Watching “Tha Crossroads” As An Adult » VSB

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Watching “Tha Crossroads” As An Adult

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony  (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

 

I used to rock with Bone Thugs N Harmony. I generally enjoyed bopping and inventing words to a handful of Bone Thugs songs and even copped the “Look Into My Eyes” maxi single. In fact, I learned Biggie’s verse on “Notorious Thugs” in the seventh grade to impress a girl, and well, you see how far that got me. Here are my thoughts after watching their “Tha Crossroads” video for the first time as an adult.

I. When The Swoop Bang Trio opened the video with that soul-accosting rendition of “Mary Don’t You Weep,” all that repressed fear came rushing back. Their eerie vocal swirls shook me the fuck up then, and it shook me the fuck up just now.

II. As a kid, because of the low-angle and overhead shots, I thought each of the Bones was all like eight feet tall. I figured that was part of the overall “Die Nigga Die” aesthetic. I thought the clip was unnecessarily gloomy and I let a friend convince me that smiling during the video would cause me to spontaneously combust. I haven’t watched it in easily 15 years. This shit is still pretty creepy, though. It still gives me just as many heebie-jeebies as that bedroom scene in Why Did I Get Married? with Tyler and fine ass Sharon Leal. (Dry heave.) The emotional experience involved in the watching of the video is akin to the despair experienced upon encountering a baggy magnum on an otherwise promising dude who just refuses to live in reality. Oh, the horror.

III. I still only understand about 47% of this shit. I reckon that is because I have since studied Spanish plus a smidge of Portuguese and have since been exposed to various accents and unique brands of gibberish. Since this video’s premier, I have lived through five Janet albums and a decade of It’s Ya Boy Lil Jon’s banshee screams. And sticking with Janet through The Jermaine Years has trained me in the art of deciphering the meaning of the most muddled bullshit. But not even mastering Janet’s most advanced Jacksonese could prepare me for the Bones and their rapid-fire pish posh. Looking back, I gather that we all did a lot of posing, emphasizing that one line in Wavy Hair Spice’s verse that we knew.

IV. It could be argued that Creepy McCreeperson, the baldheaded angel of death from this video, was the visual inspiration for Morpheus from The Matrix. And mid-90s R. Kelly was obviously the motivation for the baldheaded angel of death’s dark and stormy steelo. So far, I’m unable to decide who, between the man who killed that couple’s baby in the video and the Pied Pisser who wore this, is the bigger creep.

V. Now, as a likkle yute dem, #TeamNaturalHair Bone’s exclamation, “And I’m gonna miss everybody,” was a celebration. You see, in this popular yet largely unintelligible rappity rap sing-song, those were among of the few lyrics beyond the chorus that my friends and I could agree on. So, I used to rap the entire fuck out of that line, with the most earnest sheltered Black chile’s earnestness, rap hands just a-pointin’ and gesticulatin’, every blessed time. In my head, anyway. #Shy

Listening to that line just now, I asked myself:

Self, is Light-Skin Spice rapping as the spirit of My Uncle Charles, Y’all?

Or, is he going to miss everyone around him, because he is assuming (or knows) they will all die before him, because thug life? Either way, that is damn morbid.

VI. My Uncle Charles, Y’all. I still cannot. When Morpheus walked up those steps and put the two-finger sleeper pon My Uncle Charles, Y’all’s forehead, I would look away, cover my eyes, change the channel, or press fast-forward on the VCR, every time. I am still unsure if it was from tremendous sympathy for this young uncle-less man or from the sight of My Uncle Charles, Y’all’s eyes fading to black. Or perhaps a little hyper-emotional pre-teen queer combination of both.

VII. They all had dope hair. They let you know that living that hard knock life does not mean you can’t prosper via a loving hair care regimen. You can luxuriate with that hot oil treatment while drinking your juice in the hood. These brothers wore twist-outs, French braids, lazy Sunday buns with the deep wave all up and through this video. It’s really a shame the Bones never got their props as Natural hair pioneers, breaking gendered stereotypes, one teased coil and fortified edge at a time.

Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for EBONY.com, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at www.thecoloredboy.com

  • Lea Thrace

    You sir are a fool. Swoop Bang Trio had me hollering from the jump.

    You made me remember just how much I was obsessed with this song even though it debuted smack in the middle of my country music phase. I’m talking I missed my morning bus a couple of times cause this video came on and I just had to sit through the whole thing. I was one strange teenager…

    who grew up to be a strange adult. But that’s neither here nor there. ;-D

    • It’s such a creepy damn song. Just death all around. Scary shit.

  • My Uncle Charles Ya’ll. lol That’s him name.

  • Andrea

    “Light-Skin Spice” and “Bones never got their props as Natural hair pioneers” “one fortified edge at a time”….Hilarious.

  • panamajackson

    Yo, My Uncle Charles Y’all as a full name literally kilt me dead every time I read it. Literally. Because Crossroads.

    • I kind of want that to be my new twitter handle. But I won’t. Because Crossroads. lol

    • Leigh

      DEAD at My Uncle Charles Y’all!!!! Laughed out loud in my office and almost had to explain Bone Thugs N Harmony to the whyte folks.

  • miss t-lee

    Mayne. I actually have an Uncle Charles, so that video has always messed with me a little bit.

