EWA100 - #83. Bone Thugs -N- Harmony - First of Tha Month

#83. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony - 1st Of Da Month (Ruthless. 1995. From the LP E. 1999 Eternal)

Raven Mack: I think Chris Rock called this shit a welfare carol, and that about sums it up. With R&B and hip hop so morphed together now, and with I think one in every 2.5 album done in the last seven years featuring Nate Dogg somewhere on it, it's easy to lose sight of how fuckin' hilariously awesome it was to have a group where some dude was all gangsta'd out but actually singing. This song, for as sad a subject matter as it is, is undeniably catchy. Which must have been empowering for welfare recipients, to see nice car riding by bumping "IT'S DA FIRST OF DA MONTH....get up get up get up" while you're pushing the baby's stroller down a shitty street. To this day, if you forget to pay attention to calendars like me, you can always tell if it's the first of the month if you accidentally go to the grocery store the Friday right at the first or fifteenth, and there's like nineteen young families strolling through the aisles, talking loud and shit, snot-nosed kids running around lost in the cereal aisle, babies wearing Nikes, and you know welfare checks are in effect. This is not to disparage in any way... my grandma got welfare for a while, and she was first in line at the Wal-Mart Supercenter when that joint got cashed, and I'm a proud WIC-baby myself, though I'd stab a motherfuckin' dude dressed like King Vitamin if I ever met one. That's all my mom would get with her WIC checks when I had sisters, and King Vitamin sucked. What kind of shit is that, being a King Vitamin? Kids want a King of Sugar Rush or Frosted Something Or Other, or at least be a King Cartoon-Based Scummy Cereal Meant To Make You Waste Your Parents Money By Throwing Fits. But a vitamin?
Bone Thugs were from Cleveland, which always struck me as odd because they had what was previously known as more of a west coast or even southern type of flow, but they were from up on the Great Lakes? And the welfare carol is the perfect example of repossessing your crap heritage, like being proud of being from the south or Ireland or calling yourself "nigga", because you take something everybody else would make fun of, flip it and make it seem like it's something that's misunderstood and super-straight-up killer to be. Still, it's welfare, no one should be happy about that shit, but that starts to get into politics and socio-economics and all that nonsense - a completely separate form of EWA that's mad prominent in print and online, and I'd prefer the hip hop be free from that type of crap 99 times out of 100.

Mike Dikk: If you were going for street cred, you would say your favorite Bone Thugs song is “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”. If you wanted to agree with most regular people out there, you’d say your favorite Bone song is “Crossroads”. "1st of Da Month" is the song between the two. Not as overly gangsta and menacing as "Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and not as sweet and sappy as “Crossroads”. I must say, on my own personal list, I’d probably have "Crossroads" on there over "1st of Da Month". It’s still my second favorite Bone song, but if you get over the nonsense parts of "Crossroads", it’s truly Bone’s real moment in the sun.

Like Raven, whenever I see a welfare family in the grocery store, I sing this song in my head. The sad thing is, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that a lot of people who listened and enjoyed this song had no idea what they were talking about. If you ask any typical well-off suburbanite what the fuck the first and fifteenth of each month means, they’d have no real answer. That’s what makes this song amazing. They get a bunch of clueless people singing along to a song about how awesome it is when that WIC check comes. For those that are in the know (and not on welfare), it’s just a real weird topic to have a catchy rap song about. I’d expect something like this as an album cut for one of those third rate No Limit rip-off acts that sprouted up in the late '90s, but to have a hit single off of a ridiculous topic is incredible. Also like Raven, my family was on the WIC for a while, but luckily not when this song came out, so I could appreciate the humor. I don’t think I ever knew anyone that was that joyous about getting the WIC check though.
Outside of this song, Bone were all about coming up with ridiculous shit to rap about and ridiculous gimmicks to go along with them. I like Bone for the most part, but no matter how much I convince myself otherwise, most of the appeal is the novelty behind them, and not the actual songwriting. Like that "Ghetto Cowboy" song with the white rapper Powder B, (“The name’s Powder B son, can I get a 12 gauge. Outlaw, everyday, I’m on the front page”) who came out when every crew was scrambling for a whiteboy to rival Eminem. By all means, that song is fucking awful, but I love it. The same goes for that song they did with Phil Collins….oh, and the weed song….and all the Ouija board nonsense….and “Mr. Bill Collector”….
Oh, and about their crazy fast flow. I never put two and two together that they were biting that from southerners. I know a bunch of people came out of the woodwork to accuse Bone of ripping them off, but I don’t know about that. Those dudes were fucking weird. It seemed to me they just did the weirdest thing they could think of, which was rap incredibly fast for the time. When “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” first came out, I remember me and my friend Jay were so impressed that Jay’s little brother could rap the entire first verse to that song just as fast as they did it. It’s not as impressive anymore, since now there’s quite a few rappers that do that biggetyboppitybooogedyboo shit.

Download: Bone Thugs 'N Harmony - First of Tha Month

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