There are a few key players is this thing we call hip hop that greatly influenced who I am, both as a person, and as a listener. E40 is truly an architect in the design that is my musical taste, and has been a fixture in my life since before I can even remember. If you can relate to what I’m sayin’ – this ain’t for you. …but if you can? Enjoy!
…so, just in case there is anyone out there that doesn’t already know you, can you introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from, and a little about what you do.
My name is E-40. I’m one of the oldest, newest rappers in the game. Still relevant. Still current. Still gassin’. Started off independently doin’ my own thang, makin’ a name for myself by word of mouth. Makin’ great music – me and my family the Click. The music spread throughout the soils of America. Got signed with Jive in 1994 – got started off in 1988. Between the 1988 and 1994 gap I was doin’ independent music, sellin’ tapes out the trunk of the car. You understand me? With a one stop called City Hall Records, and music people, and that was our main hub – they collected a lot of orders from all across the globe, all across the country, all down South, Midwest – not too much of the East coast, but some East coast. They was fuckin’ with me. Then what happened was, the name rung, and then I got one of the best deals in the rap game in1994. Signed with Jive Records – they were in a bidding war with Def Jam – every label there was. Def Jam, Jive Records, Capitol, Priority, E.M.I., every label there was. I stayed on Jive Records for 10 years. You know I could go on forever. …you know that right?
I stayed on Jive Records for 10 years. I got off of Jive Records in 03’. …after that I didn’t know what I wanted to do – I ended up signing with Lil Jon, who’s my good friend to this day. We did BME Records, through Warner Brother Records, and was on records with Warner Brothers until last year. Everything was good – and now I got my own thang through my son Droopy label, which is Heavy On The Grind Entertainment. It’s back to the independent grind – in a good way though. We got major distribution from E.M.I. The reason it’s a good thing is because I’m already famous and that was the main reason for me to sign with those major labels – to push, and to be famous, and to get known so that people know that my music is available. Now my music is available and ready to go. March 30th, Heavy On The Grind Entertainment, got that E-40 Revenue Retrievin’ Day Shift and Night Shift, two albums. In stores in 8 days (now 6). HELLO.
Okay. …lemme just take a minute to say, Imma huge fan. I’m from the Bay, born and raised, and I came up on your music. I was singin’ Sprinkle Me long before I knew what Sprinkle Me meant. How does it make you feel when you hear shit like that? That people consider you part of their life, musically speaking.
It makes me feel good. You know, it’s a trip because it’s the younger and the older people – they all got love for me. You know? They all got love for me, and it’s beautiful. God put me on this earth to do music – I started off in the band in 4th grade playin’ drums. A lot of people don’t know that. Me and B-Legit, we were playin’ drums, all throughout high school. You know what I mean?
That’s why I’ve always got a passion for music, it’s not just no ‘get up and just do this’, I been wantin’ to do this from day one. So, it feels beautiful to be able to let people hear what I got to say.
What’s the new double LP lookin’ like? Is it a double LP, or two albums you are releasing at once? The two tracks I’ve heard from it are bangers. What should we be expecting for this project?
It’s two separate albums with two barcodes. Both of the albums coincide with each other. What I mean by that is – it’s a theme to it. Revenue Retrievin’ Day Shift, and Revenue Retrievin’ Night Shift. Which, you got your day time activity and you got your nighttime activity. So at night time, you already know, off tops, you got your – you know. It’s club bangers, you know what I mean? It’s hustlin’. It’s drive by’s. It’s struggle. It’s everything, you smell me? Day Shift – it’s real, with everything that goes on in the day time. You know what I mean? 24/7, we hustlin’. …and when I say hustlin’, I’m not talkin’ about illegal hustlin’ either. It’s not only just that. When you revenue retrievin’ you workin’ every day, you just, you know, tryin’ to retrieve your revenue.
I feel that. …trust me.
(laughter from both parties)
It’s two separate albums. So, side by side in the stores on March 30th.
We always hear people from the South like T.I., Weezy, Gucci, or NY, etc, on the radio, on MTV, basically getting a mainstream/national response. Why do you feel that hip hop from the Bay isn’t on the same level as other locations? Why does the Bay, which has done a lot for hip hop, not get the notoriety other places get?
I don’t know. This is nothin’ towards none of the people you named, cause I got respect for them, but there’s just something about Bay music – when we come with a song, first of all, we way head of our time. You know? The industry has taken a page out of our book for many, many moons. You smell me?
