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I don’t know how big Bone Thugs-N-Harmony was in your neck of the woods in the mid to late nineties, but growing up in a suburb around Cleveland (where the group is from), they were everywhere.

It just so happened to coincide with my “hip-hop” phase, which just so happened to coincide with approximately the seventh grade, Tupac and Biggie getting killed, and puberty. I lived in a mostly (92%)¬†white suburb about 45 minutes by interstate from Cleveland, but my friends and classmates laid claim to Bone Thugs all the same.

Looking back on middle school, it’s hard not to think of it as a perfectly odd experience. I was surrounded by wanna-be gangsters, obsessed with the latest Jordans and trends in hip hop culture. And my school wasn’t even the “black” middle school. Yeah, the “black” school still existed back then.

In my hometown, we had a multitude of elementary schools (five or six), which combined into two middle schools, which combined into one high school. A remnant from an even more racist past was the fact that the town was divided in two by a small canal with two bridges.

My side of town was almost entirely white, middle to lower-middle class people. The other side of town, oddly, consisted of almost the entire black population of the city, flanked by upper middle and upper class neighborhoods, the upper class neighborhood being one of those “developments” that seem to sprout like cancer wherever people who fancy themselves to be wealthy live. Projects for white people, where all the houses look the same, and the lawns are all tended by Mexicans.

Anyway, back to my original point, my school was far too white for the kids to be experimenting with blunts and black & milds, let alone to hear “nigga” in the halls, but it happened. The only thing I remember about the day Tupac died was watching a bunch of white trash girls cry. Bone Thugs were everywhere, it was really weird.

Most of these friends and classmates would graduate to Juggalo status by high school, as the natural transition from middle school white hip hop kid, but I continued going through other phases in music. Early high school was System of a Down and Slipknot, and after that a whole conglomeration of whatever I found on the internet, as that was that shining, lawless period when Napster was blooming.

Now, I pretty much listen to whatever. If I don’t like it, I turn it off. If I do like it, I find other things like it. Music is awesome.

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