Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

E 1999 Eternal

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Following the surprise success of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's summer 1994 anthem "Thuggish Ruggish Bone," the group returned a year later with E 1999 Eternal, an impressive debut full-length that dismisses any notion that the group was merely a one-hit wonder. From beginning to end, the album maintains a consistent tone, one that's menacing and somber, produced entirely by DJ U-Neek, a Los Angeles-based producer who frames the songs with dark, smoked-out G-funk beats and synth melodies. The Bone Thugs interweave their voices well, trading off verses and harmonizing on the choruses. There are a few standout moments, most notably the Grammy-winning ballad "Tha Crossroads" and the feel-good welfare ode "1st of the Month," as well as, of course, some obligatory blaze-some-to-this tracks, "Budsmokers Only" and "Buddah Lovaz." The intermittent tracks are good old-fashioned gangsta rap about murder, drugs, and money. In the end, E 1999 Eternal stands as one of the most accomplished, unique hardcore rap albums of the '90s, one that's often unfairly overlooked, if not dismissed entirely, because of the group's subsequent unraveling. [The original release featured a different version of "Tha Crossroads" titled simply "Crossroad" that was quickly replaced by the radio-aired, Grammy-winning "Mo Thug" remix.]

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