’s Hip-Hop heavyweights. With his sophomore LP, Release The Beast, dropping July 18th, we sit down with Bone to catch up on some ATL Hip-Hop history and see if the man is really serious about losing weight; starring in the latest edition of VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club certainly can’t hurt.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Today there are a lot of rap artists from Atlanta that are household names. In your view, who were some of the people that laid the foundation for all that we see today, including your own success?

BONE CRUSHER: Well, I’ma take you back through the history. In the begging, the first Hip-Hop record that ever came out in Atlanta was Raheem, it was called “Eliminator”. Raheem was the first guy that I heard of from Atlanta that had an actual record and DJ Toomp, who is a well known producer right now, he did the T.I. record “What You Know” and a couple of other records for T.I, he [used to be] the DJ for Raheem.

From there on you had Shi-D and Toomb DJed for Shi-D also. In the 80’s going into the 90’s you had DJ Smurf, DJ Lynn [and many others]. Those are the people that were the beginning; those are people that started the whole trend of the music that you hear now. A lot of people came around after that. What you hear today is: you got me, Lil Jon, YoungBloodZ, Ying Yang Twins; you got the new thing with Snap Music and Franchize Boyz and definitely definitely Outcast. Outcast is probably one of the main reasons why the movement itself has gotten bigger, because of their way of doing their thing and taking it worldwide. Shoutout to Dre and Big, they’re my niggas.

The whole movement itself started in the 80’s and it came up to right now. We got the Crunk Music, we got Snap Music; they coming out with some kind of new music [all the time now], I can’t even keep up with it all. I ain’t been home in like three or four months. When you leave for that long you [lose track]. I’m out in L.A. shooting a TV show, so I’ve been out the loop. You go back and there’s some new shit. You’re like – damn, what the hell is this?

RIOTSOUND.COM: You were engaged with all the elements of Hip-Hop as early as 1987; you were DJing, break dancing and rapping but at the time you didn’t realize that you could make money doing any of it. Did that early mindset of just doing it for the love have anything to do with the success you’ve had?

BONE CRUSHER: Anything you do you have to first have a love for it, if you’re gonna do it and be successful. A lot of people get success on certain type of projects and then they don’t really like [what they did] and it ends up destroying them. Look at Chris Farley; look at a lot of actors that get all these millions of dollars and they’re not happy. They think the money is going to make them happy and it isn’t about the money, it’s about what you love to do.

Whether you’re a plumber, a contractor or a rapper; whatever you wanna do, if you don’t like what you doing you’re not going to be very successful at it. And I think that has a lot to do with my success as far as me actually doing this type of music because I love it. I would do it if I didn’t get paid for it, I don’t care. I quote Michel Jordan’s dad when he said – luckily God gave [Michael] the opportunity to do something that he loved because if he had to do something else, he probably wouldn’t succeed; it’s good that Mike had an opportunity to play basketball. So it’s always a blessing to be able to do what you love and actually get an opportunity to work at it.

RIOTSOUND.COM: You got your new album, Release The Beast, dropping July 18th. What can fans expect to hear on this record?

BONE CRUSHER: I’m not deviating from the plan. This record is clearly like “Never Scared”, it’s a monster record. It’s nothing but demolition and destruction. And I love that, that’s my therapy. Instead of me killing somebody I just go ahead and go in the booth and talk crazy. That keeps me happy. I’m able to talk to you like this because I just got through screaming on the microphone. [Now] I’m calm. When I’m in the booth I’m the Hulk, so it is what it is.

[For the new album] I did a bunch of records just thinking of “Never Scared” and trying to get that type of vibe that got a lot of fans wanting that back from me. On my MySpace page they be hittin’ me like – Bone, Bone, we need some more of that craziness, we need you! So I’ma give it to them. My first single is called “Southern Gorillas” and it is exactly that.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Prior to your success as a solo artist you wrote for a lot of well known artists including Too Short, Outcast and The Clipse; what was that like writing for other artists?

BONE CRUSHER: I didn’t write lyrics, I wrote hooks, I did hooks for ‘em, they wrote their own lyrics. I did a lot of the hooks for Organized Noize, YoungBloodZ, Lil Jon, Too Short. It was fun. It’s great to work with great artists, people that love what they do. Ain’t nothing like being in a room full of people who love what they do and you loving it and having great music come out. It’s a wonderful experience.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Earlier on in your career you had several label deals that didn’t pan out, until finally you were able to connect with Jermaine Dupri. How did you initially get together with JD, and also, what is the current status of that situation?

BONE CRUSHER: I’ve been knowing JD for ten years. As a matter of fact, lemme tell you the whole story. Lil Jon used to be the A&R for Jermaine Dupri at So So Def. I used to be affiliated with Black Market Entertainment, which is Lil Jon’s company. I also draw, so Lil Jon was like – JD is looking for a logo, you should draw some stuff for him. So I went over to So So Def and I started drawing some stuff. JD came and I had like three logos and JD says – that’s the one right there, I want that right there.

RIOTSOUND.COM: So you drew the So So Def logo?

BONE CRUSHER: No, I didn’t do that one, Skip did that one. I did another one that [JD] used for these jackets that he had. He used it for like a year and then he switched over to the one Skip did. So from then on [me and JD] was cool; he actually didn’t even know I rap. He didn’t know that Lil Jon rap either [laughs], he didn’t know none of that. So then Lil Jon started doing beats and I had a deal with Tommy Boy for a minute and that ended up not working out. Then [after that] I signed with Eric Sermon and that didn’t pan out either.

Then in 2002 I ended up recording the “Never Scared” record. I saw JD in the club, I had already had the record go public but he was out of town so he didn’t know what hell was goin’ on, just like I don’t know what the hell is going on right now. So I saw him at the club and I was like – check this record out, tell me what you think. Next thing I know, he had this radio show, So So Def Radio, and he was telling everyone – this is gonna be the hottest record ever, the hottest record ever. So from then on we kinda went into a partnership. After that, the whole thing with Arista happened, they flopped; we ended up with Jive and that [wasn’t working]. So JD went to Virgin and we were all stuck with Jive. I finally got my release from Jive a couple of weeks ago, God bless America [laughs].

RIOTSOUND.COM: You are also going to be starring in the latest edition of VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club. Are you really looking to lose weight or is it something that you are doing more as a celebrity guest?

BONE CRUSHER: I lost 30 pounds already, so I’m losing weight. We’re in the process of filming right now; it’ll be done next month and it’ll be coming on TV shortly after that. I take it real serious. Lemme tell you something about me, I’m a winner man. If I’m in any kind of competition I’m gonna try to win. That’s my job, to win.

RIOTSOUND.COM: As far as rap goes, in many respects Atlanta is at the top of its game right now. What do you think all the up and coming artists need to do to keep the sound fresh and make sure that the trend continues?

BONE CRUSHER: That’s it; keep the sound fresh, that’s all you gotta do. That’s what it’s all about. Make sure every time you come with something different. Keep it fresh, keep it fresh and keep it poppin’.