Tag Archives: E-40

2016 RAP

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  1. Boosie Badazz – Mann
    Young Thug is still the best rapper breathing but Boosie owned 2016 for me and that’s not just because he gave me a pound on the DFW airport tram wearing pink socks.  After stirring some mainstream attention in 2015 when he got out of jail while simultaneously releasing some of his weakest material to date, multiple personal tragedies struck late last year to reawaken Boosie’s deepest talents and push them to the heights we witnessed in 2016.  Boosie has long been on my Top 5 Rappers with the Most Conviction, but 2016 might put him at #1.  So many have spoken nearly identical words, but with Boosie you believe him; and by that I don’t mean the literal content of the sentences, but the emotional force behind them.  Only a fool would believe the literal truth of every word any rapper says, but let me at least believe that you really feel the way you’re claiming, and not just selecting an emotion or message you think will make people think you’re deep or smart or relevant or scary or whatever image you’re going for.  When you hear a Boosie song from 2016, you know that each time he stepped into the booth he made the only song that he could have possibly made at that moment.  So many rap songs sound like the result of board room conversations or long ponderings about what kind of song would be relevant at this moment in the cultural zeitgeist (e.g. every Kanye West song).  With Boosie you’re getting the rawest, most pure expression of his perfectly flawed self at every moment, and that is a rare gift to receive as a listener.  Everyone wants you to believe that 2016 was terrible (and this song is in fact a great soundtrack to that sentiment), but for me it will forever be the year I proposed to the woman I love and gave Boosie a pound on the DFW airport tram.
  2. Young Thug – King TROUP
    While “Harambe” stood out out as perhaps the most marked development of Thug’s style this year, my favorite version of Young Thug right now (there are so many…) is the delicate, restrained version.  Maybe I’m just always one step behind his movements; last year I thought Barter 6 was boring on first listen and wanted the wild, unpredictable Thug back, now he breaks his voice screaming an entire song at me and all I want is whispers and syncopated empty space.
  3. Spodee – Black & Flashing
    It was almost as hard to pick a Spodee song for this list as it was to pick a Young Thug song for this list, his music touched me in so many different ways on different songs that it’s hard to say what the “best” was.  In situations like these I let the song that makes my body do the most interesting things break the tie, which is how we get “King TROUP” and “Black & Flashing“.
  4. Denzel Curry – Purrposely
    Now that Percocet, Xanax, & MDMA are the dominant rap drugs it’s rare to get such raw aggression from today’s artists like Denzel achieves here.  Boosie of course also achieved it with “Finish U” but he is the exception to every rule.
  5. Kodak Black – Slayed (feat. Boosie Badazz)
    Kodak Black wins Best Pronunciation of 2016.  The dropped consonants and captivating “ur” syllable repetition throughout his verse on “Slayed” are enough to keep my interest alone, but there’s so much more to this mournful track than this, and the mixtape that contains this gem is easily Kodak’s strongest project to date.
  6. Lil’ Wayne guest spots
    Sometimes you give up on artists only to have them nonchalantly waltz back into your life with an impossibly turned-around trajectory and revitalization.  Wayne did this for me in 2016 but puzzlingly only in his features, most notably “I Got A Question“, “Mad“, and “Bout That“.
  7. Tree – Heard Nothing
    We already know Tree had the non-rhyming chorus of the year on “All Dat“, but “Heard Nothing” is actually the best song on that project.  It’s easy to think of Tree as an artist with a single signature style that is just as deep, personal, and sincere as it is predictable (we’re still pretending like Trap Genius never happened, remember).  But “Heard Nothing” truly breaks new stylistic ground for Tree and I’m glad to hear him still experimenting with new flows and approaches to songs.  The almost mumbling, trailing off, crossing-the-bar complexity of phrase in this song is a far cry from the “I’m a better gangster than my father was…” one-liner style we’re accustomed to, and even though I could listen to infinite iterations of Tree rehashing his Sunday School flow for eternity, development and growth are certainly refreshing as well.
  8. Future – In Abundance
    The first few months of 2016 saw an abundance (see what I did there?) of Future releases but this loosie moved me more than anything on those mixtapes/albums/EPs/whatever they’re called now.  You might think of this as Future’s “King TROUP“, which is probably why I love it – constant delicate whispered syncopation.
  9. D.R.A.M. – Broccoli (feat. Lil’ Yachty)
    This song is way higher on the list than it should be but I just realized we’re almost 10 songs in and every track has been pretty heavy on the dark, sad, lonely, angry spectrum so here’s a beautifully fun happy song to vibe to for a few minutes before I make you listen to another song about death and loss.
  10. Chance the Rapper – Summer Friends (feat. Jeremih & Francis & the Lights)
