Better than: Partying with tuneless gangsters.
Yes, Thugs is part of this Ohio-born, multi-platinum selling group's name, but make no mistake: This is one of the most emotional acts in rap music. Don't get it twisted: They're surely not soft, but Eazy E's proteges have sampled Fleetwood Mac and Phil Collins, and collaborated with Mariah Carey. Just sayin'.
Backed with a live band that included an outrageously good trumpet player and Lynette aka "Hammondgal" on keys (we recognized the latter as one of the actual musical highlights from Diddy's failed reality show Making His Band), Bone Thugs-n-Harmony offered a set with more vibrant moments than the average DJ-backed rap show Saturday night at Yoshi's.
Though the members reunited with estranged member Bizzy Bone on most recent album Uni5: The World's Enemy, he sadly wasn't present for either of the night's two performances, and isn't on this tour due to reported money disputes. Fortunately, the remaining four Thugs still have a tight chemistry.
Shortly after the group went back into its own work, we heard a Thug say to the crowd, incredulously, "Is one of y'all fighting?"
At first, he joked. "I like that. Choke a nigga!"
But then, it got more serious, and security was called. We soon saw a man, head down and blood leaking out of the side of his face, get quickly pushed out of the room by staff.
"Hey!" exclaimed our friend. "That's the dude who was trying to sell me coke outside!"
"People gotta learn to calm the fuck down and smoke a buddha," said another Thug, and the group launched into its song "Smoking Buddha" in a clever ploy to calm the crowd down. By then, a bunch of ladies had fled the already loose dancefloor and would miss the Thugs' biggest anthems, the debut single "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" and "Tha Crossroads," the latter dedicated to Eazy E.
Personal bias: Been trying to perfect the female vocals in "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" since 1994.
Random detail: The merch table was full of fun shirts to ponder; we considered the purchase of one that said, "Never Keep My Enemies Close 'Cause I Got a Perfect View of 'Em in My Scope."
By the way: We thought it was a little weird that someone representing the band was selling raffle tickets to get a chance to hang out with the Thugs later.