ajor labels are looking at the Bay Area the same way that baseball scouts are eyeing up the Dominican Republic. Just as he did 14 years ago, Earl E-40 Stevens spearheaded a movement that attracted major attention out West. The one-time Gold Rush is replaced with a Hyphy train.
On the heels of his smash album, My Ghetto Report Card, E-40 tells his story on the darkest years of the Northwest. AllHipHop.com listens as 40 discusses collaborating with his son, early influences, and even the history behind the similarities between his Thingsll Never Change and 2Pacs Changes. E-40 allegedly earned his name for draining beers, but here, he fills up your mind.
AllHipHop.com: Is there a difference within Vallejo of Crestside and Westside within the rap community?
E-40: No, I dont think so. You know, we all from Vallejo. Everybodys parents went to school with each other. We all laced and grown from floor terrace, and thats really where the roots is at. In Vallejo, you got Con-Funk-Shun from way back in the day, Sly Stone and them used to be out here we all cut from the same cloth. We all laced the same. Its a small town. If you blink, you might miss it. Its game involved with all Vallejo rappers.
AllHipHop.com: When you were comin up, who moved you? Theres people Ive heard of, such as The Mack from Vallejo, but who was it that put the battery in your back?
E-40: Too Short, Freddy B up out of Oakland. Some cats out of Richmond by the name of Calvin T and Magic Mike, which I feel was some of the coldest rappers ever. Ice-T, KRS-One, Blowfly, UTFO, you smell me? [laughs] You put all of that together, thats who E-40 was wastin groom up off of, you smell me? You mix that with my character and my street experiences and you got you an E-40, man.
AllHipHop.com: Aside from just the music, what did it mean as a father, to work with your son, Droop-E, on this project?
E-40: It made me feel good just to have a son thats involved himself in this music. I didnt force him to do this. I didnt force him to get into the rap game. It just gradually happened. Its embroidered into him. Its in bloodstream. I had him on my album Federal in 1992, he was three years old. He had skit on there called Questions. Then I put him on my platinum album, In A Major Way. The song was called Its All Bad. He was rappin on there, as a six year old dude. At the time, his name was Lil E. He just recently changed it to Droop-E just three, four years ago. So when he got nine years old, I had him on my album, Hall of Game on the song, Growin Up. That album went gold. This dude was on gold and platinum albums before he made it to age ten. He just recently turned 18 a few weeks ago. It made me feel good, cause I went and bought him Pro Tools and a full-fledged studio on Christmas Eve when he was 15. So he been at it, man.
AllHipHop.com: If hes had three years of practice, hes had a lot more than plenty of these chumps out here calling themselves producers.
E-40: Yeah, man. His momma put him in piano for five years. He didnt wanna play. But he knows the notes and keys though. Thats all you need to get ahead. If you can play the piano, you can play any instrument.
AllHipHop.com: Throughout Hip-Hop, weve seen a lot of fathers and sons. But Droop-E seems to be carrying a name independent of yours, thats respected in adult Hip-Hop circles. What similarities do you see in your son?
E-40: The motivation and the creativity – the test of fortitude. With me, I like to do what they dont. I think when you do what they dont, it makes you an innovator. Thats what I always tell him. But he dont need me tellin it, cause hes a natural. Dude is natural like an afro. His beats is he dont wanna sound like everybody. He wanna carve his own signature sound. He tryin to do somethin that people gonna sample in the future. Thats whats cookin for him. He on deck like a sailor.
AllHipHop.com: So Bobby and Barry Bonds arent the only legendary tandem from the Bay?
E-40: Right, exactly. [laughs] We tryin to make game unfold. Thats not just my son, thats my partna. I do be on his head, on his line. He is my son, so I gotta give it to him straight, I cant give it to him late. But thats what a daddy do. Overall, this dude is a humble and hungry dude. Im tryin to make sure he finish up his last year in school. As a daddy, I gotta make sure he stay focused. Theres so much money bein thrown at him and opportunities that he just cant wait till June.
AllHipHop.com: Well come June or July, if he stays on hes got an AllHipHop.com feature coming. I think thatd be fitting.
E-40: That would be fitting, bruh bruh.
