For over 20 years, Vallejo, California-born E-40 has stayed on the map, fulfilling his role as the self-proclaimed “Ambassador of the Bay.” Whether it was with his family, The Click, or by himself, he’s always played his part seriously, consistently putting out two plus decades of music he describes that “slaps.”
An innovator of slang, he never shies from creating his own language, because sometimes, plain ol’ English just isn’t good enough to convey what he’s feeling. And in that kind of creative manner, he’s maintained his success on both the independent and mainstream levels, garnering a faithful fan base that’s pushed the borders of the Bay Area further and further with every hit record.
As he prepares for the simultaneous release of his 13th and 14th albums Revenue Retrievin: Overtime Shift and Revenue Retrievin': Graveyard Shift, he let TSS in for a Smoking Session to drop his two cents on the impact of his mainstream success, his in-studio personalities, favorite sports teams, and everything in between.
Graphics by Anthoniaa
TSS: How does it feel to be E-40 right now?
E-40: [Laughs] It feels good man, I’m blessed bro.
TSS: What is the significance behind the Revenue Retrievin’ series?
E-40: You know first of all Revenue Retrievin’ is just another name for “paper chasin’” or “gouda collectin’” or just going to get it, you know? It all started out with one album, it was gonna be Revenue Retrievin’: Daytime Shift, but I had so many damn songs I figured I might as well do a Nighttime Shift too and drop two albums. I always wanted to do it. With the series continued with Overtime Shift and Graveyard Shift, it’s just an extension, starting off right where I left off at last year. These two albums that I ‘finna drop on March 29th are probably rawer than the last two. It’s just that I was starting up a series you know, it could keep going, and kind of be a collective item.
TSS: Speaking of “paper chasing,” how important is it to invest your money into other places outside of your music?
E-40: It’s a dice roll with anything you invest your money in, really to be honest with you, you know what I mean? You can win and you can lose you know, or you can just break even. It’s definitely important to not put all your eggs in one basket and try to provide yourself with a security blanket and a safety net, for the future. So you gotta roll the dice and you gotta try. The biggest chance you can take in life is by not taking any chances at all. It’s important, but music is my heart and this is what makes me the most revenue, so be grit, don’t quit. [Laughs]
TSS: Yeah, and it shows, you’ve been out here doing your thing since 1990.
E-40: Since ’88, when The Click dropped as MVP.
TSS: Yeah man, even longer. Everybody out on here and especially in the Bay Area has kind of grown up with you and your music, but it was primarily a West Coast thing. But then after like 15 years you go major, you hook up with Lil’ Jon and BME, and then you drop “Tell Me When To Go.” And then everything goes global. Talk about the significance of that record and what it means to you today.
E-40: Man I seen a whole new light. It was like my second kid. You know what’s cool, is that I was cool with Lil’ Jon for a minute, and at the time he was the hottest thing in the industry. So I hooked up with him, and we just went in there and made good music. I told him about the movement out here in The Bay, and man, we was just out to make bumpin’ music and it ended up being some real slaps. Besides “Tell Me When To Go,” a lotta people don’t know that “U and Dat” with T-Pain and Kandi from The Real Housewives of Atlanta made my biggest record of all-time as far as radio play. And single wise, it went Gold and shit I could go on and on forever about it. But like you said, it was a big shining moment for us in ’06 man.
TSS: Word, “Tell Me When To Go” is just one of those records that’s gonna be poppin’ for a really, really long time.
E-40: It’s a Hip-Hop classic man.
TSS: Definitely. And after that you dropped The Ball Street Journal, and now you’re back to being independent. Can you explain your thought process as far as scaling down and going indie again?
E-40: Timing. It was time for it. I was done with my deal with Warner Brothers. The climate, for one. And the opportunity, for two. In this type of climate, I have the best opportunity being independent, so it’s the perfect time, nah’mean?
TSS: Why do you feel that way?
E-40: Because I’ve already got an established fanbase. I’m not telling everybody to go independent, I’m talking about me. I already got Gold and Platinum albums under my belt with me and my family as well. I’ve already done the major label thing for years. I started off independent, and now I went back independent. And if there’s anybody who should be able to pull it off, it’s me. I’ve already shown it, you know what I mean? So now, you know, on my deal with EMI, I’m actually signed to my son’s label, Heavy On The Grind Entertainment, with a distribution deal through EMI. There’s no middleman, nobody we gotta answer to. We are our own boss.
TSS: Now since you mentioned your son Droop-E, he’s been getting a lot more involved with your music too. I know he’s produced a few songs on your last couple albums and I think he spits here and there too right?
E-40: Man, he’s been rapping since he was three. On The Federal, he was three, then he was six when he was on In A Major Way. That went Platinum, and he rapped on there too.
TSS: Oh ok, how much work has he put into the new projects, and what’s his role now?
E-40: There’s at least fourteen songs that he produced. And he’s rapping on one song from each album. And he’s working on his own shit to gear up for his album. That kid’s a very talented young man. He got his head on his shoulders, and he’s surrounded by good people. And he ain’t only my son, he’s my partner as well.
TSS: No doubt. I was out in L.A. a couple weeks ago, and I previewed Snoop’s new album, Doggumentary, and I know you have a verse on there. Can you talk about that record and how did that collaboration came about?
E-40: Oh yeah yeah, the song is called “My F#ckin’ House,” with me, Snoop and Jeezy. You know I fuck with Snoop, game recognize game. He just called me and was like “Eh 40, I got one for us.” And Rick Rock produced it, I work real close with Rick Rock, and Snoop works with him too. And I would have did in L.A., but I was like I gotta hurry up because I got a flight to catch the next day, and they needed it in a timely matter. So they sent it to me and I did it, and then Snoop was like “Yo, let’s do the video for it,” so we went up there and did the video for that. So be on the lookout for that video with me, Jeezy, and Snoop. “My F#ckin’ House.”
TSS: Definitely. Now on a slightly different note, how important do you think social networking is to promote your music in this day and age?
E-40: Man, adapting is more important than ever. Let me put it this way. You gotta turn with the times, or the times gonna turn on you. It’s very important to interact with the people. Shit, back in the days, the only way to interact with our fanbase was to sit and write letters back to them. I still get fan mail to this day, mostly through prison. Now prisons got core links and stuff like that, you know what I mean, and certain websites too. And Facebook is now 50% of the Internet. Twitter is like 7-8% too. All of that is very important.
Don’t get it twisted: I fuck with Facebook and Twitter. Tumblr, I’m getting into that. They got this new thing that’s coming out called YoHolla. They’re pushing that hard now. I understand man, I’m not one of them OG rappers that’s been around a long time that refuses to run with the time, because it’s not gonna hurt you, man. And the best thing about the Internet is that it’s limited to however you want to do it. You don’t gotta talk to everybody, just use it as a outlet.
TSS: Yeah man, I’ve heard some of the dopest rappers out there, that just can’t market themselves properly in this cyber age, and it’s a shame, because they really have that potential.
E-40: Some people are the best lyricists, got the most gas, but they don’t know have the personality or the people skills to go out there and network and get they recognition and they name out there. Sometimes people can get in the way of they own selves man, real talk.
You know I’m a crazy ass personality. I’m just crazy. Mu’fuckers fuck with me because of my music and they can tell I’m retarded through my music. And when I say I’m retarded you just know it in the head. I’m a couple of tacos short of a combination. I definitely am, though. [Laughs]