interview E-40 (March 2011) | Interview By: Nima Etminan

   The Ambassador of the Bay E-40 Water will be releasing two new albums on the same day, the follow ups to last year's two "Revenue Retrievin'" albums, "Overtime Shift" and "Graveyard Shift". To honor this occasion, dubcnn connected with Uncle 40 for an exclusive in-depth interview, which we will be dropping in two parts, one today and one next tuesday, on the albums' release day.

In this first part, we go back in time with 40 and find out what he would have become if he never picked up a mic, how he overcame moments of uncertainty, and how he applies his legendary independent hustle to the internet world.

We also talk about Lil B, the insane amount of free music artists release online and much more. Make sure to check back with us next week for Part 2, where we go in-depth on the two new albums and the E-40 & Too Short album "The History Channel". Yee!

Read on and enjoy. As always feel free to hit up javon@dubcnn.com with questions or comments.

Interview was done in March 2010

Questions Asked By: Nima Etminan
Dubcnn Exclusive – E-40
By: Nima Etminan

E-40 Interview Audio - March 2011: Download
E-40 Dubcnn Shoutout  - March 2011: Download

Dubcnn: We're here with the Ambassador of the Bay E-40 to talk about the two new albums dropping March 29th. But let's start off on a different note… I wanna know, what would Earl Stevens be doing if he never picked up rapping?

E-40: Hahaha. That's a good question right there! I'm not gonna say I'd be in the pen, cause I'm too damn sharp. I got too many other things I could do. To be honest with you I probably would have spent my life in baseball. I was a really good baseball player. Ain't no telling, I've always been a hustler so I would have came up with something. It's just that I've been built for this music, cause I've been playing the drums since I was in 4th grade, I was in a marching band all the way through high school. So I've always had a passion for music. Ain't no telling that's what Jack told Helen mayne!

Dubcnn: Looking back, when would you say was the moment were you know for certain that you were going to be a rapper by profession?

You know what… Let me see. I would say, when I first heard Sugarhill Gang. I knew that's what I wanted to be and I knew I was going to be successful. That was the first rap record I heard being from California, I never heard any of those other rap records that were out on the East Coast on the underground in New York where Hip-Hop originated at. I didn't' get a chance to hear all those records until I heard Sugarhill Gang "Rapper's Delight". From then on, I knew I was gonna be a rapper, I didn't stop rapping from there, I was 11 years old.

Dubcnn: Did you ever have any moments of doubt or uncertainty throughout your career?

Hell yeah, man. Me, having an unorthodox style, all odds was against me. And me being from a small little city called Vallejo - if you blink you might miss my little city - we didn't have no outlets, no handouts, we didn't ask nobody for nothing. At that time, Oakland was the rap scene (as far as the Bay) and I'm from Vallejo, which is 30 minutes outside of Oakland. It was times when some of my biggest fans of today used to think I was wack! They did, but they're my biggest fans now. But some of my fans, as soon as they heard me, fell in love with me. So it's crazy, like I said, me with a unorthodox rap style, but who really be saying some shit, I really had doubts - well no, not doubts, I'm sorry… But as a youngster, I lost faith, cause I was living the street life and I wanted out. My grand daddy was a preacher, I was the first born and I kept the church and God in my life. My grandmother used to always tell me to keep my faith in God to help me and that's what did it for me.

Once I had those little bit of fans that liked my shit as soon as they heard and then the other fans who didn't like it at first came around a couple of months later and said they were feeling it, you smell me? That's when I knew I was on the case. But as a young man, when you're in the streets and you're trying to make it happen in the rap game as a teenager, you really lived stressed out. I didn't wanna continue to be living on the other side of the thang - what I mean by that is that I didn't wanna continue to live in the streets. God helped me get out of that thang and he did and I never looked back. God is good, man.

Dubcnn: As you mentioned, you've always had your own style, your own flow and a unique sound. Who were the main influences and persons that helped shape the artist E-40 as we know him today?

