Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Eternal” Classic 15 Years Later

Earlier this week, I wrote about the 16th anniversary of the first Gravediggaz album, 6 Feet Deep, and how much I loved the record back in 1994, and still do in 2010. What I didn’t realize while waxing sentimental over 6 Feet Deep, though, was that another classic rap album’s anniversary was approaching, that of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s E. 1999 Eternal.

Back on August 15, 1995, the Cleveland, Ohio foursome’s official full-length debut, following their 1994 EP Creepin’ on ah Come Up, first impacted. While my personal tastes are more Gravediggaz than Bone Thugs, I can still proudly divulge that I purchased E. 1999 Eternal the day it hit stores, just as I did with Creepin’ on ah Come Up. Back then, I was a grade school hip-hop fiend who’d do odd jobs around the house just to earn enough dollars to pay visits to Sam Goody and (Nobody Beats) The Wiz every Tuesday. My parents used to get mad at the fact that all of my money earned went right into buying cassette tapes and CDs, but what did they know? I was an addict, and the fix had to be satiated on a weekly basis.

When the majority of folks think back on E. 1999 Eternal, “Tha Crossroads” starts playing in their respective mind’s background. Which makes sense—it was impossible to avoid that song back in ’95. For me, though, the preferred gateway into E. 1999 Eternal is “1st of Tha Month,” still my favorite Bone Thugs single to date. Though Bone members Bizzy, Layzie, Wish and Krayzie deserve all the acclaim they’ve received for the album, I’m quicker to give props to the producer of all 17 tracks, DJ U-Neek.

DJ Uneek

DJ Uneek

U-Neek’s beat on “1st of Tha Month” remains as emotive and sad today as it felt 15 years ago. The wah-wah synthesizers, that sound like they’re crying in desperation, pierce the heart, giving a slick contrast to the Bone guys’ optimism—living off of welfare checks may not be ideal, but, damn it, they’re making the best of things.

The notion of picking “1st of Tha Month” and “Tha Crossroads” as the album’s singles makes perfect sense once you run through the remainder of E. 1999 Eternal. Outside of those two cuts, the record is a sinister listen. U-Neek’s production leans toward alarming church organ melodies and shrill synths, clearly influenced by the music of Bone’s late mentor Eazy-E. The intentions of songs like “Die, Die, Die” and “Mo’ Murda” need no explanation, the latter being one of my choice cuts thanks largely in part to the satanic chant that underscores the hook.

Imagine the faces of the young suburban and upper-class kids who bought the album, off the strength of “Tha Crossroads,” and let the disc proceed without skips, allowing the “Me Killa” skit to play. N-bombs left and right; lines such as “had to put that slug up in your chest, shoulda wore that vest” presented in a barbershop quartet-like chorus.

The first song I revisited this week was “Down ’71 (The Getaway),” the album’s best inclusion (in my ears). It’s the track I used to play for friends who underestimated Bone Thugs after hearing “Tha Crossroads” a million times a day, which led to skeptical opinions in regards to the group’s overall product. There’s a strong parallel between “Down ’71 (The Getaway)” and Gravediggaz “Diary of a Madman” (I made no mystery of my affinity for that Gravediggaz gem in my earlier post); maybe that’s why I’m so pro-”Getaway.” It’s the most cinematic song on E. 1999 Eternal, the closest the LP comes to a concept record, framed as a courtroom scene that culminates in a “death penalty” verdict. And it goes extremely hard.

Though I’m unmistakably an underground advocate and a lover of all things DJ Premier/The Rza/Pete Rock, I’ve respected Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s unique brand of rap music since day one, and E. 1999 Eternal deserves more applause than it has received over the last 15 years. Here’s an idea for an anniversary gift: find a copy of the album and give it a proper spin or two. If anything, skip right to “Down ’71 (The Getaway).” There’s plenty more than crossroads and fast raps to be heard. —Matt Barone

  • Mikey F Baby

    For the record, 1st of tha Month is one of my fav 3 songs EVER

    • Mikey F Baby

      Oh yeah and the F stands for faggot. Because thats what I am. Feed me dicks please.

  • Shawn Morrison

    Bone is made up of 5 members, not 4. E.1999 Eternal featured all 5 members. Flesh isnt on the cover because of stints with the law. he’s just as much part of the group as the rest of em. in fact, back then i used to skip to his parts a lot.

    E1999 Eternal is definitely a hip hop classic. listen to music before and after E1999 Eternal. if you listen to it today it sounds like it just came out… go pick it up and see …

    Peace!

