XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:

Sep. 4, 1996: While the hip-hop world was still mourning the loss of N.W.A founder Eazy-E, his Cleveland protégés, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, were rising to fame. On this day, at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City, the Cleveland, Ohio group performed their hit single and Eazy-E tribute, “Tha Crossroads.”

As one of only three rap performances of the night, BTNH members Bizzy, Flesh, Krayzie, and Layzie dressed in white suits, had a live horse-drawn carriage onstage and gave such a heartfelt rendition of the single, audience members were singing along with ease. Bone Thugs’ performance was regarded as one of the best of the night by viewers at home, alongside other rap performances by LL Cool J, and late rappers Coolio (“Gangsta’s Paradise”) and Tupac Shakur (“California Love”).

Bone Thugs were also up for a moon man trophy that night for Best Rap Video for “Tha Crossroads” but lost to Coolio’s classic visual for “Gangsta’s Paradise” featuring L.V.

Twenty-eight years later, after their performance at the VMAs, the city of Cleveland honored BTNH on August 11, 2023 by renaming the intersection of East 99th Street and St. Clair Avenue in their old neighborhood to “Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Way.” Hundreds of fans gathered to watch the old street sign be replaced with a new one featuring a photo of the rap quintet.

In the end, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony delivered a memorable performance at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards and their music still continues to impact the world.

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Author: Sidney Madden
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