    Y’all already know how I feel about Coloring Book, but even I can’t deny the beauty of this track.  Not only is it the only understated moment on that whole album, but it finally pairs Chance & Jeremih on the same song, something I’ve been wishing for since I first heard “Oui” and saw some parallel stylistic leanings.  The only way to improve this track would be to increase the Jeremih ratio by a factor of at least 3; matter of fact they should have kicked whoever Francis & the Lights is off the track completely and let Jeremih do all the singing.
  11. Zeroh – clock
    Zeroh makes rap music that’s actually as crazy as Desiigner and Danny Brown want you to think their music is.
  12. YG – Who Shot Me?
    A lot of the best music this year was the result of tragedy and pain.  Tree almost lost his mom, Boosie got cancer, and YG got shot under circumstances that made him call into question the loyalty of those closest to him.  I’m not thankful for any of these events but I admire these artists’ ability to transform these tragic moments into captivating, timely pieces of music for us lucky listeners.
  13. Ty Dolla $ign – What Are We Doing?
    A rare & welcome moment of honest introspection from Ty.  This song is tied with “No Justice” but wins out on the list because “No Justice” is arguably not even a rap song.
  14. Fetty Wap & PNB Rock – Addicted
    This mixtape was unexpected in so many ways, from the odd artist pairing to its surprising replayability.  PNB came into my awareness via “Too Many Years“, and we all know how Fetty Wap was introduced, but nothing about these artists histories or styles warned me that they’d come together to make this weirdly enjoyable mixtape that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.  What each of these rapper/singers lack in raw talent they more than make up for in chemistry on the best moments of Money, Hos & Flows, and that chemistry is best exemplified on the opening track where they calmly trade fours over an unassuming IBeatz production, somehow able to constantly hold my attention through three and a half minutes of pretty middling rap.
  15. Cousin Fik – Learn Sumn (feat. K00l John)
    Glad to see punchline rap alive and well in the bay thanks to Fik.  Sickest Nigga Healthy 3 is worth your time.
  16. Ezale & DJ Fresh
    See I like happy rap songs too!
  17. Nef the Pharaoh – Michael Jackson
    We’re getting into more stream-of-consciousness selection than song ranking at this point, I’m just gonna go ahead and knock out all the 2016 Bay Area jams now.  I think this song actually came out in late 2015 but it’s the best track on the 2016 Cardo/Nef tape so it gets a pass. “Say Daat” is good too.
  18. Mistah F.A.B. – Up Until Then (feat. Boosie Badazz & Iamsu!)
    Son of a Pimp, Pt. 2 turned out to be pretty disappointing but this track still jams.  I hope someday Iamsu! starts having fun making music again, sometime around 2013 we went this weird serious/aloof direction and his music has only suffered as a result.  This at least has a glimmer of that former lightheartedness, with strong verses from F.A.B. and Boosie.
  19. E-40 – Slappin’ (feat. Nef the Pharoah and D.R.A.M.)
    Before “Broccoli” captured everyone’s hearts and attention, this banger was in heavy rotation in my world, and still gets frequent revisits.  E-40 has a similar effect on Nef that Birdman had on Wayne in Like Father, Like Son – Nef checks his ego just enough to focus on rapping well instead of the kind of self-indulgent wanderings we’ve seen on some of his recent releases.  D.R.A.M. is also great on this song, pulling off a chorus only he could.
  20. Lil’ Durk – Check
    Last year two artists clicked for me after years of being unable to appreciate their music – Jeezy & Lil’ Durk.  I’m still not sure if their styles changed or my brain did (maybe both), but I’m happy I have two more active rappers whose releases I can be excited about.  Durk 2x is awesome, and “Check” is easily one of the best album openers of 2016.
  21. Jeezy – Goldmine
    Trap or Die 3 wasn’t quite as strong as last year’s eye-opening Gangsta Party but there’s still plenty to vibe to on this tape – see “Bout That” on #6 above.
  22. 9% Camp – Shit Right
    Gotta give these cats props for going in hard on a 6/8 beat like it’s nothing.
  23. Jeremih – Giv No Fuks (feat. Migos)
    I know this came out in late 2015 and Jeremih is not a rapper, but this is a rap song and none of us had time to fully process Late Nights: The Album before this year, so it deserves its place on this list.
  24. Nipsey Hussle – Basic Instinct
    Slauson Boy 2 is great, and this song feels like if you boiled that whole mixtape down into its most potent extract and then dripped a droplet of it onto each eyeball.
  25. Ka – Mourn at Night
    Honor Killed the Samurai wasn’t a huge step forward for Ka or anything, but was still one of the albums I listened to the most this year.  This is an especially swirly one that contrasts beautifully with Ka’s stone cold delivery.
  26. Starlito – Greatness
    Now that his friend Red Dot is out of jail, Starlito will definitely have to come up with some more album, shout-out, and song title sources, and I wonder if it might even shift his whole creative direction in some way with how heavy that message has been in the past few years.  Maybe that’s how we got Starlito rapping over a hopeful Jazzy Pha beat and not talking about depression every few bars.
