Review Summary: E-40 is a pretty great beat rider.
It’s dead, and it has been for quite awhile now. West coast rap, no matter how many occasional sparkling moments it has, just can’t manage to steadily shine due to the accumulating rust left from the 90’s gangsta rap movement that originated in Los Angeles, California. And, given, Los Angeles always had a higher concentration of talent, and a greater abundance of hip-hop artists than its neighbor region of the Bay, but believe it or not, the sub-region has contributed to the drop off of the west. However, recently, there’s been a resurgence of California With up-and-coming artists like Jay Rock and Nipsey Hu$$le leading the charge in combating the mainstream popularity of the south in order to put the left coast back on top, it’s interesting to observe all the rappers who are trying to not only resurrect the region, but to come out as the best when (and if) they manage to revive it.
So, as an old-time Oakland rapper, where does E-40 fit into this equation? The answer is “nowhere.” A west coast O.G. who, at 42 years old, has been down with hip-hop since ’91 has practically run his course in the game at this point. With no influence at all, by this point in time, E-40 is either trying to, A) sell as many records as possible, B) make the best album he can, or C) go for both. It’s apparent he picked option “C.” But that doesn't mean this record isn't any good.
It’s easy to understand how people could hate E-40. His ‘06 hit song “Tell Me When To Go” featured a terrible, repetitive hook and drab lyrics. But after almost two decades, E-40’s thick, ghetto-nerd voice and light speed syllabics still serve to make him a great beat rider. Although his crack-cooking, trap-star lyrics are neither clever, nor original, E-40 makes up for it with his delivery, and his fun instrumentals.
Exhibiting possibly the best percussion I’ve heard in a while, E-40 employs hollow, subtle kicks, African tribal bongos, and Jamaican reggae drums, and whether or not they’re backed by downplayed, yet infectious, synths and extremely low keyboarding (“B*tch”,) rapid stutter sampling, and sporadic, squeaky synths (“Duck,”) or the typical hyphy adornments (“Lightweight Jammin’’ and “I’m a Teach Ya How To Sell Dope,” to name a few) the beats are awesome. However, after the first nine tracks, things take a slight turn downwards. E-40’s god awful hook writing is incredibly evident the further you proceed into the album, with hooks like “I’m a teach ya how to sell, I’m a teach ya how to sell, I’m a teach ya how to sell, I’m a teach ya how to sell DOPE” somehow making their way onto an album that was not made as a joke.
To top things off, E-40 – as mentioned before – isn’t a top tier lyricist. Aside from the occasionally humorous statement like “I sold crack to ya momma, that’s why you a crack baby, but I don’t like to brag about that,
” E-40 makes just-sufficient lyrics that don’t pop up as positively or negatively notable.
His delivery is fun, and the beats are awesome, so of course E-40 delivers some great songs on here (“Whip It Up,” “B*tch,”) Maybe this could be a 3.5 if he wasn’t such a terrible chorus writer. Oh well, I didn’t expect this to be very good, and the fact that it is merits a listen.