Artists need not sound unique to make great music. But the ones who manage to tap into a singular take on melody, harmony, and rhythm are those whose music floats above the sea of sameness. That’s why Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is one of the most distinctive acts in hip-hop history: The instant you hear this Cleveland collective’s combination of sing-songy speed rhyming, gospel-infused harmony, and sucrose-steeped pop hooks, you know it’s Thug music. The two-decade-old group has struggled with internal conflicts, and last year Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone left the quintet. Yet that duo is now touring as Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, which leaves their future with Layzie, Bizzy, and Flesh at the crossroads until all the drama can be resolved. But Bone Thugs has always been able to move from dissonance to consonance—at least in their music.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony perform with Dilemma & Dizzy at 10 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $25. 930.com. (202) 265-0930.