Artist: E-40Title: My Ghetto Report CardRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine
Every once in a while, a veteran makes an album that serves as a reintroduction. Scarface achieved this with The Fix and Snoop had R&G. A thirteen-year Vallejo veteran, E-40’s My Ghetto Report Card (Reprise/BME) is an iconic rapper’s buck-wild Spring Break of his senior year. With a new label, Lil’ Jon producing the bulk, and a rising Hyphy movement, this album is a party-to-ghostride.
Though it’s light-hearted, E-40 deserves to be taken seriously. “Gouda” with brother, B-Legit, witnesses 40 Water criticizing both the game and society. From snitching, and from gentrification for Ikeas, there’s a lot more than slang being kicked around. “They Might Be Taping” is another moment of awareness. Here, 40 chronicles his many trademarks, as well as alludes to Hip-Hop police and federal surveillance. However for mere party cuts, “Tell Me When To Go” and “White Girl” stand out. The former, the booming hit single, the latter, a cocaine-metaphoric rendition of Boogie Boys’ “Fly Girl,” with Juelz Santana and UGK. For any other artist, this may be treated as campy. However, 40 is not only convincing in his experiences, he’s more whimsical about it than many of his peers. The rapper doesn’t want your fear, just your respect and your laughter.
Maybe Crunk fathered Hyphy, but Lil’ Jon created a new sound for E-40. While it has the crashing bass and the loud ad-libs, E-40 does a lot more lyrically with Jon’s music than most. However, it’s Bay Area alum Rick Rock that stuffs the heat into this album. “Yay Area,” which is built upon Digable Planets’ “Rebirth of Slick,” increases the energy tenfold. “Gouda” uses quirky sound effects to build very quickly, very loudly, and very club-friendly. Musically, the energy tapers off towards the albums close with the lackluster, “Gimme Head” and “U and Dat” with T. Pain are as interesting musically, as they are conceptually. Though this is a departure from EA-Ski and Ant Banks’ influence, the music has its own regional identity.
While it’s not a 4.0, it is 2006’s United States of Atlanta: inventive, creative, and a balance of humor and intelligence. Along with a gang of guests (Too Short, Federation, UGK, et al.) E-40 tucks street-lore into his verses that have a more radio-friendly, more energetic music. The slang is as sharp as it ever was, and in a punchline era, E-40 is easily a consistent quotable. The Bay is back, My Ghetto Report Card trumpets its arrival and makes the honor roll.