We ahead of our time. When we come with somethin’, they label us like ‘aww, that’s just regional. That’s just Bay shit.’, and that’s been from day one – since we first started. It ain’t just the Hyphy movement or nothin’. It’s just – you won’t have Mobb Muzik goin’ strong. Mobb Muzik. All that shit, it’s just – they just – that’s the Bay. That’s regional (they say). NO IT AIN’T. …whenever somebody else do it – whenever another city do it, ‘it’s worldwide’. It’s like man. C’mon man. What you want man? It’s just – we get hated on, but we the ones that came up with all the lingo. We came up with – we the ones that made up the word player hater. That came from the boy Filthy Phil out in RichmondCalifornia. You know what I’m sayin’? That’s right there in the heart of the Bay. We came up with so many words – people name they rap names after us. You know, just from me sayin’ one line on my song Rappers Ball. Me and Too $hort. When we say “E Feezy, Too Sheezy”, it’s been names named after that. You know what I mean? We got people – actual real rappers names named after that. …and that’s not they fault. That’s just game recognizing game. But I’m sayin’ it ain’t just the fact that, you know, we just get looked over and I don’t know what it is about us. Maybe it’s just – I don’t know. I don’t know, maybe it’s because we too ahead of our time. Sometimes it takes – when you’re too ahead of your time, sometimes it takes a long time for the rest to catch up. Make like Heinz, and catch up.
(an outbreak of laughter follows)
…you got jokes.
Light years ahead. …light years ahead.
In the early 90’s, Vallejo was hawt in terms of hip hop. Mac Mal, Celly Cel, Little Bruce, yourself, Mac Dre, etc. Since it was such a breeding ground for talent at one point, do you ever see it returning to that level?
Yeah. Yeah, there’s some young talent comin’ out of Vallejo. You know, you got yourWillie Joe’s. Yougot Turf Talk. You got the whole SickWidIt organization. J-Diggs over in the Crestside. J-Diggs makin’ a name for himself, you know. It’s a whole bunch of’em man – I just can’t name everybody from Vallejo. The thing about Vallejo, we full of rappers. You know, we full of – everybody everywhere, you know?
Why do you think that is?
It’s just full of talent man. You know, sports wise and all. We some ol’ baseball playin’, 40 ounce drinkin’ cats. That’s one thing about Vallejo, they love drinkin’.
But we – sports wise, CC Sabathia, you know, he plays for the New York Yankees. He’s one of the great players, he’s straight from Vallejo. You smell me? I talk highly about him. You know. Your boy Jeff Gordon. You know, he’s straight from Vallejo. A lot of people don’t know that, but he definitely is. You know, you got 40 and the Click. The late – R.I.P. Mac Dre. The great Mac Dre. You know, Mac Mal. You know? You named a lot of them man. You know, B-Legit, the Click, all of us.
You have such a unique style. I have heard people try and imitate it (unsuccessfully), but I’ve never heard anything quite like it. From your tone, to your terminology, to what you rap about, you’re truly unique. What is it about you that is so different, yet so easily digestible to people?
I think it’s my character. You know, me bein’ a street – I’m straight from the streets. And yeah, everybody wanna call they self from the street. But if anybody read about my discography, you understand? And know about my history, they know that I am a street mothafucka. Fa’sho. …but I’m a character too at the same time. I like to make people laugh and what have you. I’m like a lightweight comedian. I’m a shy comedian though. You know what I mean? I don’t wanna get up there and tell no jokes but, I just – you know what I mean? I was always a student of the game as well. I used to hang out in front of the liquor store and talk to the OG’s. In front of the liquor store. You know what I mean? I’m old school. The OG’s with the bottle of Thunderbird. I’d get game from them, you smell me? But um …I used to be a student of the game. Basically, you could add all that in with E-40’s character and the people I grew up on. I grew up on some cats – first of all I grew up on Too $hort music, cause Too $hort taught you how to – the way Too $hort used to rap and make them homemade tapes for the hustlers in the hood and what not. He would talk about dope fiends, getting’ money in the ghetto, pimpin’. ..yeah, he covered a lot of parts of the game. You know what I mean? It was the same as dudes out of Richmond, which is right next door to Vallejo.
