This Sunday night (the third of the month), Cleveland rap innovators Bone Thugs-N-Harmony return to The Observatory. We always love seeing the group as, along with a catalog packed with classics, they put on a great show as they're some of the most charismatic harmonious entities to ever share a group. At Burgerama last March, this cadre of Cleveland's finest emcees destroyed the stage when it was their turn to perfrom. But while when some people first hear the name Bone Thugs-N-Harmony they think of "Tha Crossroads" or "1st of the Month" or perhaps even the group's solo work like Krayzie Bone's "Thug Mentality" or his assist on Chamillionaire's "Ridin' Dirty," we at the Weekly have a very special connection to a Bone family ditty.
There's nothing like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. There's also nothing like money in Ziploc bag. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
To some of you, a tidal wave of treasure late night memories just splashed across your brain. To everyone else, I'm almost jealous that you get to experience this for the first time. So please, clear out all distractions, shut the blinds to simulate darkness, turn the lights down low and watch the following video after the jump.
That clip became one of the most important rap videos of the new millennium. Here's why.
Recall, if you will, the music industry of 2000. More people were spending money on music than absolutely any other time in recorded history. Ever. People has an insatiable hunger for as much musical content as possible, and one of the main music video outlets on television was BET, which had recently been acquired by Viacom. This acquisition lead to certain programs and regulations being retooled, with one of the most visible changes happening to Rap City. The longstanding afternoon block of rap video had been a signature program for the network as well as appointment television for hip-hop fans across the nation. Instead of the VJs introducing clips from different locations that varied on an episode-to-episode basis, the program was now in Big Tigga's basement. While the production values were a step up, the show did lose a bit of its local flavor, especially evident with the slow removal of independent and underground videos.
Fortunately, in 2001 the powers-that-be created BET: Uncut, an hour at the end of the network's broadcast day (3:00 AM/2:00 AM CT) of nothing but back-to-back rap videos whose content (and sometimes quality) meant they couldn't be played at any other time. This meant that any local underground hero could get nationwide exposure as long as his video had some booty or moderately-explicit adult content in it. While the show started out with a bevy of up-and-comers who were still making their names, one clip became the first "must see" Uncut clip. Joker the Bailbondsman's "Money in a Ziploc Bag."
Joker, an Alaska-based MC, was joined by Bizzy Bone, the first "big name" rapper to have a clip on the program. The dusty shot-on-video look of the clip made the low budget limitations become an intriguing aesthetic as, how could Bizzy be on something like this? But matching the budgetless imagery is the eeriely smooth production. There's something fantastically sinister about the whole entity.
Now, given the late night time slot the video had, imagine coming home after a long night or perhaps channel surfing during a bout of insomnia. Suddenly, you see a video of Bizzy Bone infectiously rapping about money in a Ziploc bag. The whole time, given the timeslot, you continue to watch in disbelief wondering if this moment was really happening. The next day you tell your friends, and they don't believe you. Pre-YouTube, the only options are to record it on VHS yourself or convince them to stay up to see it. Either way, this is going to result you and your friends getting sucked further into the BET: Uncut abyss, a journey that would soon include Mighty Casey discussing the merits of "White Girls," Black Jesus investigating "What That Thing Smell Like" and Nelly running a credit card through…well, let's just say it was one of hip-hop's finest eras.
There was nothing like it. It's comparable to money in a Ziploc bag in that way.