E-40 is back in a major way, just like his 1990s album. With his Revenue Retrievin’ albums, Overtime Shift and Graveyard Shift, dropping in days, we had a long sitdown with the Bay Area legend. So long, we chopped it into a two-parter.
In part 1, which we posted last week, 40 spoke to us about where the whole Revenue series came from and where it’s going to individual tracks and features all the way to how he’s groomed his son Droop-E for his rap sh** from his very early years. Now, in part 2, the Ambassador of the Bay takes us on a ride through history. He covers a variety of topics, including why he feels like the most underrated rapper of all-time; how he got the Ambassador title; his favorite album of his career; his accomplishments and failures; and even the future.
Everyone knows E-40 is a veteran of 24 years in hip-hop, but until you actually sit back and talk to him about it, you don’t even realize the magnitude of his greatness and how he’s been able to keep it together all these years.
So, E-40, if you’re reading this: Salute! Over two decades is quite an accomplishment, and we hope you keep on for two more.
BallerStatus.com: Your bio says you’re the most underrated rapper of all-time. To what extent do you believe that this is true and why?
E-40: It’s the truth. It’s the truth, because I’ve put in so much work. I got platinum and gold records, but at the same time, I feel like I’m appreciated and underrated. I’m hella ahead of my time [for] a lot of things — subject matters, styles, slang words, and just overall. I’ve been ahead of my time, you know? I did this years ago and sometimes it can just go over a lot of people’s heads. So, some of my biggest fans are the fans that didn’t like my style, my rap style, twenty-something years ago, you know what I mean? Now they’re my biggest fans because after they started going through the things that I’m talking about, or other people around them going through what I talk about on my raps, then they started relating; they started to understand. Some people just got it instantly, some people just got it right off top, some didn’t and the ones that didn’t became my biggest fans later on.
That’s just one of those situations where I’m not griping or nothing, I am the most underrated and it’s okay.
BallerStatus.com: With that said, what do you think of your title as the Ambassador of the Bay Area?
E-40: Oh well, that’s given to me. I mean that’s what I am; I’m a West Coast boss. At the same time, I’m a hip-hop legend. A lot of people think I’m new, and they hear the new songs that I get on the radio — when they do get to hear my radio stuff — but they don’t know or never heard my freelances and sh**. When I first came in the game, I guess they was too hard for the radio; the radio wasn’t f***in’ with me when I first came in the game like that. So a lot of my songs got looked over, but the streets feel me. The streets give the confirmation for everybody else to embrace me. As long as I got the streets, at the end of the day, that’s all I need because that’s what I talk about. That’s what I preach about and I’m talking about all subject matters, having hardships and struggles, going through the motions.
I’m a real complete rapper. I’ve covered every part of the game and there ain’t any part that I ain’t covered. I’m the realest rapper in the game. I’m a real family man. I’m solid, my track record is all A’s across the board, and I’ve stood the test of time. I’ve been drinking out the fountain of youth; you just don’t last this long in the game. This is not luck, this is destiny. Most people’s careers are five years, while mine is going on 24, and I’m gassin’ harder than ever now. My microphone play is impeccable. Ain’t no age on game. I stay gamed up. I’ve played my position well.
BallerStatus.com: What about your entrepreneurship in businesses — recent things, future things?
E-40: Movies! That’s where I’m at right now, because you can shoot movies for a much smaller budget than back in the day. I’m trying to get into voiceovers. Right now I’m not investing in any restaurants or anything, because it just didn’t work out for me. With that situation, you gotta be hands on, you gonna be in the restaurant business, you gotta be there in the restaurant. I was wiggling. I rap to death, my rapping was bringing the most income in for me, and I still have my label, Sick Wid It Records, that’s fed me, so you got a lot of talent that we’ve been trying to push. Everybody has a whole understanding the way the condition is in hip-hop, you can’t just throw an album out there, you gotta set yourself up to where your buzz is being created and it gets big enough to the point where “Hey man I’m checking for them boys, I’m checking for that guy.” I’m on the pedal (laughs).