  27. Justiiice – Running in Circles
    I’m pumped that my Justiiice pick for this year is still on Soundcloud to post after having my 2015 pick disappear from the Internet before I could pay it homage.  Anyone still doubting Chief Keef’s influence on today’s rap or auto-tune’s emotive power should study this song thoroughly.
  28. Vince Staples – Big Time
    Little Bit of This had a cool video but I think “Big Time” is the best Vince Staples song this year.
  29. ScHoolboy Q – By Any Means (Part 1)
    How “That Part” became as huge as it did this year will forever be a mystery to me, but this track might actually be my favorite ScHoolboy Q song ever (which isn’t saying much because I don’t actually like him but one of my favorite things is when an artist I don’t like makes a song I do like so enjoy).  Parts 2 & 3 ain’t bad either.
  30. Danny Brown – Lost (as of this writing, the only YoutTube link for this is actually weird instrumental funk song that has nothing to do with “Lost“, so this is the only link to a paid streaming service, sorry for it)
    Maybe it just needs a little more time to grow on me, but Danny Brown’s Warp debut didn’t quite rub me the right way.  Unlike the best moments of XXX and Old, Atrocity Exhibition shows Danny Brown at his least synergistic with the production he’s choosing.  Most of the raps don’t feel like they were written or even chosen for the beat they’re on, and as a result the rhythm and cadence of the individual lines don’t interlock very well with the rhythm and cadence of the music.  It sounds disjointed and sloppy and not in the good ways that Danny Brown can sound disjointed and sloppy.  The off-kilter production serves to highlight not Danny’s weirdness or individuality, but rather exposes his rap style as being surprisingly basic.  The dominant aesthetic is warbly unquantized sample with disconnected single couplets in a weird voice.  There are a lot of cool textures and gestures throughout, but “Lost” is one of the only tracks that feels cohesive in the way I know Danny Brown can be; and by that I mean cohesive within a single song, the album as a whole is quite cohesive.
  31. Curren$y – Told Me That
    I’ll admit I haven’t paid much attention to Curren$y since he left Young Money and the best parts of his rap style behind back in ’07 or whenever that was.  Luckily I try to listen to everything Starlito puts out so I happened to catch this moment where a glimmer of Curren$y’s former A game peeked out from the darkness.  For the first time since the “Ridin’ with the AK” era we hear Curren$y making the words fit the groove instead of the other way around.  This is when Curren$y sounds his best, putting just the right syllables on the right places in the bar, and emphasizing just the right moments to pull you into the flow of the beat even more strongly than before.  Now that I know he’s still capable of this, it makes me wonder if these gems are sprinkled through his whole back catalog just under the surface.  Anybody know whether or not that’s the case so I don’t have to spend the next month listening to a bunch of weak ass Curren$y songs?
  32. Lil’ B – Finess ‘Em
    Now more than ever we need to remember that Lil’ B exists and take his music to heart.
  33. Mozzy – Messy Murder Scenes
    Rap game Energizer bunny on this one.
  34. Ralo – My Brothers (feat. Future)
    I’ll admit a lot of the driving force of this track comes from Southside and Future, but Ralo holds his own on this uncharacteristically upbeat track, and is definitely an easier listen than most of the other tracks on Diary of the Streets 2.  It’s possible that my ear just hasn’t quite adjusted to Ralo’s usual voice and delivery, but I find that I enjoy his songs most when he’s got a little bit of staccato mixed in with the constant dragged-out lilt of his crazy ass voice.  I’ve got faith he’ll catch his stride and hone his sound, or that I’ll come to realize he’s been great all along and just couldn’t hear it.
  35. Earl Sweatshirt – Mirror
    Earl stays comfortably in his own lane with this one, relying on the strength of his lyrics and delivery to keep you engaged with this wildly gritty production.  I’m absolutely in favor of this kind of under-produced basement rap, as long as it has the urgency and vibrancy Earl exhibits on songs like “Mirror“.
  36. Tate Kobang – Oh My
    Also in favor of the stripped-down physicality of songs like “Oh My“, it’s a nice break from the hazy somberness and detachment of so much of today’s rap.
  37. Butch Dawson – Ain’t No Limit I Go
    This song does a great job of never giving  you quite what you want but in a very endearing way, like an older brother holding a piece of candy just out of your reach with a big grin on his face but you know he loves you.
  38. Noname – Sunny Duet (feat. theMIND)
    I haven’t heard a female rapper be this playful and lyrical at the same time since Ladybug Mecca and its wonderful to hear.
  39. DJ Carnage – Mase in ’97 (feat. Lil’ Yachty)
    Here’s a pretty serious rap conundrum – Yachty spitting “hella bars” on a song named after a 90s rapper [scratching chin emoji].
  40. Z-Ro – New Shit
    Ro keeps it almost too real on this one with the “I don’t do this for y’all” line but by now we should be used to Z-Ro’s keeping it a little too real.

