Growing up in the Bay Area it was normal to hear the latest E-40 album knockin’ in the trunk of anyone’s car. You couldn’t deny how overwhelmingly powerful the bass was, or how some of his lyrics supplied a thizz face from the gravity of their meaning. But it’s foolish to be talking in the past tense since E-40, who’s arguably the most influential Hip Hop figure in the Bay Area next to Too $hort and Mac Dre, is still relevant in the game and a force to be reckoned with.
Story | Nico Blitz
Feature Image | twitter.com/e40
Born Earl Stevens on November 15, 1967, E-40 is an Hip Hop entrepreneur from the Bay Area like no other. Since his initial rap debut on Let’s Slide (1986) as a member of The Click, E-40 has released a total of 22 studio albums, 2 collaborative albums, 3 extended plays, has been in 7 films, and over 100 guest appearances with performing artists.
But what makes the millennial Hip Hip icons want to work with E-40? The lone word for this is longevity.
Released March 14, 2006, My Ghetto Report Card was seen as the revival of Bay Area music. Although there were Hyphy Movement releases that occurred prior to its release – including “Super Hyphy” by Keak Da Sneak, “Super Sick Wid It” by Mistah F.A.B., and “It’s A Slumper” by Turf Talk to name a few – the movement became relevant in the overall Hip Hop community because of E-40’s connections and credibility in the game.
“Tell Me When to Go” still reigns as the anthem for the Hyphy Movement in the Hip Hop community. With a song powerful enough to expose a movement that had virtually been going on since the mid-90s, E-40 reinforced his position as the Ambassador of Bay Area music.
In other words, artists like iAmSu!, Problem, Big Sean, Ty Dolla $ign, and ScHoolboy Q understand that a verse from the Ambassador reinforces their legitimacy in the game. An interview on Sway in the Morning reiterated what 40 already knew:
“There’s a reason why he’s doing Jimmy Kimmel Live. There’s a reason why ScHoolboy Q and Big Sean and all of these artists; they tap into him for that validation.” – Sway (1:57 in video)
However, rest assured the mutual respect goes both ways. There are countless E-40 singles that go unheard of due to the overwhelming popularity of today’s trap sound – a strong bass, multi-patterned hi hat instrumental with a catchy hook.
Furthermore, there’s a recreation of ideas, and usage of E-40 vernacular from his hits that doesn’t get the full homage it deserves.
For example, Ty Dolla $ign’s single “Saved” and even J. Cole’s “No Role Modelz” both utilize the term “save a hoe”, meaning to financially save a gold digger. The phrase was recently popularized by these two hits, but actually started back in 1996 in The Click’s album Tha Hall of Game.
E-40 is responsible for many things that go unnoticed by the majority of the world. As a Hip Hop legend, he’ll go down as one of the most influential individuals for many careers in the game. His approval has enough to make the old school Hip Hop heads respect particulars of the new generation.
Whether or not you agree with the audacity of his work, as E-40 said in his song “My Shit Bang”:
“You ain’t gotta like me but you gotta respect me”
In addition to his musical success, 40 Water is the owner of independent label Sick Wid It who carries notable Bay Area rappers from his posse The Click (B-Legit, D-Shot, Suga-T, and himself), Turf Talk, Nef The Pharaoh, and more. He’s also found himself thriving in the liquor business with his own wine collection, malt liquor, and mixed cocktail Slurricane.
E-40’s upcoming double album The D-Boy Diary Books 1 & 2 are set to release on November 18th with features from new Bay Area artists G-Eazy and Nef The Pharoah to name a few, and O.G.’s like Droop-E, Mistah F.A.B., B-Legit and more.