BallerStatus.com: Will you be coming out with more slang books?
E-40: I’m now working on an E-40 slang dictionary app as we speak. I’ve been wanting to do it, so many people have came up to me and wanted me to do that. For years, I’ve been really needing to do this, for at least three years. I’ve been wanting to do a dictionary book for the longest. I get caught up in this spiel, you know, I’m a family man and I think God wants me to do certain things at certain times. I try to show love to my slang, but also it’s much bigger than that.
Me and my family are the first rap family to ever go gold, The Click, Game Related, that was the name of the album, 1995, ’96. It sold well over 700,000 records. We also did something that people weren’t able to do. We actually sold a lot of records without a major label or major distribution. We did that without no radio play, no air play. It was all word of mouth and all work — the streets was lovin’ us, the streets is what spread the word. So, we had to be doing something right. During my days in the early ’90s, late ’80s, we had a lot of competition back then. But we stood the test of time and we’re still here. We’re working on The Click album called Respect & Recognition. I’m in the studio right now with Too $hort, that album is called The History Channel. Also, got one with me and B-Legit, Dollars Dangling. In the meantime, I’m coming out with Revenue Retrievin’ Double Shift and 24-Hour Shift in November. That’s my other one.
BallerStatus.com: Looking back on your early days with The Click as M.V.P. in the late ’80s, up til now in 2011, working with your first son on your four most recent albums (including the ones coming this month), you’ve made many accomplishments over the course of two decades. What’s next?
E-40: Wherever G-O-D want it to be. I wanna get into movies, I got a few other inventions that I don’t want to reveal that I know are gonna make some money. I wanna make sure I got the right people to help me out with it, not financially but overall. A lot of times we have all these ideas, but we don’t have the right sources to let these ideas, let our dreams, come true. Also, my main thing is to continue to have my record label, and with a prayer, a wish, a hope, and a dream, my record label will create enough money to where I won’t have to do this. But, I’ll be doing this no matter what, because at the end of the day, it’s really about making music for myself.
Even if I sold no records, I’d still be making music for myself, because this is what I do. I know what I was put on this Earth to do, and I don’t know when I’ma stop. I’ve been around forever. I just know I got a fanbase and I’ve kept my fanbase; no telling where destiny’s gonna take me, like movies, voiceovers … I’m making sure that Sick Wid It Records and Heavy on the Grind Entertainment, make sure that my son Droop-E gets his ’cause he got what it takes and a lot of people like him. I got another son too, he’s 16, his name is Issue, and he’s also a producer and a rapper. I’m gonna make sure that they go in the right direction; give them all the knowledge that I know. What I like about both of them is that neither one of them sounds like me or nothin’. They got they own thing and that’s what I love about them.
BallerStatus.com: Out of all the albums that you have made thus far, including the ones coming out next month, do you have a favorite and why?
E-40: My favorite album of all time was a double CD that I put out in 1998 called The Element of Surprise. It went gold. It just had so many different styles, so many different flows, so many different styles of music, it was sick. I’m not trying to compare it to All Eyes On Me, but it was my All Eyes On Me, it was the hood All Eyes On Me. [It was] one of the greatest double albums ever. What I remember was, this was when I was on the Black & Milds real tough. I had to go cold turkey on them ’cause I smoked them back to back and I was drinking brandy everyday, like a gallon. Luckily I overcame it. I still drink, but I like to drink wine. All that sh** had ran my blood pressure up, but everything is good now. The Element of Surprise was sick. Putting out double albums ain’t nothin’ new to me, I did it 15 years ago. I also had another double CD,me and my cousin B-Legit put out for our label. It had West Coast rappers and South rappers all on one CD.
BallerStatus.com: Being familiar with the rap game and the music business firsthand, what would you say to aspiring Bay Area and non-Bay Area rappers?