    These next 5 I’m still on the fence about

  41. Aminé – Caroline
    It’s hard to say exactly what’s holding me back on this one, I just have this feeling my future self will find my current self naive for thinking this was cool.  I should probably just enjoy it for the fun song it is, but I can’t shake that sinking feeling…
  42. 21 Savage – No Heart
    I’ve listened to Metro Savage or whatever that album is called  a few times now and I sorta get it I think but I just don’t yet feel like it achieves what so many people think it has.  I see what he’s going for, but it doesn’t feel to me like he actually got there.  Might just take a few more listens.
  43. Kevin Gates – Really, Really
    I like Kevin Gates a lot but I’m never actually in the mood to listen to his music.
  44. Gucci Mane – Dirty Lil’ Nigga
    Gucci is a legend and I’m glad he’s fit and out of jail and has shiny teeth and everything but every song I heard from him this year just didn’t quite hit home for me.  I like a lot of things about a lot of it, and this one’s probably my favorite, but it’s still a little lackluster compared to what I know he’s capable of.
  45. Brodinski’s collaborations (Dead People, Get Me Some More, Big Dawg, etc.)
    Feel kinda the same way about these as I do about “Caroline“.  I can’t deny the immediate physical response I get from these songs but something feels suspicious about it.  I feel like I’m almost being catered to too much, and it leaves me wondering about the hidden agenda there, or worse what better music might I be missing?

    Best from other people’s lists:

  46. The Team – Can I (RAP MUSIC HYSTERIA!)
    It’s embarassing but also beautiful that this video was shot 4 blocks from where I live but it took a blogger in Florida posting it for me to find out about it.
  47. Smino – Zoom (Noz)
    This dude is pushing into Zeroh territory as far as actually-crazy-sounding rap music and not “look how crazy I am” rap music.
  48. NBA Youngboy – 38 Baby (The Martorialist)
    I saw this video when it came out and loved it but then forgot who it was or where I saw it posted or anything about the dude’s name or where he’s from so it slipped through my fingers in the moment.  Luckily it popped up on a few of these lists this year so I could rediscover it and share.
  49. WNC Carlos, JMM Larry, & SOG Sherwood Flame – Cross Me (So Many Shrimp)
    Rap can do relentless like few other genres can (see “Messy Murder Scenes” above and “Gas Chamber” below) and this is an especially fun version of it.
  50. DB tha General – Gas Chamber (RAP MUSIC HYSTERIA!)
    Speaks for itself.
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HERE’S WHAT $40 GETS YOU AT PARK BLVD RECORDS

Today I made my first pilgrimage to Oakland’s newest and already greatest music store.  Here’s what I walked away with.


