E-40 needs no introduction. At this point of his career, interviews are merely a favor to whoever’s asking. Although there lies a slew of nicknames to accurately describe the West Coast spitter — 40 Water, Uncle Earl, Charlie Hustle, E-Feezy — Ambassador of the Bay remains at the top. And still, with over three and a half decades of experience in the rap game, real name Earl T. Stevens is a walking legend far beyond his hometown of Vallejo.
The rapper has remained consistent with his lyricism, laying standout punchlines, clever wordplay, and powerful bars over bass-rattling West Coast production. Whether you want to call a record a “bop,” a “blap,” or a “slapper,” E-40 simply does not miss. It was his 2009 hit “Tell Me When To Go” that not only became a viral sensation, but defined the Hyphy Movement, which spread into a worldwide phenomenon. We’re talking going dumb, shaking your dreads, sideshows, ghostriding the whip, throwing up the T (with a thiz face), or simply giggin’ at the function.
It’s throwback songs like “Sprinkle Me,” “Candy (Drippin’ Like Water),” “White Gurl” that ensue instant nostalgia that brings you back to that time and place where DJs would throw down at every house party, club, or “Function.” The Sick Wid It Records founder is unanimously viewed as a godfather to all Bay Area artists coming up, including his protege Nef Tha Pharaoh who’s even been dubbed the modern-day Mac Dre.
E-40’s passion and drive for music directly translates into his businesses, naturally excelling as an entrepreneur. Whether it was his 40 Water energy drinks, E-40 beer cans, or his current Earl Stevens wine beverage line, the 51-year-old rap mogul is out here getting his paper and inspiring the world to do the same.
This brings us to summer 2019, as he unleashes his 28th studio album titled Practice Makes Paper with standout guest appearances from Rick Ross, Tee Grizzley, Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa, and even Scarface. The 26-track project follows last year’s The Gift of Gab, which reminded folks who the true inventor of Bay Area lingo is.
Lead single “Chase The Money” featuring Quavo, Roddy Ricch, A$AP Ferg, and ScHoolboy Q is a sure contender for song of the summer. REVOLT caught up with E-40 to discuss the creative process behind Practice Makes Paper, his thoughts on mumble rap, Roddy Ricch’s ability to collab and more.
What inspires you to create music today?
The love of music. The love as an art. First as an occupation, but it’s something I’ve been loving to do since I was a teenager.
Congrats on Practice Makes Paper! The first record with B-Legit slaps (‘Wake They Shit Up’).
Aw man, B-Legit been on every album probably except for one. Out of all 28 something albums I ever did, he’s been on about 27 of them. It’s our family tradition. Me and that dude go together like gin and juice.
Can you talk about the creative process behind this album?
I wanted to make sure I touch all angles of the game. I wanted to make sure I did a lot of collabs, but in a different way where these collabs are all on one song. If you notice ‘Chase The Money,’ I had two people on the hook. I had Quavo and Roddy Ricch, which is really unheard of to have two people on the hook like that. Then, I had Schoolboy Q and A$AP Ferg on the record, so that’s five of us on the record. That’s four features!
ChaseTheMoney told me you worked hard for eight months to put that record together. What was your decision to name it “Chase The Money”?
He sent me a blap! It actually was sent to me a while ago and I kept hearing it. My boy Yaki had the original beat, I was like, ‘Yaki man, lemme get this record. Lemme get this beat.’ Yaki a good dude, we worked it out. He let me do it.
Walk us through the creative process of the song, and why you chose Quavo, Roddy, Ferg and Q.
I didn’t know where it was going to go, I just knew it was going to be a great record. I knew that blap, that beat slapped so hard, then Quavo did his thing. Roddy Rich killed it from the gate! I had my verse already. When Roddy heard me saying, ‘Look at me bitch, look at the way I carry myself. Look at the way I’m winnin,’ look at this liquid around my neck, look how they shimmerin,’ that’s when he was like [sings], ‘Look at the way that I been…’
“…pushin’ in that Hellcat!”
He just killed it. That’s what a true artist does. They peep how the song’s going, what are we talking about? What are the first opening lines? And you collab. That’s a real collaboration, that dude is so talented. Then, I called Schoolboy Q, I called A$AP Ferg, and they got on there for me.
How easy is it for you hit somebody and be like ‘Yo, I need a verse.’
Them dudes is good people. I rock with those who rock with me. They came through for me, just like I’d come through for them.
I loved hearing Quavo shouted out Splash Bros. Do you feel like the rest of the country is hip to the Bay?
Oh fasho! Of course, hell yeah. That was dope. Quavo’s girlfriend Saweetie is from the Bay. He been rockin’ with us though.
Top 3 Bay Area terms that people need to know and why?
