Album Reviews : BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY *** 1/2, "E.1999 Eternal" Relativity

This Cleveland-based quartet has raised the stakes of the gangsta rap game, not only in terms of pure, gritty excess, but also in rhyme-style, cadence and delivery.

Bone isn't content to just shoot at that next emcee or punk in their neighborhood; they'll harmonize about it too, mixing graphic imagery with old-fashioned street-corner crooning.

Essentially, this is a West Coast-style dancehall record, complete with heavy-looped bass lines, electronic gunshots, warped-out dub sounds and fast-paced rhyming style mixed with harmonizing that the Jamaicans call sing-jeh . No change in subject matter: just bloody shoot-'em braggadocio, laced with ominous piano samples.

This is the kind of album that starts out good and gets better with repeated listenings--as the dark, subliminal references clear up. Easily one of the most worthwhile rap purchases of the year.

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