Kilo Ali – Organized Bass (LP)

Bootsy Collins – Ultra Wave (LP)

The Mossie – Break Bad (feat. E-40 & Levitti)

E-40 – Big Ballin’ With My Homies / Earl, That’s Yo Life (Test Pressing!)

DJ U-Neek – California Streets / Eastsider / Doctor Doctor

Funkadelic – Uncle Jam Wants You (LP)

Suga Free – You Know My Name

Jungle Brothers – Straight Out The Jungle (LP)

Eloise Carey – Channel of God’s Love (LP)

Paramahansa Yogananda – Chants and Prayers (LP)

Don’t worry there are still other good records (and tapes and CDs) there.

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THE EARL STEVENS COLLECTION

E-40 – Carlos Rossi

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OH, GREAT

I don’t know why, but today I inflicted the Rolling Stone “50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time” list on myself, in its entirety.  I know that “Greatest of All Time” lists are inherently dumb, and complaining about them is even dumber, but this particular one seems so especially dumb that I think it might not be excruciatingly dumb to criticize it, as long as I can keep it short and un-ranty.  So I’ll put aside as many personal biases that I can and try to actually play by the guidelines of a list like this.  These kinds of lists measure things like historical significance and cultural impact, and they worship “firsts”.  “Great” in the sense it’s used here isn’t an extreme form of “good”, it’s an attempt at objectivity about something inherently subjective by looking at factors like a song’s sales, chart positions, and the population’s general familiarity with it.  Framed in this way, it’s easy to see why lists like this are dumb, because those things aren’t what’s actually interesting about music.  But this list doesn’t even follow through on that flimsy objective.  It is unsurprisingly biased towards old guard “Golden Age” sensibilities, and yet still finds ways to overlook many obvious old school contenders as well.  Hardly any of my personal favorite songs are on that list, which is to be expected, but there are so many truly relevant-to-our-culture artists, songs, and movements that aren’t even touched on that I think it would be worthwhile to create a new list in response:

DRIVE SLOW’s Top 15 Artists Somehow Completely Ignored by Rolling Stone’s “50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time” List

1.  Too $hort

2.  Lil’ Wayne (or anyone from Cash Money)

3.  TI

4.  Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

5.  Gang Starr

6.  Goodie Mob

7.  Slick Rick

8.  Ludacris

9.  Gucci Mane

10.  Three-6 Mafia

11.  DJ Quik

12.  E-40

13.  Nate Dogg

14.  Ice T

15.  2 Live Crew

But nobody really reads Rolling Stone anymore anyway right?

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PUT HANDS ON A MAN, FUCK UNITY

At first glance, this video might seem like a pretty straightforward interpretation of this new E-40 track.  It’s a rap song about fighting, so you’ve got some shots of dudes fighting, and some shots of some dudes rapping.  Alright.  If you really pay attention though, there’s another element in here that adds some depth to this otherwise obvious interpretation.

E-40 – Catch a Fade (feat. Droop-E and Kendrick Lamar)

Mixed in with the shots of E-40, Droop-E (who is E-40’s son), and Kendrick Lamar (from Black Hippy, who apparently I can’t stop writing about lately) and some dudes catchin’ a fade (that means getting in a fight) are some other dudes who are doing something kinda in between.  Sometimes solo, sometimes in groups, there are a few dudes on here who aren’t quite putting hands on each other, but are expressing themselves physically, and somewhat competitively, in a different way: they’re dancing.  In this particular video, the dance mimics, pantomimes, and caricatures the motions of physical conflict, but any battle in this arena would be won with originality, creativity, and technique rather than brute force.  Now I’d be doing my good friends Ivan, Charles, and every other martial artist in history a great disservice if I didn’t point out that originality, creativity, and technique also certainly play a role in physical combat, as does self-expression, but there is still a brute force element of fighting that is removed in the kind of dancing in this video.  But isn’t it interesting that in describing this video I’ve found only one element that differs between fighting and dancing?  The dancers seem to be competing much in the same way the fighters are, or the rappers for that matter, and when you see all of these different expressive modes in quick succession, the boundaries between them begin to break down.