AllHipHop.com: So many artists reach a plateau and become inaccessible to their peers. Youve worked with Lyrics Born and Murs, two stars of the underground Hip-Hop world. So much Hip-Hop comes out, but tell me about your commitment to that realm within the genre
E-40: I like Lyrics Born, I like Murs, I like [Talib] Kweli, I like Mos Def, I like the Hieroglyphics. I like all that, man. Its Hip-Hop, man. Music is music. Lyrically, them dudes spit it punchlines and metaphors. Theyre creative. Like, there aint no cap to who I really like.
AllHipHop.com: Tell Me To Go the original and remix have been fire out East. I also heard that as a result of the record, Interscope is courting Keak Da Sneak into a deal. Any comment?
E-40: Everybody tryin to get Keak. Hes a real talented, humble dude. I recognized Keak because his voice is distinctive, he can spit game, and he aint scared to do what they dont. I had him on my album in 1996-1997 on Hall of Game. The album sold 800,000 units, and the name of the song was called Bring It. It was me, [Keak], and Spice-1. Keak opened up the verse. This dude been around, and Im here to see him shine like a diamond. Dude deserves everything that comes to him. Im happy for him. We all kickin in the doors with this song right here. Its the baterram. Its gonna make it easy for the rest of the Bay Area to eat.
AllHipHop.com: Even though Scarface was a legend before Screw music, he helped introduce many of us to the culture. Youve been doing this for 15 years, but I see a large correlation with that and your championing of Hyphy. Plus, youre both veterans at the top of your game
E-40: I got the Bay on my back like a backpack. They got me too. Its a trip though. We kinda got off the scene like in 96, 97. They started checkin for other regions. During that whole time, 40 Water been holdin on like a hubcap in the fast lane consistently puttin out music. I been carryin the Bay on my back since then. I was around when me and The Click and the Sik-Wid-It organization got the attention of all the major labels to come on out here. I was in a biddin war just like Keak is now, in 1993. In 94, I signed with Jive Records. It was the spot a baby Atlanta. In 96 and 97, [Master] P kinda took the rug from up under our feet. He stayed in the Bay. And this aint no disrespect for him. This is what he did. He brought the attention to the South. Dont get it twisted though, there were already rappers in the South eatin, like Kingpin Skinny Pimp, Outkast, 8Ball & MJG, the whole Rap-A-Lot organization, Luke Skywalker and all them. But P opened the doors for the South to get they gouda. Thats when the region went. Even though the West and the South always been cool. Im probably the most South-friendly West Coast rapper. I been workin the South. To get back on the subject though, I been carryin the Bay like that all these years. When you think of the Bay, you think of E-40. Now, here we is again. Im here to see it again. Longevity is everything. The more we all eat, the better we all eat in the Bay.
AllHipHop.com: My last question, man. Youve mentioned The Hall of Game a couple times. On it, you had Thingsll Never Change, which came out in 1996. You retained a wonderful, storied relationship with Tupac. But were you ever bothered that they released an award-winning rehash as Changes of other songs, using that same concept two years later? Was it supposed to be a collaboration?
E-40: As a matter of fact, Im just trippin, cause the last time I seen Pac was at my Hall of Game video. He was playin some of the Makavelli album for me. We were in the trailer, perkin, doin our thing. I said, You know my new handle is 40 Fonzerelli, right? He was like, Yeah, thats a trip cause mine is Makavelli. He got to breakin down who [Machiavelli] was and all that, and this dude was way ahead of his time and all that. He was playin the album, but it didnt have Changes on there. He never heard [Thingsll Never Change]. I never got around to playin my album for him cause I had cats in the camper who was tryin to play they album. I wasnt tryin to goal-tend. Pac already knew what I was about. [I didnt want] 40 hatin, he dont want Pac to hear my music. He was already on Hall of Game album, but he never got to hear it. Thingsll Never Change made it on MTV in fact, its a trip cause I havent had a record on regular MTV since 1996 with [Thingsll Never Change] till Tell Me When To Go. That just goes to show you that if you keep throwin s**t at the wall, eventually, itll stick. Stay on your grind. That shows you right there me and Pac, with the song Changes was on the same page. That Bruce Hornsby thing, man! Thingsll never change.