I’m not entirely sure what Bone Thugs-n-Harmony have been up to for the last 15 years. Bizzy went crazy. Flesh-n-Bone got locked up a of couple times. They did a video with Phil Collins. I don’t usually get excited about seeing fading stars onstage, but their January 18 show at Brooklyn Bowl is one for nostalgic heads.
Taking it back 20 years, the fast-rapping quintet will perform 1995’s seminal E. 1999 Eternal in its entirety for the first time ever. The Cleveland rap group’s full-length debut produced two of their biggest hits: the mournful “Tha Crossroads” and welfare party anthem “1st of Tha Month.” While their lighter moments were the most celebrated, E. 1999 was wickedly dark, not just because of its violent themes; the album art featured cryptic text and occult imagery. I probably shouldn’t have been listening to it as an 11-year-old. I’m gonna have fun trying to rap along to “Die Die Die” and “Mo’ Murda.” Cypress Hill’s B-Real opens, for added old-school flavor.
While Bone gets top billing for me, they’re not the only acts to catch in coming weeks.
Channeling Billy Crystal, local underground emcee Charlie Madness kicks off his City Slickers tour with Snap Murphy, Mr. P Chill and DJ Uppercutz at Hard Hat Lounge on January 9. The man’s been grinding, recently dropping videos for “Live It Up” and “End Times,” with an album due out next month. With a $5 cover and $5 beer-and-shot specials, you might just have your Friday night figured out.
Speaking of underground rap, Los Angeles subterranean stalwarts Dilated Peoples return to Las Vegas, this time to the Fremont Country Club on January 16. Last year’s Directors of Photography—their first album in eight years—was a handbook for authentic hip-hop, marked with the same boom bap sound and sharp wordplay that put them on the map in the early 2000s. Their summer performance at the Boulevard Pool proved the trio is still as tight as ever, with emcees Evidence and Rakaa keeping heads nodding and DJ Babu delivering a surgical scratch session.
Despite my love for true-school hip-hop, I’m mostly looking forward to partying with New York’s Sweater Beats, who brings his lush and airy beat work to Beauty Bar on January 22. The future bass producer is making a name for himself with his Cloud City EP, a small collection of crisp post-EDM tracks that lean heavy toward electro-R&B. He’s crafty with keys and synths. Let’s see if he can command his DJ duties just as well.