    “It’s really a shame the Bones never got their props as Natural hair
    pioneers, breaking gendered stereotypes, one teased coil and fortified
    edge at a time.”

    Agreed. I’ma pour out some Jamaican Black Castor Oil for them right now. Only a few drops #doe. Sh*t is expensive.

    • JBCO is SO expensive. Gotta make it last. Go easy on them edges.

      • miss t-lee

        Yes, indeedy.

  • Mari

    Hysterical post. I flatlined from the mention of ‘baggy Magnums’!

    “You can luxuriate with that hot oil treatment while dranking your juice in the hood.” <—- So. Damn. Funny. Kinda sounds like my Sunday afternoons if you change juice to wine. The group with the most enviable hair of the 90s for sure!

  • She Who Reads

    My fault for trying to read this as I drank a mason jar—cause Southern— full of water. I almost ruined my MacBook playing with you, bruh. The part about the “two-finger sleeper” kilt me dead.

    Sidebar: I found myself rewatching this video myself about three weeks ago because I realized there was a fifth man whose name I didn’t know. Flesh, Wish, Krayzie, Layzie, Dayzie. Wait, that it isn’t it. Anyway, I decided to read the lyrics on a split screen. #LifeChanged. They said things I never knew they said. And the parts I rapped so earnestly were way off base.

    *Sings* “And I’m gonna miss Seven, Lawdy*

    • I used to be like, “Wally he’s exhalin, booooo”

      real lyric: “Wally, Eazy, Terry, Boo…”

      • She Who Reads

        So the part that says, “What they did to Ru was wrong,” I always thought was a reference to Ruthless Records, their label. Apparently, there was someone named Boo. Oh. All right, then.

        • Guest

          Me: “Now follow me rooooll strong, weather is talkin bout Seven. Let’s go to the bitty people that’s oh gone there is, Wally he’s exhalin’ booooo.”

          aaand wrong.

          • She Who Reads

            “Now, follow me, roll stroll. Whether they telling me seven times to think ’bout people being bust out on their a** while all these thugs drinking brew.”

        • Guest

          Me: “Now follow me rooooll strong, weather is talkin bout Seven. Let’s go to the bitty people that’s oh gone there is, Wally he’s exhalin’ booooo.”

          wrong.

          • MysteryMeat

            OMG i wasnt ready

      • She Who Reads

        Also, I opened with, “Head South, thinking there’s a party. Eazy sees Uncle Charlie.”

        That ain’t it, either.

    • miss t-lee

      Who is Dayzie?

      • She Who Reads

        That other one. What’s his name? Whenever I try to remember their names I think of the song that says, “Krayzie, Layzie, Flesh, Wish. Reefuh really makes me happy…” I can’t think of the name right now. But there’s a fifth one. His name is reallll common, but it escapes me. In the meantime, Dayzie, it is.

        • miss t-lee

          Bizzy.

          • She Who Reads

            Yes, him!!!!! That’s the one. He came along later or something.

            • panamajackson

              Um no boo. LOL.

              Bone is comprised of Wish, Bizzy, Layzie, Krayzie, and Flesh. When they first dropped, Flesh was in jail (he’s Layzie’s brother) though he’s in the Thuggish Ruggish Bone video. So the lineup most folks know is Wish, Bizzy, Layzie, and Krayzie.

              Flesh had the solo album that featured the song with Rev Run “world so cruel” that ended up being a decent single.

              • Rachmo

                How in God’s name do you know this?

                • panamajackson

                  I’m a hiphop head who came of hiphop head age in the 90s. I know about all types of stuff.

              • Andrea

                Why is this the funniest response to anything Ever!
                Flesh is Layzie’s brother? I always thought it was Bizzy in jail, or on drugs, or just late to the video set. I would have liked to been a fly on that wall when they picked out names.

              • She Who Reads

                Oh, snap!!!!! The reason he said, “Krayzie, Layzie, Flesh, Wish” was because it was Bizzy who was rapping. #IAENO.

                You need to be somebody’s college professor, my dude. Shoot, Christopher Martin (Play from Kid-N-Play) teaches at FAM. (Confession: I almost called him Black Kris from Kris Kross. I need a nap.)

                • Andrea

                  You mean light skint Kris? Ain’t Black Kris dead? The otha one gotta a teaching job??

                  • She Who Reads

                    Nawl, the other two Chrises. Kid-N-Play Chris. Not Kris Kross Chris. But, yes, Black Kris Kross Chris is dead. This is confusing. LOL.

                    • Andrea

                      Ohhhhhhhhhhh! Them Chris’. Yeah I could see that.

                • panamajackson

                  Panama fact: I have been somebody’s college professor.

                  But yes, I could easily lead a class discussion on hip-hop. Easily.

                  • She Who Reads

                    Really?

                    Clearly.

              • miss t-lee

                Thanks PJ, I didn’t get back in time to type this…lol

              • BeautifullyHuman

                I thought Layzie & Krayzie were brothers??

  • And I still can’t watch the video til this day…

  • Val

    I’ve trained myself to listen to this song without my brain processing the lyrics. I’ve never seen the video, thankfully.

    • Don’t do it to yourself. Just sway gangsterly and spare yourself the visual.

  • mochazina

    sir hardy. HILARIOUS! :-)

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