’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Tha Crossroads”
The ninety-eighth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Tha Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, a quintet from Cleveland that created some of history’s most innovative Hip-Hop music. Prior to “The Crossroads,” Bone Thugs-n-Harmony had sent five songs onto the Billboard Hot 100, the most successful being “1st Of Tha Month,” which spent three weeks at a No. 14 peak in September 1995. “Tha Crossroads” was the group’s first chart-topper; following its success, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony would go on to have five more hits, the most recent being 2007’s No. 6-peaking “I Tried” featuring Akon.
“Tha Crossroads” is a tribute to loved ones who’ve died, similar (in that sense) to “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, which had wrapped up its record-breaking 16-week stay at No. 1 just two months prior. Guess we had some grief to get off our chests back in the mid-’90s? “Tha Crossroads” was ahead of its time for featuring vocal delivery that blurred the line between singing and rapping, a practice that’s now commonplace but that in 1996 had been explored only loosely by acts such as Arrested Development. “Tha Crossroads” also uses the group’s signature melody of hopping across fourth intervals.
Take a few minutes to listen to “Tha Crossroads”:
What a great song. We’re finding with this ’90s No. 1s Revisited series that we appreciate ’90s Hip-Hop more than we did at the time, perhaps because it’s so much better than what we’re presented with today. Nothing against Future, Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill, Bryson Tiller and Migos, it’s just that their music is terrible because no one involved in creating their recordings has any talent or taste.
This track accomplishes what “See You Again” tried to accomplish 20 years later, which is to make a sensitive Hip-Hop track, a tricky feat because of how little wiggle room there is to wind up with something not cheesy. This track came off as authentic and sincere, hitting the airwaves during the height of when Hip-Hop portrayed urban poverty and the universal struggles therein. This track may have had broader appeal due to the fact that death is universal.
Does it hold up? We’d say so, and even the Sesame Street gang agrees; this video went viral last year.
Dopeness: 4 out of 5 Birkenstocks
8 weeks at No. 1, starting May 18, 1996
Preceded by: “Always Be My Baby,” Mariah Carey
Followed by: “How Do U Want It” / “California Love,” 2Pac f/ K-Ci & JoJo and Dr. Dre
’90s No. 1s Revisited is a regular feature on “Was It Dope?” where we walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?