It's hard not to think of E-40 when you hear about the Bay Area. Since beginning his storied rap career some 34 years ago, the West Coast legend has continually made his presence felt, whether it was through his role in defining hip-hop on the Left Coast to the incalculable amount of slang terms he brought to the rap game. As hip-hop's resident in-the-know uncle, he's still going strong in 2017 and beyond.

E-40 founded his legendary imprint, Sick Wid It Records, all the way back in 1989, and the label remains a force to this day. More than simply one of hip-hop's style icons, the Bay Area-based legend's also left his mark with a dynamic pen game. Using his trademark off-kilter flow and some nimble rhyming, E-40's been bodying verses before he even dropped his debut solo album, Federal, back in 1993.

Although XXL and E-40 have maintained a close relationship for years now, the rapper's never landed on one of our covers. That ends now, as the rapper graces the front cover of our 20th anniversary issue. His respect for XXL is longstanding.

"I think XXL has a lot to do with [the responsibility to hip-hop]. One of the things I like about them [is] they showcase new talent," he says in the interview for his Fall 2017 cover story, written by XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten. "Every year they showcase new talent with the Freshmen, the freestyles and just being involved in hip-hop overall. Just watching all the new growth, all the new youngsters and at the same time paying homage to the older generation as well. Even if I wasn’t involved in this particular thing, I would have to say that ’cause I’m too real, I have to be honest."

E-40 is just one of the hip-hop acts selected to appear on XXL's 20 special edition covers. Like the Bay Area legend, these rappers have been documented by XXL through the extent of their careers and have always shown love to the brand that helped raise their profiles along the way. E-40's fellow cover stars are 50 Cent, the cover king with 15 total XXL covers and a career we’ve been documenting from the start; Diddy, the man who not only reinvented the remix but paved the way for rap moguls; Nicki Minaj, a queen in hip-hop building her own pinkprint in the game; Wiz Khalifa, the cool, calm and collected superstar; Cam’ron, Harlem’s swag connoisseur; Lil Uzi Vert; the face of hip-hop’s new generation; Migos, three rappers who helped redefine the culture; Snoop Dogg, the Doggfather of the game; Pusha T, a success story as a group member, solo artist and record executive; Future, a trendsetting trap god; T.I., rap’s gangsta and gentleman; Fabolous, a highly respected New York MC; Rae Sremmurd, the real crowd-pleasers; Birdman, a No. 1 stunna with a revered empire; Run The Jewels, partners in rhyme and reason; Gucci Mane, the true comeback kid; Tech N9ne; an independent icon; Yo Gotti, a testament to tenacity; and The Lox, a trinity representing for the streets.

Check out E-40's full Fall 2017 cover story here, watch his interview video below and keep it locked to our exclusive 20th anniversary hub for more content coming in honor of XXL's 20th anniversary.

Travis Shinn for XXL

See All XXL Magazine 20th Anniversary Covers