Since the dawn of time, there has always been tension between “old school” and “new school.” Nowhere is this shit more common than in the world of hip-hop, though it’s been happening in R&B, too. Where’s the love? Despite the nostalgia we are all coked up on, half the groups we swear to love—just because they’re older—were victims of that very same shit at their inception.
Everybody didn’t always love Public Enemy or N.W.A. They may be legends now, but in their heyday, lots of folks thought they were trash. Tupac is a shining example of this. He is considered a GOAT now, but when he was alive, HALF the folks hated him and thought he was a marginal rapper. Others loved him mostly because of “Dear Mama.” To make it more current, Jacquees said what he said, and all of a sudden niggas are pretending like we ever considered Keith Sweat some kind of King of R&B. Shit, the biggest debate surrounding Sweat isn’t his greatness, but whether or not he can truly sing.
I get it. Respecting one’s elders is important. But the game is different now. You don’t have to be a student of the game to become a success, which means many young artists don’t necessarily feel a need to acknowledge music they don’t care for. (The sound being so different is another reason.) For every A$AP Rocky or J. Cole whose influences are clear, you get Migos and Lil’ Yachty who don’t give a fuck about who they’re supposed to respect.
Which brings us to a competition I’d love to see: Migos vs. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
Almost a year ago, Offset—you know, the Migo most of us hate for many valid reasons—proclaimed Migos was the biggest group ever. Understandably, many rap groups took issue with that. I don’t know where the fuck Layzie Bone was a year ago, but he recently told Offset and the rest of the Migos they need to sit the fuck down because Bone Thugs are the biggest to ever do it. (That’s disputable, of course, but there’s a larger point here.) In regards to Migos, Bone is obviously the bigger group historically. While they don’t get the credit, Bone is as responsible for this melodious “rapping” sound that exists now as anybody else. Migos is influential, sure, but Bone Thugs been sang-rappin’ since the 90s. These new cats are just reinventing the wheel.
Somehow this turned into a challenge issued by Layzie. Since all five members of Bone (Layzie, Krayzie, Wish, Bizzy and Flesh) are still alive, them niggas could legit have a rap battle. I think it would be a tragic bloodbath for Migos (there’s only so many points you can get for ad-libs), but here are a few things to think about before the battle begins:
1. How does one find impartial judges? I can’t envision a single way Migos could win, but I’m 39. I’ll bet a 24-year-old would be like, “Bone sucks and is washed up and there’s no way they could beat Migos.” That sounds dumb to me. Drake? Okay. Migos? Eh.
2. We like to remember Bone Thugs as being better rappers than they were. Prepare yourself, hot takes cometh: “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” is a classic, legendary song but the best part was Tasha. Still, unless you’re from Cleveland, no single member of Bone Thugs would make anybody’s list of top lyricists. I’m not sure who the most talented member of Migos is, though everybody wants to believe it’s Quavo. They all sound the same to me. Meanwhile, Bizzy is probably the most talented Bone, and none of us would hold our breath waiting on him to show up at all, much less on time.
3. Migos are probably worse rappers than their music suggests. Their shit is well produced, and they are as much performers as they are rappers. I can’t imagine what the fuck they’d sound like trying to spit bars, but it would be entertaining for all the wrong reasons.
4. What would they even rap over? Bone’s style and sound is so unique, and Migos is so current. What the fuck would be the middle ground where each agreed to spit several rounds? Do you make Migos rap over “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and Bone spit over “Bad and Boujee,” then have them all spit over “Shook Ones, Pt. II” 8 Mile-style? Does it become like a BET cypher where DJ Premier tries not to look annoyed about how bad the new rappers are as they all attempt to spit over East Flatbush Project’s “Tried by 12”?
5. Migos would just be spitting money talk; Bone Thugs would be spitting “better than you” talk. That’s why I think Bone wins. But I’m not sure any of us would really win. The old heads would get what they want, a win amongst old heads—but none of these young folks are going to see it the same. It would likely be anticlimactic. Picture the last battle scene in 8 Mile—then think of the exact opposite.
Still, I’d pay to see this. Who do we need to talk to in order to make this a Pay-Per-View YouTube event in 2019?