Killer Klassix: Bone Thugs’n’Harmony- “E. 1999 Eternal”

Rap collective Bone Thugs ’n’ Harmony’s second album showcased some of the most unique and relatable music of its time.


Antonio Llanos, Staff Writer

Nostalgia seems to be the driving factor behind the reminiscence for most individuals and their musical tastes.  I personally attest to mine being an immersion of nostalgia, but for The Courier’s own Devin Oommen, its a rope to his past.  When asking for his recommendation, Devin supported his musical choice stating “I was born in 1991, so naturally artists from the 90s,” particularly “rap artists” in comparison to today’s placed an emphasis on “meaning.”  “My introduction to rap music” originates “from my cousins, plus, its also considered the golden age of rap.  This week, I review Bone Thugs-n-Harmony- “E. 1999 Eternal.”   

Known as the album that put midwestern, Cleveland rap collective, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony in the spotlight, “E. 1999 Eternal” was the second album to be released by the group on July 25, 1995. Historically, the quintet already broke ground in rap for pairing rap-verse prose with poly-melodic rhythmic lyrics and instrumentals. Rather than simply take instrumental samples, which is common place for rappers who chose not to produce their own, Layzie Bone and rap legend Eazy-E (of N.W.A.) collaborated to meld together some of the most unique self-produced and half-sampled backgrounds of the time. 

“East 1999” exhibits the artistry of Bone Thugs as a whole, exhibiting a “grind” culture under the guise of “gang” affiliated scenarios. From the beginning of the track Layzie Bone states, “Thinkin’ ’bout back in the days when the year was ’89/Little n**** on the grind/ gotta get mine, doing my crime/With Toot and Hen, steady stacking my ends,” nostalgically looking back to where they collectively grew up in Cleveland.  Composition of the track is thematic, carried throughout the album. Bone Thugs-n- Harmony collectively compose and pair their individualistic verses using word choice that caters to eased transition from verse to verse, excluding words that could muddle or slow their flow down. In expansion of this artistic choice, Bone Thugs’ are better able to cater to their melodies.  

“Tha Crossroads” is a commemorative track, departing from the harsh and graphic nature of the album entirely, but still carrying the thematic elements. Written for their family members as well as their mentor and producer for the album, Eazy-E, Bone Thugs talk about existentialism through memories of loved ones and tie together through each of the members’ singular verses and then rhythmically bleeding into one another’s verses so as to compliment the last verse. It is also worth noting that the track, however popular it is, is actually a remix of the original track of the album called “Crossroads” in which they actually break down how each of their loved ones passed, but none shine through more in this track than the loss of Eazy-E. Wishbone’s verse sullenly states, “Lil Eazy long gone/Really wish he could come home/But when it’s time to die, gotta go, bye bye/All a lil’ thug could do was cry, cry.” 

“1st of Tha Month” is a melodic reminiscence of harder times.  The song title is a reference to the day of the month when individuals receive their government assistance checks.  While the track may delve into the indulgences and use of drugs and alcohol as means of lessening the impact of the difficulties of everyday life, the subtle message highlights he small things that make rigidity of a full work week worth getting through. 

Starting with the crow of a rooster. Lyrically, Bone Thugs reminisce about the laborious experiences with the only pastime which makes sense at the end of the day– smoking pot. Krayzie bone initiates the verse, “Hey, my n****s, we havin’ a wonderful day/And/ I won’t fuck with me, why? ‘Cause it’s the first of the month/And now we smokin’, jokin’, rollin’ blunts/And sippin’ on 40 ounces, thuggin’.” 

The track is overtly relatable not only on a musical level, but on a personal level. The instrumental track melodically likens to atmospheric passing of everyday activity, blaring cars, mutterings from individuals on phones, random whisps of conversations which bleed into our audio-range. Ultimately moment-based, the track transports you to a time and place we’ve all emotionally lived through.   

“Crept and We Came” takes on an ominous melodic nature. The track is an ironic examination of “kill or be killed.” While predatory in nature, Bone Thugs highlights the predatory nature by which black individuals are targeted by cops and assume a similar nature in order to look out for one another. Background instrumentals frame the track pushing and pulling between poly-rhythmic beats and minor-melodies that musically envelop the listener. Layzie Bone exhibits the true message  of the track stating,“It’s straight up confusing cause n****s be shady/N**** still gotta watch his back daily/Even mo’ lately, but they can’t break little Layzie.” 

Most of the time, things happen that take life and flip it upside down. Depending on the life we lead and how we have learned to handle adversity, we can either stand strong or crumble under the everyday troubles that interrupt our idealistic lives.We spend our days hoping and idealizing the perfect life, but we oftentimes ignore the things right in front of us that are so simple and take little to make us happy. However, if we’re lucky enough to understand the importance, then we can embrace the “eternity” we are meant to inherit, whether it’s on a street in Cleveland, or in our own backyard.