Rap and hip-hop have a long history of competitiveness being more central to the culture than most other art forms.  Rap battles, DJ battles, breakdance battles, these are all commonplace.  When is the last time you went to a jazz battle?  A sculpture battle?  An architecture battle?  Probably never, unless it was ironically billed as such.  Yes, these art forms have elements of competition and even hold formal contests, and there is such a thing as a “battle of the bands” in rock music, but I don’t think you could argue that the centrality of competition in hip-hop is paralleled in the art world, except for the martial arts of course.  Rap is probably somewhere in between painting and football in the spectrum of competition-based arts.  Or, you might say, between brawling and dancing.  Competition is found in all of these places because humans are competitive, and the cultures that give rise to this or that form of expression imbue it with the level of competition inherent to that culture, which is probably based on something like the level at which the people of that culture historically feel their survival is at risk.  Hip-hop grew out of a time and place where survival was far from easy or simple to accomplish, and clearly the tradition (and the culture that gives rise to it, to an extent) continues.

You don’t have to love violence to love rap.  I don’t think you have to love violence to love martial arts either.  But I think you do have to acknowledge that violence exists to have any kind of understanding of either of these art forms.  We compete all the time with each other.  We might call it different things, we might not even think of it as competition exactly, but we do it.  We argue, we make jokes about each other, we belittle other people or their ideas, we see somebody do something and we try to do it better, or try to make what that person did look worse, there are countless ways that competition plays a role in our lives, and I think that one thing rap can do is force us to be a little more up front about your competitive nature, and see that it can be fun, as well as fulfilling, and not just something to be avoided for fear of being defeated.  I believe that even a person who attempts to isolate him or herself completely from competition from others would still find themselves alone, trying to outdo themselves, mentally and physically, throughout their life.  It’s what we do, and recognizing that can really help hone it in positive directions,  and there are countless street rappers that credit rap with being exactly that influence for them: the thing without which they would have been reduced to a much more brutal form of competition in their probably all-too-brief lives.

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DO SOME ACROBATICS TILL IT LEAD TO YOUR ARREST

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 tripledisc 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

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NIGGA I JUST SPIT A WHOLE BACKWARDS VERSE, FUCK YOU

I remember the first time I saw the cover art to Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire’s first big mixtape, Lost In Translation.  I immediately knew that this was a dude that’s making his own rules, and probably breaking those ones too sometimes.  He refuses to have his name listed without the expletive (“Don’t forget the ‘Muthafuckin’ / Without that, it’s nothin“), he shoots music videos in his real house with his real friends doing what they really do, and he writes whole songs where he’s the main character in some kind of weird postmodern comic book/sci-fi/cartoon world.  Basically, I knew I had to listen up, and give this dude some room to do what he does.

I’ve been very happy with what I’ve heard so far, and just the other day I was biking around listening to his latest mixtape (which came out on Christmas; hilarious) and noticed some stuff about one particular song that slipped by my usually razor-sharp attention the first couple listens.

Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – Two 22’s b/w Twenty Two 2’s

I definitely caught the main reference of the song, which is to Jay-Z’s “22 Two’s” from his first solo album, but it wasn’t until I listened more closely to what eX was actually saying (duh) that I thought of this possible reference, or maybe just coincidental similarity.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Shimmy Shimmy Ya

Did you catch it?  I’ll give you a hint: I totally gave it away already in the title of this post.

