Lately I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with any interviews that come out for artists I’m interested in (or interested in being interested in), but the more of them I find, the more I realize how much time I’ve spent not being very up to date about that side of the music I listen to. So I’ve made an effort to search around for some older interviews that might provide an interesting snapshot of some artist at a different phase of their career than they’re at now. This can be especially interesting with rap, where tastes and styles change and morph so quickly to the point that you only need to go back a few years to see some surprisingly different ideas and sounds being talked about.
One of the interviews that didn’t necessarily provide me with a ton of info (mostly due to its length and lack of very substantive questions) but I definitely enjoyed a lot was the Fader Q+A with E-40 from back in 2008. It’s particularly interesting to read this article in 2012 with all of the election talk that’s happening right now; 40 expounds on his excitement for voting for Obama in the upcoming election (“I’m voting for Obama. I’m voting for Obama all day.”) with the palpable enthusiasm that I think a lot of us felt around that time, that “what’s going to happen if he gets in there??” feeling that made a lot of people, like E-40 as we find out, vote for the first time in a presidential election. Pretty interesting.
Another notable part of this interview for me was when he was talking about his newest video at the time, “Poor Man’s Hydraulics“, and how the filming of it went down. Apparently they didn’t jump through all the bureaucratic hoops you’re supposed to when shooting a video of this type.
If we had been out there to get permits and all that, they wouldn’t have even let us shoot it. So we did it guerilla style. We from a small city, but we a lot of players and gangstas, and intelligent hoodlums, we got a lot of talented people out there. So we was just like, Let’s hurry up and do this, cause we know the po-po gon’ shut us down.
I think this move on E-40’s part is very telling about his approach to music and art in general. The album he’s pumping in this interview is his 11th, and he’d been a successful rapper for over 15 years at this point, but here is sporting dreads for the first time in his life (“I was just doing it to just do it”), shooting a video for his newest single in his hometown totally “guerilla style”, without permission from the authorities and having to shut down early because they eventually did get busted by the police. I think a lot of artists, understandably, once they reach a certain age and point in their career they start to kinda sit back and don’t feel the excitement of taking risks that E-40 always has. He explains that attribute of himself very bluntly in that same interview:
I ain’t scared to roll the dice, a lot of other cats might be scared. I’ve been taking chances on my career my whole life. To those that never had an E-40 album, I’m not just a radio guy, my albums have concepts, I got something on there for everybody. Also, read up on my discography, be open minded, ‘cuz I’m not gonna sound like your favorite rapper. I’m in my own lane. At the end of the day, you gon’ say, You know what? That boy 40, one thing about him, he had his own thing, he was unique, he was a trendsetter, and he poked out like nipples.
I’ve got piles of respect for that, and I think E-40’s model is one that many rappers would benefit greatly from following. I mean, how many rappers do you know that put out triple–disc albums of brand new material of a very consistent quality when they’ve already been rapping for over 20 years? I can only think of one.
E-40 – Poor Man’s Hydraulics