We basically grew up on Calvin T and Magic Mike out of Richmond California. OG rappers from way back. You know what I mean? Them boys was woke. You smell me? It so happened that if you put them in there – you add them, Too $hort, Magic Mike, Calvin T, UTFO, KRS-1, Ice-T. …I would have to say ummm, who else, who else? I would say Run DMC as well. …and Melly Mel. …and Spoony G. You add all them people up, man you got you – did I say UTFO? UTFO. …then you got E-40. I listened to all them, you know what I mean? I just came with an element of that style. And now I have my own style. You know what I mean? I just – I can rap any kinda way. I can get on that hip hop flow if I wanted to. I can do that as well. …but I just choose to do – what I wanna do. It’s a dice roll, but it’s a good dice roll, because you’ll have people who’s gon’ love it, and people that’s gone hate it. You gon’ have people that’s gon’ think – people right now to this day think I’m one of the wackest rappers in the world. Then you got people that – the majority though, you know what I mean? That’s only a hand full. The majority though, they think that I’m one of the best in the world. In my own lane, I am. In my own lane, on some real shit, I feel like I’m the greatest game spitter of all time. I really do. I feel like nobody spit game like me, in they raps, out of 22 years.
I don’t call myself the greatest rapper in the world – cause I don’t know what the greatest rapper in the world means. Everybody got they own little – you know, categories. You see what I’m sayin’? You got some that just spit straight hip hop, that’s great. The best. You know? …as far as back pack. You know what I’m sayin’? I mean, some shit like that – and then you got motherfuckers that. Shit. It’s too many people to name to say who the greatest – I mean, I would say, if anybody was, I would say Tupac. He could tell a lot of parts of the game. He came with a lot of parts – different angles as far as he had uplifting songs for the females. He had up lifting songs like Dear Mama, Brenda’s Got A Baby, Keep Ya Head Up, you know, stuff like that. He had party songs, he had struggle songs for the hood niggas. We tryin’ to make it out the ghetto type songs. He had all type of different angles, and that’s why we clicked. I spit that kinda shit too. A lot of people don’t get a chance to see – hear that type of music outta me, because they hear what’s on the radio. They don’t know my albums – it’s mandatory I got that kinda shit on it. You know what I mean? So. …I don’t know, I could talk to you forever. I got so much to talk about, I’ll talk all day.
I’ll talk to you forever! Shiiiieeeet. I’m on a time limit, otherwise I’d be – it’s not even set by me. Trust me. I’ll be on this phone all day.
…who are you listening to right now?
At this moment? You know what? Right now, just old school music. …I’m talkin’ bout old school r&b – in real life. Like, Earth, Wind, & Fire. Like Curtis Mayfield, you know what I’m sayin’? Like, real. Because that’s the frame of mind I be in – like I can’t listen to rap all the time. You know, I listen to my artists, cause I got so many groups so – that’s where I’m at right now.
Okay, the website is called Your Taste In Music Sucks. Tell me someone whose music you think, well, sucks.
I plead the 5th.
…don’t do that to me!
But – I don’t know. Cause I ain’t been really trippin’. I don’t really know – in my ears it might be some shit – it’s some shit that a lot of people might – that I might don’t like, but I. …my words carry a lot of weight, and everything I say, these days, is documented. So I’d rather just kinda bypass that like surgery.
…when it’s all said and done, what do you want people to know about E Fo’ 0?
Just know that this is music, and I love to do it. Know that I used to – you know I had a song called Practice Looking Hard?
But now I practice bein’ silent – and that’s where it’s at. When people say they keep it one hunnid, I’M one hunnid. I’m rare like a steak. I’m a complete man, ya’ understand? I’m a family man – I’m married, I’ve been married for 19 years, goin’ on 20. I been with my wife since 1984, that’s damn near 26 years, 25 years somethin’ like that.
So that’s what it is. I’m just a dude that’s got fire in my heart, and I know about the struggle, so I go hard on everything I drop. Put 100% in everything, so that’s where I’m at. …and I’m the most humble and hungry dude in this music game. That’s where we at.
In closing, I really want to thank E-40 for taking the time out to do this interview. If you couldn’t tell already, I was pretty geeked about the whole situation. I have never spoken to a musician so animated, humble, unique, and just an all around a good dude before, I don’t think ever (sorry if I’ve interviewed you and you’re reading this, but it’s true, E-40 > you). I think that in music, we make the mistake of looking at what type of person someone is too often, instead of just looking at the music they make. Musicians don’t owe us anything in terms of the type of life they lead. …that being said, we are so quick to point out the negative, and judge them and the things they do and say. I think E-40 is a great and rare example of someone people can look at and not find a bad thing to say about, because dude is just – he’s just it. I can’t think of too many rappers that keep it as real, stay as true to themselves and their craft, hold their family down, and hold their locale down quite like E Fo’ 0. …and being that I am from the same place as him, lemme just say, it makes me HELLA proud. I also want to thank Nate Bland, who co-wrote this interview. Good lookin’ out. One luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuv! Peace.