Usually Angel Central shopping centre would play host to office bods who want a relaxing drink or meal after work to get them over the mid-week hump. But on Wednesday January 31st Angel Central was mobbed by small groups of street savvy hip-hop enthusiasts looking for a quiet corner to smoke whilst they fondly discussing memories and sharing their excitement about seeing the legendary double time rapping barber shop quartet influenced rap group: Bone Thugs N Harmony who were playing at the 02 Academy Islington.
The 02 Academy served as the mecca for all things Thuggish and Ruggish with tight but polite security who ushered patrons out of the cold and into the foyer which was plastered from wall to wall in Bone Thugs posters and merchandise. Fans were swarming the merchandise table. The staff manning the merchandise table looked like they could barely cope as they were multitasking, selling caps, t‑shirts and hoodies to hordes of dedicated supporters.On entry the main hall was heaving with energy as DJ Position whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a set full of rowdy Hip-Hop classics. After 20 minutes of intense bangers DJ Position introduced Caine (@Caine216), Bone Thug’s official support act who took the venue by storm with his high energy set. Performing tracks such as “Gotta Eat” “Tomorrow” and “Real One” from his Album Addiction.
Once Caine had finished man handling the venue and ensuring that the crowd would not forget his name any time soon, DJ Position allowed to crowd to recover for 15 – 20 minutes whilst he spun chilled hip-hop classics. We all knew what was coming next and this was our time to get those last-minute drinks and smokes in before Bone Thugs take to the stage.
The audience was a completely unexpected mix of young and old, with fans in their late teens and early twenties to small groups of professionals who had come straight from the office and there were even a few couples who appeared to be in their 50s and 60s. It was evident that these were all hard-core fans of Bone’s niche double time harmonic sound. At least every third person was wearing some form Bone merchandise and we were all poised and waiting with baited breath for crew to take to stage. Finally, the announcement came from DJ Position to make some noise for Bone Thugs N Harmony.
Krayzie, Layzie and Wish Bone entered the stage to sound of their East 1999 classic “Mo Murda” and they were serenaded by frantic crowd who were all too excited to sing along with the chorus and chime in, in unison to Bone’s somewhat incoherent yet melodic verses. At first you could feel the unified disappointment of the absence “The Fifth Dawg” Flesh Bone and the high-pitched charisma of Bizzy Bone but that didn’t last long as the crew were fully focussed on delivering a high energy performance as they began their set by working through some of their darker moodier classics from their early albums. Treating long-time fans to classics such as East 1999, The Thuggish Ruggish Bone, Look into my Eyes and the 1st of Month. This started the set off with a bang and it wasn’t long before the audience got over the disappointment of the 2 missing members of the crew. The Cleveland Thugsters knew they had won over the crowd and now it was time for them to take us on a musical journey into the world of all things Bone.
The crew and DJ Position were relentless, rapidly performing song after song from their back catalogue only slowing down to pay homage to some of the great artists that they have collaborated with over years including Maria Carey, Phil Collins and of course Notorious BIG and 2Pac.
The set had begun with the darker moodier side of Bone, but as the 90-minute set went on the moody minor scale pianos made way for Bone’s more reflective and uplifting offerings such as “If I Could Teach the World”. With the audience feeling unified and uplifted and things slowing down slightly we knew that Bone was about to lead us to “Tha Crossroads” where we knew things would inevitably end. It felt like no one in the audience was ready to leave, but we knew what time it was. So, with that in mind, we gave it our all as the whole venue chimed in to help Bone perform their final song putting that extra emphasis on the words “See you at the crossroads, so you won’t lonely”.
As we filed out of the venue all I could see were smiling faces, and hear groups of people performing their renditions of their favourite songs from night. People were also exchanging numbers and stories about how and when they “got into” Bone Thugs. And that’s when it dawned on me; this wasn’t just a concert, this was a social event, better yet a social gathering of Hip-Hop fans with an affinity rhymes and melody. Bone Thugs aren’t on tour, they’re on a mission, a mission to teach the world how to be “a thug in harmony.”