E-40: Go out there and act as if there is no one on this Earth who can help you, but yourself, even though it is a blessing to have someone give you a jumpstart. That’s something that I unfortunately didn’t have, and I’m not complaining about it. It made me a better and stronger man. It made me a better rapper, better businessman. I’m not from Missouri, but I gotta “show ’em better than I can tell ’em.” That’s Missouri, that’s their chant. That’s the “Show Me” state; they can show you better than they can tell you. That’s my attitude. I feel like I can show you better than I can tell you. My advice is don’t try to be anyone else. Don’t try to be something that you’re not. Just go in there, and the main thing is to stay prayed up. I’m not trying to act like I’m sanctified or filled with the Holy Ghost, but I am a God-fearing dude and I do know where my creator is. I know where all the blessings go. All I’m saying is you gotta stay prayed up, you gotta go in there with the attitude of “I’ma put 100% in this’.
You gotta stay creative. I got a saying “I do what they don’t.” There are standard things you can do, be standard, but be different too. It’s a gift and a curse because if you’re too different, you’ll be caught in a situation like me. I put myself in this position. Some people love me, some people don’t. At the same time, at the end of the day, the majority love me. I’m not even worried about it. I’m rare like a steak: they don’t make them like me. This is the truth. You can’t find another me around, I’m 1 of 1 (laughs).
Go out there and network. Network with other rappers, get yourself out there, and show up at all these events. Get on your social networks and everything. Twittering is everything, it is it. Twitter, Facebook, it’s all of them. Do visuals. Videos don’t cost that much no more. Get out there and do visuals. Let your ideas flow, and don’t count on other rappers to help you. “Aw man you wanna help me?” You know, they can help you, but they can only do so much to help you. It’s up to you to take it to another page after that, ’cause I’ve helped plenty of them and it’s up to them. I’ve gave a lot of cats my knowledge, whatever I can do. I’m not in the way of nobody. Sh**, I barely get radio play myself, so it’s not like I got the radio sewed up like “don’t play them” ’cause I don’t do that. They play what they like, they’ll tell me if they don’t like a song I give them and everything.
There ain’t no favoritism. People think that, but it’s not. My songs have they own leg. They start off in the streets and then it’s very much requested after that. I don’t get a song that gets directly on the radio. They send me through the same motions as everybody else. You just gotta stay on the grind and don’t get your hustle game up. Don’t think, “Oh the old rappers or the O.G.’s, they won’t help me now, man.” The O.G.’s can help you as much as they can. They do help, but after that, wassup? How much help do you want? It’s up to you. I can give you a jump, but it’s up to you to keep the car running.
BallerStatus.com: With the hyphy movement having “moved on”, where do you plan to take Bay Area music now? Do you think the hyphy movement has moved on?
E-40: The word “hyphy” and some of the things that was part of it, as far as in the ‘hood, you know … hyphy is really just a way of life. It’s a hyphy ass muthaf***a, someone that’s hyperactive, like just juiced, full of energy. Just loud-talkin like “Oh he hella hyphy!” Or “she hella hyphy!” First of all, music-wise, it’s not a certain sound. Muthaf***as can get hyphy on whatever, you know? It’s just some of the words ain’t there no more. The words is getting repetitive and all of those things that were being said. But what I’m saying is I’m not trying to take it nowhere. I’m just trying to get my fanbase, and the people who listen to me, good music. It’s not a movement, although I don’t denounce my movement at all. What we were saying was real sh**. It was really happening, like it wasn’t phony, it wasn’t like it was fake sh**. They would really ghostride the whip and all that sh**. Turn donuts, they’d do that. Dreads, the whole sh**, you know? It was real sh**. It ain’t like I was lyin’ (laughs). I’m just giving them music. I got all sorts of sh** like that on my album that’ll make a muthaf***a just gig and wild out. I also got my flow mob music, which I helped coin and create along with Too $hort and The Click. I got songs that’ll make you feel like you’re in 1992, 1989, ’90, on these albums.