With 3 New Albums On Billboard's Top 200, E-40 Continues Work Ethic Developed Decades Ago, As Reminded in Rare 1992 Interview

Posted by Billyjam, December 8, 2016 03:17pm | Post a Comment

"I was born with a rusty spoon. Now I'm a tycoon," raps E-40 on his new album track "Savage (feat. Jazze Pha & B-Legit)" accurately summing up the longtime Vallejo rapper's unique, consistently illustrious and prolific hip-hop career. Spanning three decades as solo artist, member of The Click, and frequent collaborator with countless other artists, E-40's remarkable career culminated this past week with his three new simultaneously released albums all charting on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The D-Boy Diary Book 1, The D-Boy Diary Book 2, plus The D-Boy Diary Books 1 & 2 Deluxe Edition not only made the Billboard's Top 200 chart, but also charted on the Top 20 of Billboard's Indie and R&B/Hip-Hop Charts, plus the Billboard Rap Top Ten Chart. While most rappers fade away after a couple of albums or within a handful of years, three decades on the Bay Area rap icon seems to be more popular and well known than ever. Very few others have accomplished this. One who has come close is fellow Bay Area rap veteran Too $hort, coincidentally an artist with whom E-40's collaborated with many times including on two albums.

Remarkable for any artist of any genre, E-40s longevity is the result of two key factors. Firstly he's an incredibly talented artist: a gifted wordsmith with his own unique style and vocabulary that is always evolving: plus a knack for finding up-and-coming talent to join him in the mix. Secondly his success is no fluke but the result of a strict work ethic that he crafted decades ago, and has stuck rigidly to since: one that is summed up by the name of his record label Heavy On The Grind. I first learned of E-40's work ethic back in 1992. That was when he and his group The Click released their debut full-length album Down and Dirty, and when he would release his own solo album debut Federal. Both were released around the same time by the indie label that E-40 founded, Sick Wid It Records. At that time I interviewed E-40 along with The Click's B-Legit, D-Shot, and Suga T on defunct San Francisco radio station KUSF FM. In that rare interview (hear below) E-40 offered insight to what would become his long career's trademark work ethic. "I was in there [the studio] doing some work. I was putting in work. It was a headache but it's all good now," he said when quizzed on the then unheard of practice of working on two albums simultaneously. Little did I know (or likely him too) that by hustling hard on those dual album recordings/releases that he had crafted the blueprint for this latest / third decade of his long rap career.

Years before The Click formed, back in 1987, they family group formed their first act. They called themselves MVP and the following year would release their only record. As they explain in the 1992 interview below, the name was too generic and they needed something better. That would be The Click Membership wise the lineup of the earlier MVP was the same, well technically three of the four. Suga T, while officially not a member of MVP, she was a guest on the group's four song EP release.  So she may have well been a member of the late 80's rap crew from California. It was a time when Northern Cali rap had not found its sound. Similarly M.V.P.'s sound had not yet fully developed. But by the time M.V.P. morphed into The Click in the early 90's the Vallejo group had truly found their most unique sound, one defined by each member's style especially E-40's unorthodox flow. In fact so unusual was his flow that I remember back then how many hip-hop  dissed him and dismissed him, saying he was weird and "rapped funny" or worse could not rap at all.  Regardless enough people got into his unique flow and delivery: a whole style that in time would become highly influential and copied. As time went on The Click became less of an entity than the individual member's solo careers. While all four members of The Click were/are talented,  it was E-40 who always stood out the most: in terms of both creativity and business acumen.  This he demonstrated through the 90's, the 2000's, and into the current decade which has proven to be his most prolific.

Following years of releasing solo (single) albums, and doing endless collaborations with other artists from the Bay and beyond, six years ago E-40 diligently began recording and releasing two or more albums at the same time, and having many others collaborate on his albums. That was in early 2010 when, with his new Heavy On The Grind record label in place, he released the first two volumes of his Revenue Retrievin' series: Revenue Retrievin': Night Shift and Revenue Retrievin': Day Shift.  Exactly one year later, in March 2011, the hard working rapper would follow up with his next two guest-heavy albums: Revenue Retrievin': Overtime Shift, and Revenue Retrievin': Graveyard Shift. Fast forward twelve months to March 2012, and he would unleash his Block Brochure series: The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 1, The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 2, and The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 3, as well as the The Block Brochure: Welcome CD. Then just eight months later, in November 2012, he unleashed his long awaited Too $hort, collaboration series: History: Mob Music, and History: Function Music. If you're doing the math, that's six album releases in one year alone. Never one to rest on his laurels he would follow up a year later, in December 2013, with three more new albums simultaneously released. Continuing the series he begun 21 months earlier, these were The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 4, The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 5, and The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 6. Then in December 2014, exactly a year after these three albums, he dropped two albums in yet another new series: Sharp On All 4 Corners: Corner 1, and Sharp On All 4 Corners: Corner 2.

