b-sides: Best of Bone Thugs

When Bone Thugs-N-Harmony came onto the scene, there wasn’t much like them in the mainstream. Armed with their signature staccato cadence, the emcees offered rhymes on class and culture that have maintained their social relevance well beyond their originally-intended shelf life, with unflinching narratives that deal with poverty and loss. In preparation for their show this Thursday at Diamond Pub and Concert Hall, we reflect back on some their most choice cuts.

“1st of tha Month”
Was there any other track that this could have possibly started with? There is an easy air to the track that underscores the very real social disparities here between the haves and have nots. Ultimately, this is about people in poverty making the best of their situation, celebrating in the best ways that they can, when they can and it’s awesome.

“Down ’71 (The Getaway)”
As the title promises, this is a getaway song — a cops and robbers kind of thing that features the constituency of Bone in the role of the lovable criminals doing what they have to do to survive the cops. While the violence in this track may not be for everyone, it seems especially salient given all the attention paid to police violence over the last several years.

“Tha Crossroads”
This track was an anthem to high school seniors everywhere at the time of its release, a nostalgic look back on change and the effects of time. It also gives insight into how much Bone Thugs miss their Uncle Charles, which you can only imagine means that that dude was a boss.

“Home (feat. Phil Collins)”
Never in a million years would I think that this team up would work, but this track is so, so dope. Collins sings the hook and provides the grist of the beat over a track that again tackles socio-economic class struggle and loss.

There is something incredibly dark about this beat and the rhymes paired with it that just makes for one grimy roughneck track. This is Bone Thugs at their most unchained and their raps here are eternally righteous.