    • DlCK SHlTMAN

      This is Dick Shitman reporting live. It seems as though I’m responding to the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever read. Kill yourself. Kill yourself and die. You fucking lunatic.

      • BTNH4LIFE

        hell yea bone foe life wat them people who underrate em think…they dnt knw true music n wat bone did for hip hop

  • Hussle’s Way

    BTNH’s E99 = Straight Classic

  • Q461

    Bone used to be one of hip-hops biggest groups no doubt….This album got some fire on it besides first of the month and crossroads…….sucks they kinda fell off though…. I heard Stalley wants to fuck with them on some reppin Cleveland shit… could be interesting

    • Jean-o

      that would be dope

  • Zero

    Lest y’all forget, crossroads wasn’t on E.99′s first release. They did another release of the album with crossroads cuz of the popularity.

    Although E.99 is one of the ALL TIME classics to me, am I the only one out there who can’t stand crossroads? I wish I had my original copy of the album.

    • General

      Actually “Crossroads” was on the original version, but the song “tha Crossroads” that got big on the radio was a remix that got huge and so the replaced the original version and re released the CD, which is sad because the original version was much better…

      • JbzTheTruth

        I was really pissed when I re-bought E. 1999 Eternal, after I lost my original copy. It took a long time at used cd shops to find a copy that still had crossroads on it. Tha Crossroads was a great song, but it doesn’t come close to crossroads. The sheer emotion, and gritty-ness of the song is out of this world…. Wish’s part always stuck with me. “And I gotta give hate to ya gangstas out there fakin’ the funk, actin’ like you got a problem, but your just too goddamned drunk. Put down your forties, pick up your fists, and handle that shit like men, ’cause too many punks out there pumpin’, thinkin’ your gat is your friend”

        • Mr. West

          And Wally even though ya gone ya still got love from BONE ma nigga jsut miss ya so, so, so and Ill see you @ the croos roads.

          Creeping On Uh Come up, E.1999, Art of WAR classics!
          and their last 3 albums have been on point…just listen to em.

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  • Anonymous

    …do you see Eazy looking out of the window?

  • william Lee

    I had the original tape w/o Crossroad on it and not Tha Crossroads. And for the record Crossroad>>>Tha Crossroads. The original fit more in the scheme of the album. Eternal was dope Mr. Bill Collector is a fave. Shotz to Double Glock OMG I’m going to have to dig this tape out the box and give it some play.

    • JbzTheTruth

      Co-sign.

      I understand them re-releasing E. 1999 with Tha Crossroads on it, but did they really have to take Crossroads off? It absolutely meshed better with the rest of the songs. Sadly, if some young’n decides to cop it today, he’ll never know how it sounded in it’s original entirety.

      *-And That’s The Truth-*

  • General

    BTW that Getaway track was and still is ridiculous…

    I remember listening to that shit the day it came out

  • Hannibal Cannibal

    Man I love that Album. I slept at first, being too east coast centric but my people bumped it non stop and i got hooked. Layzie Bone spitting over the gunshots on getaway down 71 is insane. When people speak about flows they talk about Biggie but Bone were insane when it comes to ridin the beat. Them and Brotha Lynch Hung ride the beat like nobody else. I remember Mo Murda, my favorite joint got some press cuz some kid killed a sheriff after listening to that song for like 8 hours straight. IT’s JUST MUSIC PEOPLE! classic though

  • GregSIDE

    East 1999 my niggas….

    • Turk Boomshiner

      NIGGA FUCK YOU!

  • FleshThaBest

    No doubt the best rap album ever.

    • FleshThaWorst

      No doubt you the gayest nigga on earth.

  • kedordu

    GRAVEDIGGAS IS NOT A CLASSIC ALBUM . THIS IS A CLASSIC ALBUM THAT CHANGED MODERN MUSIC . THEIR FIRST 3 ALBUMS WHERE LIKE CLASSIC BOMBS TO ME . THE ART OR WAR IS A CLASSIC DOUBLE LP . UP THERE WITH ALL EYES ON ME , WU FOREVER , LIFE AFTER DEATH , G FUNK CLASSICS VOL 1 AND 2

  • Mikey F Baby

    I listened to E. 1999 Eternal today. thanks!

