“An Ironic Pontification on How Bone Stumbled upon the True Essence of Life with ‘The Crossroads’”

At this point, obviously, nobody’s going to argue the greatness of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Cleveland’s proudest sing/song hip-hop group and overall purveyors of blistering, blissed-out and stoned-out “cool.” The “1st of tha Month” anthem is a routine denizen on social media, and, in general, if the group isn’t known as one of the weed-smokin’-est crews in history, up there with Snoop Dogg and Cypress Hill, maybe, then they certainly should be. 

Although it’s debatable, I personally find “The Crossroads” to be the most important song they ever did, even outdoing the venerable “Notorious Thugs” with The Notorious B.I.G., for the former’s increased reach on radio and MTV. Regardless, the tune peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making its top positioning on the rap and also R&B/hip-hop charts pretty much a foregone conclusion. 

I suppose it’s appropriate, then, in light of this overwhelming success on the pop charts [1], that there’s really almost no hip-hop element to “The Crossroads.” The song is sung, rather than rapped, as is the group’s tradition, and the beat even turns a slow, contemplative bent toward Tyrese or K.C. & Jojo territory, eschewing the more hip-hop-leaning background tracks you’ll find on most other songs on E. 1999 Eternal, their ’95 album. 

In light of this, we can start to really put the lyrics to “The Crossroads” under a microscope, and analyze them the way we would, say, a Mariah Carey or Michael Jackson song, like the gut-check introspection of “Man in the Mirror”; as it were. 

People often ask what the meaning of life is. It’s ironic, then, to ask the question at all, as the enterprise of enjoying life seems preferable to grieving it, of course, yet it’s usually when we’re grieving it that we would choose to issue this oblong existential inquiry. 

And though the two inquiries aren’t typically judged together within the same discourse, let alone actually juxtaposed as posited opposites, it seems the direct inverse of this frustrated quandary to plea, as Bone do on “The Crossroads”; “Could somebody anybody tell me why / We die / We die?” 

Is it conceivable that the meaning of life is to enjoy it? Obviously. Then, in the event of a person truly enjoying life to its fullest, kind of “blessed with the struggle,” as the oft-proffered subculture tenet seems to go, then what would be the reaction when the thought of death infiltrates this mental state? That thought of death, in such a subject, would cause the utmost discomfort, of course, as compared to a party who’s already questioning the meaning of life’s existence and what he or she is even doing on this planet. 

Interestingly, Bone even go so far as to probably foresake artistic quality, or temporarily relinquish it, at least, with the awkward portion at the end of the third verse in which Wish Bone, after the aforementioned interrogative, simply sings “I don’t wanna die”; and then lets an awkward, five-second silence carry things into the last chorus. It seems like such an obvious statement, even to the point of being puerile, but, all the same, it’s the extent to which he means it that gives it a certain semantic singularity. 


[1] Mind you, this was the mid-’90s, a time when rap didn’t typically top the overall Billboard 100 — that pretty much started with Jay-Z, Eminem and Ludacris. 


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