See, after that weird break in the middle of “Two 22’s“, he comes back in and raps the whole first verse backwards while the beat plays backwards underneath, and when ODB comes back for his second verse, it’s actually just the reverse of his first verse also (with the beat playing normal).  The difference is that with eXquire, he actually raps the words normally but in reverse order, while ODB’s approach is to play the whole first verse backwards, so the words themselves are backwards too.  So yeah, it’s not the exact same thing, but I feel like there’s no way Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire isn’t influenced by Ol’ Dirty Bastard pretty heavily.  And even if it is just a coincidence that these two pretty similar rappers did the same thing on their songs, it’s pretty cool to notice how experimental and far out these dudes are getting in their music; that’s some conceptual shit that I feel like doesn’t really happen much in other popular music.  Correct me if I’m wrong.

As a side note, I was checkin’ out E-40’s Tumblr page the other day and I saw a link to a “west coast remix” of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” that featured E-40 and MC Eiht.  I thought it was some weird fan-made remix thing at first until I actually saw E-40 and MC Eiht come out in the video and start rapping.  That shit was actually official.  Wild.

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HOW CAN I KILL THIS ODOR AND PURCHASE ME A LINCOLN?

Oh! Some more Bay Area rap connections while I’m out here. Me and Amber went on a pretty long drive through the country to a town called San Rafael (pronounced ruh-FELL, I’m told) and one of the things we listened to on our journey was this juicy tune.

E-40 – Ballin Outta Control (feat. Levitti)

I bet my little 4th grade mind would have been about as blown by that song when it first came out as my 27 year old mind is by this track we listened to on the trip back, which I think must be meant as a tribute to his Bay Area big homie.

Lil’ B – Basedgods My Name

In between hearing these songs we came across a copy of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuffon vinyl in a Goodwill (no, I didn’t buy it) and some weird chocolate wafer candy whose motto was “Say Chair-Old For Finest Flavor“. This place is fuckin weird.

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DIDN’T COME UP OFF NO FUCKIN’ GIMMICKS, BITCH

That’s a pretty perfect way to describe Freddie Gibbs, if you ask me.  I drove up to T-Town today to go hang out with my dad for a few days around Christmas, and on the way I finally got around to listening to Gibbs’s newest mixtape Cold Day In Hell all the way through.  It was definitely worth it.  I’ve been a huge fan of his since Matt first turned me on to Midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik and The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs a couple years back, and I’m really happy to see that he’s got himself a solid record deal now and is getting more and more attention all the time.  And he’s not lost a bit of his integrity either, he’s stayed very true to his style this whole time, and I was happy to hear even more evidence of that on Cold Day in Hell.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to ramble, what I wanted to hit you all with was this little connection I noticed when I was listening to that mixtape.  The third song on there has a title that I was already familiar with from a much earlier tune: “187 Proof”.  Maybe that’s a common term that gets used all the time, and I’m just too ignorant to not know about more than two instances, but here’s what I’ve got to offer.

Freddie Gibbs – 187 Proof

Spice 1 – 187 Proof

I’m in love with that Spice 1 video, and I also really like the slightly different meaning these two dudes ascribe to the term “187 Proof”: Freddie is asserting that he is immune to being murdered (187 is a common police code for homicide), but Spice has a whole running play on words throughout the song using names of different boozy drinks as names for characters in the story he’s spinning, so the “187 proof” for him is an extension of that wordplay (referencing the way of measuring alcohol content of liquor in “proof”).  Pretty cool.

Here’s a little bonus too.  That first line of the Spice 1 “187 Proof” gets referenced in the intro to an E-40 song a few years later, pretty hilariously.  The only video I could find that included that intro is this one, which also includes the entire song before it.  So the part I’m talking about doesn’t come in until 1:49.  But you should probably just go ahead and listen to the whole thing, you can’t really listen to too much E-40 I don’t think.

E-40 – Da Bumble

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COULD I? WOULD I? SHOULD I BREAK EM?

After reading the Boots Riley interview I mentioned in this post that talked about E-40’s track “Practice Lookin’ Hard“, I tracked down the EP that song was on and found this other single called “Captain Save A Hoe” that is fuckin GREAT, and the video is priceless too.  Check it out.

E-40 – Captain Save-A-Hoe

Then a couple days later I was drivin over to my friend’s house and I was re-listening to the old UGK album Dirty Money because I hadn’t listened to it in a while, and I had a whole new appreciation for this song.  I think you’ll see why.

UGK – Choppin’ Blades

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