E-40 has been in hip-hop since 1988 when he dropped his first album, MVP, with D-Shot, B-Legit and Suga-T. Since then, he’s dropped over 20 albums with multiple albums going gold and platinum. He’s made the money, pocketed the fame and soaked in the respect. What possibly more could you ask for as an MC in an era where hip-hop itself just turned 40? But hip-hop has this idea of retirement, that for some artists the love of rapping isn’t enough of a reason for them to keep putting out albums. The Bay Area OG has different ideas. As he would say, he’s “gamed up;” he’s privy to what’s happening. Which is why young rappers—IAMSU!, French Montana, Danny Brown—are still rapping with him today.
He’s also been expanding his brand into other business ventures. Back in October, he unveiled his new wine, called the Earl Stevens Collection. ”I always liked the wine,” E-40 says when discussing how he learned the wine trade. “We got all the great ideas but we just needed the resources. God made it where the resources came through to show me where to go.” Earl Stevens Collection boasts an assortment of white and red wine in three flavors: Mangoscato, Function Red Blend and Moscato. “I just wanted to venture into this because I’m known for drinking Carlo Rossi,” he says. “This is in it’s own category. Ain’t too many rappers with their own wine. I know people with hard liquor, so I just wanted to do my own thing.”
He’s been doing his own thing for more than two decades now, which allowed him to put out three albums, The Block Brochure Welcome To The Soil Parts 4, 5 and 6, on Tuesday (Dec. 10). E-40 swung through XXL offices to discuss his new albums, the question of retirement, and the current state of hip-hop. —Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)
XXL: How was the process of making this 45 song, three album project? What made you take this on?
E-40: I’m not going to lie, this one was tough to do. To come back with 4, 5 and 6, three albums, it comes to a point where I can do one album standing on my head, easy. I’d probably have it done within three weeks or a month the way I work. The Block Brochure 4, 5 and 6, it was a trip because I did over a hundred songs and I shaved it all the way down to 42 songs [Ed. Note: three of the tracks are skits]. But I shaved it down because I wanted every song to poke out like nipples. And that’s what it’s doing. Just throw it in and just ride, just have a good time.
How long did it take to create?
You know, guest appearances help a lot. When you do a song with other artists—’cause everybody wants to hear another artist with their favorite artist—one thing you got make sure is when you take that first verse and that second verse, you got to be a part of the whole song. Whether you on the hook on there talking or repeating the ad-libs, that’s one thing I learned to do over the years. Now just imagine, from March 2010 I dropped Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift and Night Shift. Here it is, December 2013. Within that amount of time—just to show you my work progress—within that amount of time I dropped 10 solos and two duos, with me and Too $hort. So that’s 12 albums [from] March 2010 to now when The Block Brochure 4, 5, and 6 comes out. That’s three and a half years.
Did you ever get tired?
You know what’s the trip about it? At the end, I was trying to reach deadline, [and] then I said fuck that, we coming out December 10. Then I finally got stressed out after things was done. Ain’t that a trip? Neck got tight and shit. I’m like, it’s done, it’s turned in, I got my release date. I got my album done and all the covers. Everything is in promotions. But I guess it just caught up with me. But I’m back.
The features are pretty dope—T.I., Chris Brown, your son Droop-E. How do you reach out for all these collaborations?
I try to do collaborations that a lot of people don’t do. When it’s already predictable it’s not so much of a special song. I got a song with me, Big K.R.I.T. and Z-Ro ["In Dat Cup"]; me, T.I., and Chris Brown ["Episode"]. I never did a song with T.I., I always had love for him. We both had mutual respect for each other but never did one. Never did a song with Chris Brown singing. We did a rap song remix with him with “Function” [and] he killed it, that’s a great song too. My son Droop-E and Work Dirty, first of all they [on] Sick Wid’ It Records—my label—and they also family and always in the studio with me. Decades produced the beat, he family too. That was just one of those moments where it’s, “Lets come with it.” My boy Stressmatic came with the hook, “Yellow Gold.” Soon as he did the hook we was on the case. But that’s what it’s about, doing songs with people like me, Danny Brown and ScHoolboy Q ["All My Niggas"]. Three unique different styles, unorthodox, different voices, doing what everybody else don’t.