Keepin' it real at 99th & St. Clair

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
Being the poorest city in the nation apparently has some Clevelanders bummed out, especially the ones waiting in an unemployment line. But, according to some white kids from the suburbs who like rap, at least "that's keepin' it real, homie!" For the second time in the past few months, an out-of-towner has asked me if I've ever been to East 99th and St. Clair, the intersection that birthed and was made famous by rappers Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. In this case he was a short Jewish kid with curly red hair and glasses from suburban Philadelphia, who thinks he's a rapper and claims to have lots of "hos." I admittedly felt a bit silly, having lived in Cleveland all my life, yet never have seen some of our greatest treasures, like the morgue or a meeting of the Lupus Society. So I decided to finally make the trip. I have to say I was a bit disappointed. You see, there's nothing at East 99th and St. Clair, except a few boarded up buildings, some trash on the street, and a few really sad and jobless-looking people. It looked mysteriously like the rest of Cleveland. What a drag! So I decided to ask a resident when the next tour bus was stopping by. But all he could talk about was poverty and drugs. "That's all we got," said Clyde, an aspiring rapper himself. "This is the bottom." Clyde does remember two dumb white kids from Euclid who once rode a bike down his street — one kid peddling, the other on the handle bars -- to see where their idols grew up. Then someone stole the bike, just to make sure the kids knew they were keeping it real. —Jared Klaus
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