There was a few of them to be real with you. One of the main ones was Too Short. One thing about Short is, he was rapping before me even though he is not much older than me, just a couple of years. But he was ahead of his time and being from Oakland, they lived a much faster life. Oakland was always faster and I used to be out there all the time with my cousins, I spent my summers out there. So I had gotten a bar of that game, mixed with a little bit of Richmond, which is like 15 minutes from Vallejo.

I always grew up on some guys by the name of Calvin T and Magic Mike out of Richmond, some of the coldest rappers ever, especially Calvin T. They had their ups and downs and that's what kind of stopped their momentum. But they're still around and I always pay homage and let the people know who I grew up on. Too Short, Calvin T, Magic Mike, Ice T, KRS One, Melly Mel, of course Run DMC, all the old schoolers. Oh yeah and Kangol of U.T.F.O., his voice tone, the way he used to get down with his lyrics. All of this mixed with a dude from the streets, which is me, and being a character and a lightweight comedian, you smell me? Not really a stand up comedian, but just hella funny, I like to make people laugh. That's how I came up with E-40, real creative, a guy that's been around music all his life, played the drums all the way from the 4th grade to high school. Yup!

Dubcnn: You came up in the analog age where the Majors ruled the world, but you actually were one the artists who laid the blueprint for marketing independent music successfully. Do you think having that history helped you transition into the digital age?

I think so, cause right now I'm back on square one! I ran into one of my OG's and he was like "Man 40, you doing the right shit, you gotta do everything like it's day one. You gotta hustle like it's day one. You doing the right shit." Just like you said, I did it in the analog days and now I'm doing it in the digital days. People don't know my struggle, what we did was a hard hustle man. I hear some people that say "Man, who signed him?" I've seen these things on Twitter and things like that. Man, I signed myself! I did all of this on my own, me and my group that I rap with, The Click. We didn't come up under no major artists or no major deal, we did it independently which is harder than any of their favorite rappers could ever do.

We did our shit from the grassroots, cause the streets fucked with us and they still do. Bonafied street niggas that really made it in the industry. My family The Click got a Gold fuckin' record, the first family ever to get a Gold plaque, right after us it was Master P with TRU, which is C-Murder, Silk Tha Shocker and Master P. But we was before them. People don't know I mastered the independent hustle. I could go on and on forever but you know that whole hustle with what we did.

Dubcnn: I already know, but how do you compare the street grind to the online grind, where you blast out to the blogs and entertain an ongoing relationship with your fans through social networks?

Flyers and posters and stickers will always work because everybody don't have computers and smartphones. But a lot of people do. In the inner city you know that it's always money in the ghetto, because no matter how hard we always say we got it in the ghetto, the kids are still always gonna have some fresh pair of Jordans on, you smell me? In the ghetto, when we gotta go to a wedding or a club, we gotta get flashy for that night, we're gonna spend all we got to look right. So the majority of the ghetto got smartphones and shit now, computers and shit like that. So now online, you're waking their game up through WorldStarHipHop and all these other websites, SOHH and shit online. It's called online free promotions now. So you do it all, the street stuff and your online campaign and you in the mix like bisquicks. Nowadays, video shows that play rap music are not available to all like they used to be. It's nothing out there, so you gotta hit them online.

It's a lot of rappers that are still active and doing it behind the scenes on the tuck, independently, people just don't know it cause it ain't on 106 & Park or all on a big screen. The people that you used to hear on the radio from the West Coast, you don't hear them no more so you think that they fell off, when really they're doing their thang. I'm talking about radio stations in the Mid-West and in the South, cause they stick to their own kind. West Coast artists got it bad, cause it ain't like we're putting out bad music, we're just not putting out music that matches today's standard sound. We're stubborn, we do what we wanna do.

