New Year’s Eve, 1997. A few hours before the ball dropped, I sat in my parents’ bedroom to watch my favorite rap group, Bone Thugs -N-Harmony on BET’s Planet Groove. After a performance of “Look Into My Eyez,” Cleveland’s finest sat on the couch with
my former wife to be, Rachel Stuart to promote their newest project, The Art of War. In the interview, Krayzie, Layzie, Wish, and Flesh-n-Bone expounded on the origins of their signature style and future endeavors.
When asked about solo albums, Krayzie Bone told Rachel he and Bizzy Bone would be the first to release their projects. As my favorite two members, I hoped with excitement the two of them were to make a joint project. I misinterpreted Krayzie’s statement because Heaven’z Movie by Bizzy and his double-disc effort, Thug Mentality 1999 were released in 1998 and 1999. I loved both projects and will argue with anyone Krayzie Bone is one of the most underrated emcees of all time; but I still held onto hope one day, this collaborative project would exist.
Almost 20 years later, it happened: In 2017, Krayzie and Bizzy Bone had arrived as the duo, Bone Thugs, entitled New Waves; boy was I disappointed. It was a good body of work and the two of them rapped their asses off. But the subject matter was not what I expected and waited for since Planet Groove.
Bone Thugs had a new sound. All the songs were in bright major keys, some were about girls, r&b crooner Tank made an appearance, and I could have sworn someone said something about a skating rink. The only ounce of thuggin’ on the album was to warn a newer generation about the pitfalls of the streets. I was a little upset New Waves lived up to its name.
Then track seven happened. “Let’s just sit back and do nothing at alllllllll. Let’s just smoke to the good life” chimed through my headphones and I felt it. All five members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony used melody to rap about a toast to their friendship. The truth is, I didn’t relate at all to East 1999, the Land of the Heartless or “running with he AK-47, bucking, heated heavy.” Bone Thugs-N-Harmony grew up.
But on the other hand, “I’m on a wave and I’m gonna stay. So can you stop fuckin’ with me” is a lifestyle in my thirties and am all for. I love to sit back and do nothing at all; it’s one of my favorite hobbies.
Whenever I listen to “Waves,” I think about my how my childhood friends and I have evolved and matured. In the days of oversized throwback jerseys and icy white tees, we showed up to clubs in New York, 15+ people deep, and got into all kinds of shenanigans. As fun as it was, I enjoy this stage of our lives much more.
A few months ago, almost all of us who still lived in New York were in one room because one of our brothers was getting married; this is a rarity. Donned in tailored suits and outfits which matched our personalities, we toasted to one of our own as he pledged his life to his soulmate.
My guy’s nuptials felt like one of those benchmarks where the whole group stepped outside ourselves and looked at who we’d become. We joked all night how our setting felt like the final scene in the 1999 movie, The Wood. These were my middle school friends and we relished in our bond of over 20 years, and it was a reminder of how far we’ve come as individuals and a collective. None of our conversation revolved around the good ol’ days; we talked about commitment and the next stages of our lives.
As we all saluted our brother with toasts, in true Chad fashion, I began mine with a joke. “I guess I’m the Mike [from The Wood] of the group because I don’t come from Lefrak [City] like everyone else.” I never felt like an outsider despite where I came from in Queens might as well be a different country than the rest of the crew. I was accepted for who I was and embraced because of it. After middle school, I moved to Long Island and had a quite different adolescent experience. When I went to college and lived in Atlanta for seven years, I never felt as if I missed out because everyone else stayed in New York. When Timile died, everyone came from wherever they lived to give me a much-needed night of love and support; they took care of me that night.
The long New York nightlife in crowded lounges and clubs, convening somewhere along 57th Ave have become replaced with family-friendly barbecues with our wives, children, and significant others. I love this new wave that we on right now.