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.

What's it like doing a track with your son? Do you see yourself in him?
It’s funny because it’s really kind of routine because I’m used to it. My son Droop-E was on a platinum album. He recorded it when he was five years old. But he ended up saying, “I spit game I told you this / I spit game like a solider / tell them fools I told you this / The rap kingpin giant, six-year-old vocalist.” That song was called “It's All Bad.” He spit eight measures on that, this boy six years old. He did it when he was five. This ain’t no “lost in the sauce” song. This is on a platinum album, In A Major Way, which the people said is my best album ever.

Droop-E is a talented dude. Not only can he rap, he can do beats. The sound that we hearing right now in the West Coast, he played a part of it as well—that ratchet, hyphy, heavy baseline, all that stuff. It's always good to work with your son. And for him to even rock with me, I’m older. I love when the youngsters rock with me. I can relate to them. It’s not me trying too hard for me to be fitting in. A lot of people might think that. But when I was a youngster I always chopped it up with OGs. I promised myself, I’m not going to be no goofy, wearing-my-pants-way-up-here type of dude. That’s not me. I’m awake.

Do you ever see yourself retiring?
The cold part about it is, I love money, but I just love rap. I feel like the game needs me. I feel like The Bay needs me. I feel like California needs me. I still cover every corner of the game. I’m sharp on all four corners. You've got to have a balance like, "Okay, yeah, I turn up in the clubs, but over here it’s a message in my music." To uplift, to be a voice of the people, [give] hope to the people and tell them, "Hey, you can do it." I was this dude too. I got them heartfelt songs that would make a killer cry. Then I can do punch lines and metaphors. I can rap with the best of them. I can sound just like any rapper if I wanted to. But I choose to be me and have a unique style with my patterns and say what everybody don’t. Somebody might say this word; I want to say this word. [There's] nothing wrong with it, it's just me being different. Those who don’t like me, they don’t have to like me. Hopefully one day they'll adjust.

Do you feel like you have to be in the game until you see someone who can hold your spot down?
I’m not even tripping about no torch or nothing. I just want to play my position as an OG. To be an ambassador and a great OG and a mentor it’s other things that go with being just a dude with a great song at a time. You got to have experience to deal with everything.

With all the shit I’ve been through, so many different eras of music. I went through the baseball bats and 40 oz era. And through the mob music and G-Funk era. And the South era where I rapped with a lot of the Southern rappers. I’m not a local rapper, I’m global. Going through the hyphy movement, now they calling it ratchet. I’m everything. I’m a well packaged rapper. It’s also the way you carry yourself, too. You can’t be goofy. You can't be making diss songs just to be dissing them, creating controversy and all that. I never did no controversy thing to stay on. I’m not going to do this all my life. Is there an expiration date on how old you got be before you retire? [Laughs] I don’t know.

I’m 46. I tell them age ain't nothing but mind over matter; you don’t mind, it don’t matter. I rap circles around these fools and spit some real knowledge and some game behind it. It ain't just got to be punch lines and metaphors; I really paint pictures with my rhymes where you can visualize it. I know too much. Can’t any rapper teach me anything. All they can teach me is about the latest fashion, probably. I was the first rapper talking about choppers, triple beam scales, drought season. I got the foundation down for the streets.

Where do you think rap is right now?
Ain’t nobody telling stories no more. A lot of people are scared to do pain raps, it's always punchlines. That’s cool, I do punchlines and I talk about the struggle. I talk about everything. I’m not dissing the young rappers. I’m just saying when I came in the game, I was up against some serious competition. I survived it all, some of the greatest rappers ever. I could have got lost in the sauce but I kept my head above quicksand. Lasted through the late '80s, the '90s, the 2000s, and here I am.