I put out the kinda music that I wanna do. So they don't play it! Like my song "Bitch", it was called "Trick" for the radio, with Too Short. 50 Cent hopped on it and when he did, that's when radio got on it. But when me and Short had it, we serviced it out there and a couple of stations on the West Coast was on the case, but it was like… "Aw man, them West Coast dudes." It's like just because you're from the West Coast, they're not playing it, they're not fuckin' with it! Especially in Atlanta, it's so many West Coast muthafuckas out there! It's a lot of West Coast people that stay in Atlanta and I guess they figure Atlanta ain't gonna feel it if they play it cause it's a West Coast rapper. But nah, that's not it! Play the shit! It's only one artist from the West Coast - Snoop - and I'm not hating on him, Snoop is a worldwide individual, he's been doing it for many moons! Not as long as me, but he's one of the most familiar faces on earth, period. *laughs* Right now we're guilty by affiliation.

Dubcnn: Like WC said… He had an album called that.

See? I didn't even know that and that's one of my folks. It's really the truth though! *laughs* I'm just being honest and telling you the truth about how shit is. It's a fucked up game right now, my dude. You can have a hit, and it still gets left over. You gotta kind like follow their format and I'm not into trying to dumb down my shit, belittle myself and adjust to the format of how shit goes. I'd rather just be me. I'm at the point now where I'm like "Love me for me." You ain't gotta listen to my music, turn the shit off if my shit comes on if you think I'm whack or something, my nigga. Cause it's real muthafuckas out there that think I'm the best that ever did this shit.

Dubcnn: You, along with a few others artists like Tech N9ne, have over the years attracted an extremely loyal following and you seem to have an intimate relationship with your fans. Where do you draw the line between letting the listeners into your world and your privacy?

Ah you just gotta analyze and think things out before you say them. On social networks, people do want to get into your world. Back in the days, we used to have to use real fan mail, like you would actually write back. So now, you just let people know your day to day thing you're doing, they wanna know how normal you is! I'll wake up in the morning and tell everybody "Get on your knees and thank God that you are on your feet" or something like that. You smell me? Just little stuff like that. I'm not trying to act like I'm this super saved Christian or nothing like that, I'm just being honest, I fear God and have a lot of God in my heart and I know what got me where I'm at and who wakes me up every morning. So I say things like that to interact with my fans and they feel it, because a lot of people are the same way.

Dubcnn: You can build your own little online army… I mean Lil B did it!

Yeah he did! He did! Lil B a one man army, he's doing his thang! I'm happy for the youngster, real muthafuckin' talk! Shit! That's big!

Dubcnn: In the last few years, we have seen an insane amount of free music coming out and artists leak out entire albums for free download online. Do you think this can be hurtful to the business, as consumers lose the idea of actually spending money on music?

That's a tricky question. I think people are gonna spend money on whatever they want to spend money on. If you're one of the artists where they really want a collectors item with the physical CD, they're gonna get up out of bed and go buy your music. If you're somebody that always continues to put out free music, they're gonna expect that in the future. And they're gonna expect that when you come out with your real album that it's much better than the free music you've been putting out - cause people are very biased and opinionated real tough nowadays. So if the album you put out don't reach up to the expectations of the fanbases ears, then you fucked up even more!

People are gonna be like "Man I like his mixtapes better than his real albums!" You know how muthafuckas is! *laughs* So that's a tricky situation man! I understand the new hustle, the new putting shit out online, cause that's a good way. But don't do it all the time though, just do a couple of them. I don't suggest that you just keep on doing it! Do it just to get your name kinda cool. Then, start putting out some music that they can really buy and put some bread your pocket! That's my philosophy. I don't know it all, I'm a nigga with an already established fanbase that's been doing it for years, got platinum and gold records, so I can't really speak for everybody else, ya dig?

Dubcnn: Now some music that fans SHOULD be spending their money on are the two new albums you have coming out on March 29th, "Revenue Retrievin: Overtime Shift" and "Revenue Retrievin: Graveyard Shift". Should we consider these albums extensions of the first two "Revenue Retrievin" records?

Get the answer in Part 2 next week!




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