Finding The GOAT Group: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony vs. The Fugees. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’ annual competition series features Hip-Hop’s greatest collectives vying for the #1 spot. Sixty-two groups have been pre-selected by a panel of experts, and one slot will be reserved for a wild-card entry (which has been determined), including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving band of MCs and DJs is neglected. The 2018 contest consists of seven rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, leading to a Top 32, then the Sweet 16 and so on, until one winner is determined. For each match-up, two groups are pitted against one another with a ballot to decide which one advances to the next round. Though there will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and text messages, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot count.
Between 1995 and 1996, Rap music welcomed two new groups to the highest level of the mainstream. Cleveland, Ohio’s Bone Thugs-N-Harmony upped the ante from a celebrated Top 20 1994 EP. Just ahead of mentor Eazy-E’s death, they released the #1 single that would take the group’s brand of Gospel-tinged Gangsta Rap to the top of the charts. Meanwhile, Newark, New Jersey’s Fugees had not experienced much commercial success on their first outing. But by The Score, the trio’s savvy ability to cover classics through singing and sampling, along with a dressed-up take on Underground Rap made them fast favorites. MTV and pop radio embraced both movements. While Bone Thugs stayed the course with a sprawling, (sometimes confusing) discography, The Refugees never followed up that second album. These factors make this an exciting match-up. As Round 2 nears its end, only one of these pop-embraced acts can go forth. You may be the deciding vote.
(defeated Three 6 Mafia in Round 1, 75% to 25%)
From its melodic harmonies and triple-time rapping to an intersection of church and street, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony created a distinct sound at a time when Gangsta Rap seemed formulaic. An architect of the sub-genre, Eazy-E, signed the Ohio group in the early ’90s and spent his final days producing them into super-stardom. Soon after, Biggie, Tupac, and countless others sought out collaborations with Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone, Wish Bone, Bizzy Bone, and sometimes Flesh-N-Bone. Whether a quadruple-platinum Ruthless LP or an under-the-radar indie release, Bone’s quality is rarely a reflection of their platform or resources. Additionally, with a member status always in question, this nearly 30-year-outfit weathers storms better than most. At the crossroads of delivery style and lyrical content, B.T.N.H. are successful Midwest pioneers whose impact continues to show itself.
(defeated Digable Planets in Round 1, 67% to 33%)
In the early 1990s, The Fugees (Formerly known as Tranzlator Crew) formed in South Orange, New Jersey. Members Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras Michel produced a sound that fused elements of Hip-Hop, Soul, and Reggae, all at once. After demos and shows, the trio signed to Ruffhouse/Columbia Records. In 1994, their debut album Blunted On Reality was released. The album was panned, but subsequent remixes showed flashes of the sound and chemistry that would dominate the following two years. After missing the Top 200 in 1994, ’96’s The Score is a chart-topping centerpiece in Hip-Hop’s mainstream boom. Four singles, two Grammys, and reportedly 22 million albums sold worldwide, and The Score was settled to put the Refugee Camp in the GOAT conversation. Few could have ever imagined the moment would serve as the trio’s last full-length. By 1998, the group would eventually split into three successful solo careers. Two reunion appearances and one sanctioned reunion track in 2005 and The Fugees remain a beloved Hip-Hop act that seemingly pulled the plug too soon.
So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.