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Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Rep Midwest, Outkast's 'ATLiens' Gets Tribute at Atlanta's A3C Festival 2016

Prince Williams/WireImage
Flesh-N-Bone, Pozition, Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Backstage at the A3C Festival Main Stage on Oct. 8, 2016 in Atlanta.

A group of young women walked the length of Atlanta’s Edgewood Avenue Saturday afternoon (Oct. 8). Although the sun was still out and the A3C Festival grounds had just opened for business, these attendees in particular were already thinking of the headliner.

“Midwest shit!” one screamed out. The other three parroted her, “Midwest shit! Midwest shit!,” before dissolving into giggles.

Yes, indeed. Saturday afternoon’s 1996 stage by Mass Appeal was one of the most anticipated all week. Somehow, festival organizers found a way to not only bring the OG rap veterans down to A3C from across the nation, but they also incorporated a ton of younger artists to do a tribute set to the critically acclaimed 1996 Outkast album, ATLiens.

Redman was the first artist to hit the stage, and as the crowd filed in, Funk Doc sprung into classic joints like “Pick It Up” and “Tonight’s Da Night.” He leapt across the platform, never missing a syllable -- clear and polished with his delivery and the audience was enthralled. The energy of the space resonated, although it was still early. At one point, testing crowd participation, Red asked everyone to throw a middle digit in the air and all complied. One woman was hesitant and he called her out on the mic.

“What you mean you can’t do that? Yeah, you too. Put that finger up,” he grinned, then, “Say ‘F--k you, Redman!’”

He moved into “I’ll Bee Dat” and “Da Goodness,” from his 1999 LP Doc’s the Name 2000. The executive producer of that album, Erick Sermon, was also on the 1996 bill. But Keith Murray dropped in first and Red graciously shared his set with his Def Squad brother. “The Most Beautifullest Thing” rang out through the grounds and everyone bobbed. Once Sermon evened the crowd out with “Music,” some waited in anticipation to get live all over again and Red fulfilled that desire.

“I’m gonna do a song now and I want y’all to do Method Man’s part. Aiight? If y’all can’t, I’ma tell Meth when we get back to New York.”

One young man within earshot was overheard, “It’s ‘Rockwilder.’ It’s ‘Rockwilder.’” His friend nodded. “It’s gotta be. It’s gotta be ‘Rockwilder,’” he repeated incessantly. The opening bass notes dropped and the crowd seemed to drop and rise in unison. It was pretty awesome.

Between sets, frequent Big K.R.I.T. collaborator Big Sant was spotted close to a table where Bun B greeted fans. A few feet away, some industry heads pondered as to whether or not this meant that K.R.I.T. would be joining the Texas legend onstage. That wouldn’t be the case, although the Trill OG did knock out his verse to “Country Shit.” He also performed his verse from Webbie’s “Gimme That.”

With the ease of a seasoned emcee, Bun moved through “Pushin’,” “Let Me See It” and “You’re Everything.” This crowd of festival-goers was much more laid back, the smell of weed wafted through the air and as his set went on, the scent grew stronger. It wasn’t until “International Players Anthem (I Choose You)” where people seemed to shake out of their trance and hit a two-step collectively.

The ATLiens tribute followed Bun B’s set and whoever organized the stage put some major thought into this one. From older artists like Chase N Cash to brand new emcees (Chilly Chills) and those in the middle, like 3D Natee, the entire lineup showcased rappers reciting the lyrics to the entire album before a live band. Scotty ATL had a standout performance of “Mainstream” and while ATLiens isn’t the type of album one would jump around to, the vibe is powerful enough where many simply swayed and rapped along.

Too Short was up next, repping for the West Coast and his fans came out in droves. He performed a catalog spanning his entire career -- from 1987’s “Freaky Tales” and “Don’t Fight the Feeling” to his verse on Wiz Khalifa’s “On My Level.” Next to Def Squad, Too Short had the most energetic crowd all night. Music fans know exactly what to expect from the Oakland pioneer.

“Only two things I want from all the ladies,” he started. “I wanna see some asses wiggling and some titties bouncing.”

The beat from “Shake That Monkey” vibrated from the stage through the audience and women gleefully followed orders.

”Thirty years later baby,” Short shared. “Some of y’all n----s was like little ass kids in the car seat bumping Too Short, your momma and daddy was bumping Too Short, which means you been bumping Too Short your whole muthaf---ing life and all I gotta say is that I truly do appreciate that shit y’all. I appreciate the career I’ve had.”  

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony capped off the 1996 stage with a number of hits, albeit missing a couple members, but Krazy Bone, Flesh N Bone and Layzie Bone were in attendance. As suspected, people filled the festival grounds for Bone Thugs and they all seemed to be from the Midwest.

There were a few instances where attendees were overheard wistfully reflecting, “Man, I was a kid when this came out. Man!” The group had a DJ that did much more talking onstage than they would but the threesome still put on a solid show. From “First of the Month” to “Crossroads,” “For the Love of Money” to “Notorious Thugs,” Bone held it down. The perfect end to an evening proving that with the right people, 1996 can honestly feel like yesterday.