Because it’s just hip hop: Captain Save A Hoe. Captain Save a Hoe is a dude who makes a girl who’s already been with thousands of men into his girlfriend and buys her everything. Treats the girl who hasn’t been with no men like she ain’t shit (laughs). That’s a Captain Save a Hoe.
Slappin’: Slappin’ is when your music sounds great. It originated from me making it sound like King Kong and Godzilla in the trunk thumpin’, back there really fighting or something. Really the trunk is rattling and just slappin’.
Hella: Hella is hella, we need hella of ‘em, man. We need hella more. It means more.
I went back to ‘Get Naked You Beezy’ by The Federation the other day.
Oh yeah, The Federation used to go crazy! They got down with me on ‘Go Hard and Go Home.’ So dope, shout out to Rick Rock and The Federation.
Who pissed you off in ‘I Don’t Like Em?’
Nobody, just bitch motherfuckers. That’s all. No particular names. If the shoe fits, wear it. I just don’t like bitch shit, sucka shit!
Echo (E-40’s publicist): Scotch tape! That’s my favorite lyric.
Yeah, I can see right through ‘em like Scotch tape (chuckles).
I know artists tend to have their own favorites that aren’t singles. What songs means the most to you on this project?
One song that means the most to me is a song that my son Moshpit dude produced called ‘Bet You Didn’t Know’ because there’s never been a song like that. It’s dropping gems. It’s dropping street knowledge, straight knowledge period. It’s telling you things you didn’t know. Even people who are older, things they didn’t even know. Like the fact that $14 a month will get you basic life insurance. Or oatmeal scrapes the plaque off of your arteries, small things like that. Then, I dropped some biblical stuff like David killed Goliath with a slingshot.
You’re a Bay Area legend and now an incredible entrepreneur. Did you have a mentor in the game who taught you like you mentor all these new Bay cats?
As far as rappers… not really. I had people I looked up to like Too Short. Listening to his music, I like how he spit a lot of his street life in it. That made me really be like, ‘Man I gotta paint a picture of my life. What I’ve been through, this that and the third.’ I didn’t have no mentor as far as someone who taught me things as a rapper. No rappers taught me nothing.
What do you see in [your protege] Nef Tha Pharoah?
I see a young, ambitious, very talented rapper who will get onstage and turn it out. Turn out large crowds and make his presence felt. Nef Tha Pharaoh is so talented, I think he’s just one hit away from taking off.
I grew up to Mac Dre, sideshows, Keak The Sneak, The Jacka… what are your fondest memories from the Hyphy movement?
[The years] 2005, 2006 when everybody was organic energy from the Bay Area. That movement was just natural. Everybody was doing it. Everybody had dreadlocks, it wasn’t just one particular person. The youngstas, the kids, everybody. That became Bay Area culture, it was already that.
Did you have dreadlocks?
Yeah, I grew dreadlocks just to do it. I did it because it was funny. I just put it in my lyrics: ‘I ain’t got none but I’m planning on growing some.’ I wasn’t really planning on it. I’m like you know what, that would be a trip if I really grow some. I had long hair, I had perms, afros, all that when I was younger, but not no dreads. So I said, ‘I’ma grow some dreads.’ It was the right time, too, because everybody got ‘em in the Bay. Everybody!
You recently mentioned Nipsey wanted you on ‘Grinding All My Life,’ but you couldn’t get it back in time. What was Nip’s influence on your own career?
It was vice versa, I like the way he got down and he liked the way I got down. Music-wise, we had a mutual respect for one another. RIP Nipsey.
What’s one thing you wish you could tell your younger self now?
I’d tell my younger self, ‘You did a great job as a young man, E-40.’
What’s your stance on mumble rap, since you’re known to rap in such a unique way?
I don’t know, but please don’t put me in the mumble rap category. You can hear what I’m saying. I ain’t rapping too fast, they just listening too slow. As far as mumble rap, it’s the pattering. Sometimes that shit works. They probably are saying something, too, you just don’t know what the hell they’re saying. I’m not knocking nobody. As long as you’re making your living, you ain’t did nothing to me or said some disrespectful shit, get your money.
What’s the biggest challenge/issue for the music industry right now?
Ain’t really no challenges, it’s just staying sucker free.
‘Sprinkle Me’ was my SHIT. What’s one song of yours you wish you could re-release in 2019?
‘Ghetto Celebrity’ because it was just so ahead of its time. ‘Ghetto Celebrity’ featuring Suga T on the hook.
Have you considered doing an EDM collaboration?
I think I’d kill it. I’ve always been ready for it. I never did it, but I was always on deck for it. If I had the right opportunity, I’d do it.
Anything else you want to let us know?
Thanks to all my fans. Make sure to go get Practice Makes Paper. This one, I stuck my feet in this thang, man! If you ain’t got this, you trippin’ hard. Whatever you listening to, it ain’t fuckin with Practice Makes Paper. I can guarantee you that. That’s a full album I got that goes crazy. Hello!**