Being in the rap game for more than two decades would leave some satisfied. Not E-40, though. The Ambassador of the Bay consistently builds upon his legacy, most recently with the releases of Revenue Retrievin’: Overtime Shift and Revenue Retrievin’: Graveyard Shift. Both 20-track discs dropped yesterday (March 29) and reiterate that 40 is still a force to be reckoned with in hip-hop. Forty Fonzarelli speaks with XXLMag.com about his new album, working on a joint album with Too $hort and Lil B. —Adam Fleischer
XXLMag.com: This is your second double album in as many years. What’s the thinking behind doing that twice in a row?
E-40: It’s a series. I’ve done double albums in the past, but never separate. I’ve got an album called Element of Surprise that was a double CD that went gold, but that was sold together. This way, I made it affordable. You can go get one right now, or you can go get both of them. If you don’t have enough money to get one at the moment, get the other one later on.
XXL: Tell me a little bit about the theme behind the title of the albums?
E-40: The theme behind the title of the album is Revenue Retrievin’. Revenue Retrievin’ is—I’ve always had the most slickest slang, you know what I mean? I always got to throw a curveball in the game, whatever I say, whatever I do. It’s kind of like paper chasin’, but instead of paper chasin’, revenue retrievin’. The Graveyard Shift—it’s like [a] graveyard shift starts from what, 12 am to 8 am? So on the Graveyard Shift album, you got song titles and concepts that usually go on from that time. On the Overtime Shift album, you got songs, concepts, titles that go on overtime shift. It can be all day everyday.
XXL: We had spoken to you a while back about a collaborative album with Too $hort. Is that something that’s still in the works?
E-40: Yeah, that’s still in the works. Me and $hort, we’re a few songs in right now. It’s called The History Channel. This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. You know, we was on major labels. Now we can do what we want to do. We’re our own bosses. So, now it’s the perfect time for it.
XXL: Yeah, you mentioned the major labels. I know that through your career, Jive and Warner have done some distributing, but you’ve had your own label as well.
E-40: Yeah. Sick Wid It Records. I’ve always had my own label, my own artists, the whole Sick Wid It camp. But at the same time, I was also on a major label, Jive. But I had one of the most unique deals in the game. We started off selling tapes out the trunk of the car. I pioneered and coined it independent hustle. I coined that before the Master Ps of the world, before the Cash Moneys. Them my folks, but they’ll tell ya that I gave them the blueprint. I sold tapes out the trunk of my car from’88 all the way to 2004. And we did it to the point where we created such a street demand, that we sold a lot of tapes and CDs and vinyl and all that good stuff back then, that every label in the game that wanted to do rap music was at me and Sick Wid It Records. The person that had the best mouthpiece gave me the deal of a century. It was Barry Weiss of Jive Records. It was a lucrative deal and I did my thang. I continued to just keep my foot on the pedal, and don’t stop. And here I am all these years later. It’s been almost 24 years that I’ve been in this rap game, as far as putting music on the shelves, not just rapping for 24 years. I’ve been rapping since you know 1979 when I first heard the Sugarhill Gang. You know what I’m saying? When I was a 11 or 12 years old.
XXL: There’s a lot of new talent coming out of the West Coast. I wanted to ask you about Lil B specifically ‘cause he’s from the Bay.
E-40: Man, I done heard people call Lil B wack. I heard people call Lil B the greatest thang ever, so you know to each his own. And that boy doing his thang. Anytime you flow different, you know, rap different, say the different things, people don’t understand that that’s what makes the world go round. That’s why he poke out like nipples. That man is a one man army. He’s doing his own thing. I’m proud of him. Other cats out in the Bay area, DB tha General, Roach Gigz. I would say J. Stalin. Lil’ Moe Green doing his thang. There’s a whole bunch of artists. And the west coast overall. Lil’ Kendrick Lamar. Freddie Gibbs. All them. Everybody just gotta support each other. Don’t hate.