  • mattyb

    Just gave my E. 1999 a full spin today drivin, gonna be one of those cd’s I keep till the day I die

  • detroit by way of 6mile

    truthfully i been bumping this for about a week straight i wasn’t old enough to understand the fast lyrics back then but i went and got it and off rip mr.bill collector is better than everything out now not 2 knock him but ppl think drake doing something new with melodies and flows but bone is the originators and the best to do double time lyrics better than twista do or die crucial conflict whoever rap fast bone better

    • NIGGA U PUSSY

      fuck detroit

      dick suckin nigga
      fuck yo family to

  • born to SHINE

    I can’t even believe its been 15 years! Daamn, this album was one of the first I ever got. i was like 12 and tricked my pops into buying it for me. I told him Bone was a gospel group and when he saw the video for Crossroads he believed me. U should’ve seen his face the day he heard me bumpin Shots To the Double Glock, lol Good times! And I knew this whole album word for word front to back back to front. It didnt even matter how fast they could rap. Still got this on rotation on the iPod and it’s still better than everything thats been out. Dope dope record

  • born to SHINE

    yoooo Krayzie’s verse on Down 71 was craaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkkkkkkk! I almost forgot how hard that verse was. If u pay attention to the whole story, they thought those verses out flawlessly! Like, the whole shit actually makes perfect sense! When was the last time u heard a song with a theme and had verses that matched the theme and made sense all in sequence?! Yo ain’t nobody better than my guys. Classic rap music, timeless

  • Anonymous

    yea krazy is sick on the track…but bizzy…one of the most talented and unique rappers ever….can we really debate that?

    • Umm yea…

      So is Krayzie, you fool… You just ain’t heard enough of their music. All the Bone’s are better than most people in the rap game. And Krayzie and Bizzy are 2 of THE greatest of all time. Can we really debate that?

  • born to SHINE

    Funny u say that homie, cuz to be honest I had this argument countless times over the years. When Bone first came out, Bizzy was hands down the dopest rapper alive to me. Cuz he had this young, wild, don’t give a fuck, do what i wanna do, cool dude vibe to him and it all came across on the tracks and the videos. And dude’s voice is real unique. But when I started to understand flows and hooks and u know, music overall, I started to be a Krayzie Bone fan a lil more. So they both have their own strengths. Lyrically Krayzie Bone got it son. like, most of his verses especially when Bone first came out, are unknown classics. But Bizzy’s voice combined with his charisma on the mic put him right there next to Krayzie. So it’s a toss up lol

    • Lowedwn

      co-sign…as young nigga(13-15)Bizzy was hands down the shit, with Krayzie as close 2nd, but as time wore on Kray started to edge him out, he was more lyrically solid and as he got older Bizzy’s verses gotta alot harder to decipher.

  • MLK was a true king

    Fuck you with this racist bullshit trying to act like white people are worth anything. XXL needs to shut down for giving shine to any white people. This shit is supposed to be about BLACK POWER not acting like a house negro any time massa comes a knockin’. Fuck you. Burn in hell white piece of shit devil.

    • Uhhh what?

      Funny how there was no racial tension in here until YOU posted that comment. XXLmag isn’t about “Black Power” or “giving shine to white people”, it is about the music. It doesn’t matter what race you are if you can make good, truthful music.

      Why hate white people when there are plenty of good people out there? When I see a crazy black person on COPS or something, I don’t go “omg another black scumbag” I think “oh theres a HUMAN being who needs some help”, the same goes for white people, and people of any race.

      There is no bad devil white people, or black people, only HUMANS who commit bad crimes/sins. Hating an entire race for the actions of a few just shows your ignorance, and it really doesn’t benefit you in any way.

      • XXL Staff

        Uhhh what? please stop with your bullshit white propaganda. Thank you. Leave.

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  • M. Baby!

    E. 1999 Classic, that’s all I gotta say.

    • Fart Buckweather

      U GAY NIGGA DATZ ALL I GOT TO SAY

  • dat nigga waka flocka

    yyyyyyyeeeeaaaaahhhhhhhh

    oh

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    do

    itttttt

    ay

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    do

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    yyyyyyeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

    drug dealin musik

    ay

    i influence

    ay

    i influence

    • dat nigga waka flocka

      lol :)

  • dat nigga waka flocka

    lock my ceo up

    now its back to coca

    nigga tockin shit bra

    hangim by da ropa

    call me waka flocka

    call dat shit hot lama

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    gjept5uhg5ug9pvzhue9pg
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    hs45nug09enhp;4onh
    drtjsp5gjsgj[serijgeigt
    gt0j35p9gj45′igj[

    oh leh do ittttttt

  • Lowedwn

    O.G. Crossroads > Tha Crossroads(remix)…The original harmonies shit on the remix, and that’s saying a lot.

