1995. I was 14 years old and already considered a “juvenile delinquent,” doing “hood-rat” things with my friends – like swiftly and boldly lifting some of my favorite albums on cassette tape and CDs from Tower Records.
In a year where Hip-Hop was churning out classic after classic from the East Coast, (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Return To The 36 Chambers, Liquid Swords, Smif-N-Wessun’s Dah Shinin’, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, Show & A.G.’s Goodfellas and Group Home’s Livin’ Proof) – one album got lost amidst the Beast Coast shuffle: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony‘s debut LP, E. 1999 Eternal.
Released 20 years ago to the day (July 25th, 1995) – BT&H’s follow up to their 1994 EP Creepin on ah Come Up was another project that introduced me to the smooth, funky sounds of the Midwest. Although the subgenre known as “G-funk” originated in the late 80s/early 90s via the West Coast – many considered this album to fly the G-funk banner.
This makes total sense, considering the enormous role Eazy-E played in the quintet’s career, vision and sound. While I’ll spare you the details on the exact history between Eric Wright and BT&H, I will remind y’all that they were signed to the former’s Ruthless Records imprint.
LA-raised DJ U-Neek was responsible for the dark, menacing funky sounds on E. 1999 Eternal which featured lots of references to the occult, including an insert in the album’s sleeve (see below), which, when flipped horizontally or held to a mirror, read an inverted “Ouija curse.”
Aside from the anthemic, welfare-check-themed “1st of tha Month” and Bizzy Bone’s harmonious verse on the Mo-Thug remix “Tha Crossroads” which became a chart-topping single (and played over and over on The Box), the album was packed full of bangers and even some wicked interludes. Bizzy, Wish, Flesh, Krazyie and Lazyie Bone’s rapid fire flow, to some extent, mimicked Twista (even resulting in some beef). Similarities in flows aside, all five rappers each had their own flavor and eventually created a genuine cult following.
Twenty years later, I still find myself returning to this Grammy-nominated album time after time, volume crunk up to the max. Just as it’s album’s name sake, Bone Thug’s debut classic will remain eternal in the annals of rap music – just as the previously mentioned albums mentioned in the first paragraph.
 Not to be mistaken with the original cut, “Crossroad” as heard on the first pressings of the album.
 I must have ordered this at least 10 times. Phone bills went up and out came the belt for some punishing whipping from Mom dukes.
 How this album lost to Naughty By Nature’s Poverty’s Paradise at the ’96 Grammys is beyond me.