Like all the other album series by the artist/businessman, were shrewdly released via his own Heavy On The Grind, so too are his new D-Boy series albums which arrived into Amoeba in the second half of last month. Scroll down for complete track listing of both The D-Boy Diary Book 1, and The D-Boy Diary Book 2, and you will notice the impressive array of track collaborators. These guest artists (many from the Bay - 40 always shows love to where he is from) include such talents as G-Eazy, Stresmatic, Gucci Mane, Lil B, Nef The Pharaoh, Droop-E, Jay Rock, Kid Ink, B-Legit, Mistah F.A.B., Casey Veggies Husalah, Turf Talk, Ricco Barrino, and Joe Mo. Of the new album the artist summed it up as, "a guidebook for a street life" that would  "lace the unlaced" and "tutor the truant." As noted already it has charted on various Billboard charts and continues to sell well, as does his deep back-catalog. Truly E-40 is an anomaly. But what makes all of Earl "E-40" Stevens' music business accomplishments all the more impressive is that rap/hip-hop is only part of his business empire: one that includes his successful wine brand that carries his legal name.  He has said in interviews that he has no plan of when he might quit rap. My guess is that in ten years time there will be at least another 20 new E-40 albums released!

1992  E-40 & The Click interview on KUSF by Amoeblog's Billy Jam

2016: E-40 "Savage (feat. Jazze Pha & B­-Legit)" from The D-Boy Diary Book 1

The D-Boy Diary Book 1 + Book 2 Tracklisting

Book 1
Stack it to the Ceiling
Straight To The Point (ft. Ezale and G-Eazy)
Savage (ft. Jazze Pha and B­-Legit)
Puttin’ in Work
Mr. Arm and Hammer (ft. Stresmatic)
Hunedz (ft. Rick Rock)
Fired Up (ft. Cousin Fik)
Bag On Me (ft. K.D. Stunts)
Say So (ft. iStevie)
Stay Away (ft. Eric Bellinger)
Somebody (ft. Ricco Barrino)
All Day (ft. Gucci Mane)
The Grit Don’t Quit (ft. Nef The Pharaoh)
Fake Lit (ft. June Onna Beat)
Goon Music (ft. Stresmatic)
Gangsta Song (ft. Kent Jones)
Blessed By The Game
We Flip (ft. Cousin Fik, Choose Up Cheese and Stresmatic)
I Had It In a Drought (ft. Stresmatic)
Check (ft. Willy Will)
Made It Out (ft. Young Chu)

Book 2
Bring Back The Sideshow (ft. Mistah F.A.B. and Nef The Pharaoh)
Money (ft. Mozzy and Jay Rock)
This Goin’ Up (ft. Husalah and Turf Talk)
On One (ft. AD)
Get Money or Get Lost
Highway (ft. B-Legit and TreSolid)
Sick Out Here (ft. Droop-E)
Thank U (ft. Willy Will)
Military Time (ft. Salsalino and Baby Treeze)
Uh Huh (ft. YV)
2 Seater (ft. Kid Ink)
What It’s Gone Be (ft. D-Day and Tamoya Bell)
How Do U Like That
I Know a Guy
All I Know (ft. K Camp and Casey Veggies)
Waitin’ On a Play (ft. Nicamari)
Broke Bitches (ft. Joe Moses and Jay 305)
Flash On These Bitches (ft. Lil B)
Too Many
Paid Off (ft. Stresmatic)

2016 (audio only) E-40 "Too Many" from The D-Boy Diary Book 2

Relevant Tags

E-40 The Click (1), Hip-hop (215), E-40 1992 Interview (1), E-40 Heavy On The Grind (1), E-40 Sick Wid It Records (1)