  • Anonymous

    1234567890asdfghjk

  • http://www.emcdl.com EmCDL

    Bone Thugs N’ Harmony in a league of their own, they constantly coming out with heaters. I wasnt really feeling that album they did with Swizz Beatz though…sound funny as hell on his tracks. But they still running strong music-wise, regardless of any internal strife they have. I got their Greatest Hits collection and will be bumpin’ that ish today.

    • X X L

      Please take that dick out of your mouth and never come back to this site. You dont know what youre talking about. Dumb faggot.

    • Perm McSoopafly

      what a dumb fuck btnh is gay as gay ppl havin gay sex u gay ass nigga

  • X X L

    Agreed

  • X X L

    LOL

  • ryu

    hadouken!

  • throwback

    Classic album…..you dont have to skip a single song on that album…..best song IMO is the mo murda track

  • 619

    Got heavy rotation in Jr. High. Nobody mention Mr. Bill Collecter. Mr. Ouija, Getaway, First of tha Month all bangers.

    • 619

      Damn, forgot Mo Murda, Budsmokers Only, and Buddah Lovers. They sampled Earth, Wind, and Fire’s ‘Reasons’ for one of those weed smokin’ joints. Smooth shit.

      • 619

        Ah a couple people did mention Mr. Bill Collecter. Nobody mentioned Budsmokers Only or Buddah Lovers. Remember ‘Me No Surrender’ that was my shit.

  • http://www.kimuratube.com Krayzie Washup

    Smoked a blunt with Krayzie recently. Sux cause he’s on loser status. Niggaz won a grammy!

    • 84slugga

      i thought buddy had to quit smokin cuz of his collapsed lung…..i figured he would start back

  • jim

    True Classic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mannnn

    dj uneek wasnt the only producer man, read the fuckin book, stop hypin that nigga up

  • dirtyjerzy

    My favorite rap group of all time. Met Krayzie Bone back in April. These dudes deserve more props than they get. E.1999 is one of Hip Hop’s greatest albums ever! Im glad they are back together, Dr Dre needs to sign them to AfterMath Records!

  • JDS

    The producer of all 17 tracks, DJ Uneek? What about Tony C, who “co-produced” (meaning he produced the album, then Uneek stole credit like he always does) half the album…as the credits indicate? Or Kenny McCloud as well? I’ll remind you that Tony C won a lawsuit against U-Neek for also stealing the “Look Into My Eyes” and “Thug Luv” beats.

    What a joke. Has their been any producer so horrendously overrated for essentially programming drums and taking credit for other people’s work?

  • chico tre

    thomas lindley (blanca/mistaluvaman/scummieboi247) get off the computer and get a life nigga quit hatin faggot we see you hatin on bone thugs all over e 1999 eternal nigga 4ever

  • chico tre

    we see you thomas lindley you reap what you sow we all know about you hatin on bone thugs all day for 5 years just because they beefed with some chicago niggas 13 years ago on some he say shit give up we all know that you are blanca/mistaluvaman/scummieboi247 off so many other websites you got no life now do the right thing nigga be truthful you are delusional and a loser peace to the gods and the earth

  • chico tre

    thomas lindley/scummieboi247 is the same one who posted a screenshot and disqualified bones chances of winning xxl magazine cover of the year and then decade earlier this year on this same website xxlmag you reap what you sow nigga apologize and they may forgive you

  • Eazy E tha OG

    Notice that all of the negative comments are coming from one person, Thomas Lindley. He uses the names Blanca/Mistaluvaman/Scummieboi247 on the internet.

  • Bol’s #1 Fan Stan

    one of my fave albums ever. Mo Murda still bumps.

  • honestly

    1 of da worst albums all time nigga thats on god

  • chicotre

    thomas lindley get off of your moms computer and stop hating.

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  • ba-aja dark

    this was one of the gretest rap albums ever.

  • OnSomeOtherShit

    if not one of the greatest rap albums plus btnh has 2 of the greatest rappers to ever bless the mic BIZZY and KRAYZIE name 1 thats fucking with them krayzie still putting out shit that kills everyone in the game and bizzy still has it truly the greatest they also have one of the biggest fan base just go to one of there shows craziest and most packed show you will ever witness