To the uneducated cynic, the Golden State Warriors introduced their The Town insignia as a parting gift to the Oakland faithful they would soon be leaving for “greener” pastures. For as long as the Warriors have been an NBA dynasty-in-the-making, prominent fans such as E-40 have been forced to endure talks of a relocation bid to San Francisco.
While such plans have regrettably come to fruition, the Warriors’ alternate kit does bear the fruit of an oak tree on its crest, representing the godsend that is Oakland’s grassroots culture – but as E-40 has chosen to define it, and he is after all GSW’s most decorated fan, The Town is at its best, when the sum of its parts are working in a neighborly capacity. That includes Vallejo, California, where E-40 first established “The Click” on a smelting patch in his own backyard.
From Vallejo to the rest of the World, E-40 has made it his mission to share the spoils with his pupils Nef The Pharaoh and OMB Peezy, his old cronies, as illustrated by last year’s Connected and Respected LP with B-Legit, but also in his acknowledgment of Mac Dre, whose accomplishments ran parallel with his own, despite the marked differences in execution and “proverbiage.”
To mark the occasion of E-40’s latest barnstorming project, Practice Makes Paper, the man himself was kind enough to delve into his past, in an effort to clear up a few misconceptions. Practice Makes Paper is listed as a double LP with contributions from the likes of Scarface, Sada Baby, Tee Grizzley, Boosie Badazz, Fabolous, and more – or as he put it, “the artists he was buzzing to work with.”
I hope you enjoy the following as much as I did.
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HNHH: First of all, thank you for taking the time. You’ve been wading through New York traffic, haven’t you?
E-40: Yeah. I’m moving around but this New York traffic is insane.
It’s not like that around your way?
We got traffic in The Bay but not like New York. It’s insane. So what’s the latest and the greatest? What’s cooking?
I’m good, thank you. This is a big week. You’re in New York. This is album twenty-six and counting.
Nah, this is more than album twenty-six.
More than twenty-six?
I stand corrected.
I think it’s album twenty-eight but it depends what you call a collab and what you call a solo, whether it’s an EP or an album.
I know some artists approach “the mixtape” with a different mindset, but I think a project is a project. I’ve lost count. The debut record, as it were, is no longer made to be an opening statement, from the artist to his and her intended audience.
What is a mixtape?
I believe a mixtape is what the artist makes of it. Sometimes an artist will put out a mixtape to circumvent a contractual agreement, perhaps? Or rather, the experimental artist who might opt for a mixtape before reverting back to “album mode,” playing for keeps.
That’s true. A lot of times, a mixtape is harder to make than an official tape. On a mixtape, you’re experimenting. You’re putting on the songs that you think are too left for the album. You take it and put it on a mixtape and then the mixtape becomes a phenomenon. When you’re doing an album, you want to be as creative as you can but in a way that’s not going outside of your jurisdiction or your envelope. I’m in the studio thinking “let me do something different,” and sometimes those songs don’t make the album, so you put it on the mixtape and it’ll wind up everyone’s favorite song. Personally, I have yet to do a mixtape but I tell people that maybe one day I will. A mixtape is pretty much an album nowadays.
Your new album, Practice Makes Paper, is the second act of your Definition trilogy, is it not?
I wouldn’t say a trilogy. It can be labeled as such if you add up all the songs. Nowadays, four or five songs is considered an album. There’s no such thing as an EP anymore.
I think “project” is the go-to nomenclature in Hip-Hop nowadays.
I’m talking about as far as billboard goes. I think that four songs or better is considered an album I believe. I’m not for sure. I know a lot but I don’t know everything. Practice Makes Paper is a double album. There are twenty-six songs. It’s a double album by way of CD’s I pressed. You can only have a certain amount on each CD so I put thirteen on one CD and thirteen on the other. On iTunes, you can put fifty songs on your thing or however many you want.
Personally, I believe the short form allows artists to be more active, would you say?
First of all, your budget is lower. People only listen to the first four or five songs, ya feel me? Streams mean a lot and you stream more when you consistently listen. That’s why people minimize that. You could have a fanbase tripping by putting out a single or two every year or have a fanbase that sees you drop an album every year with hella slaps on it and is well-produced, then, that fanbase will stick with you forever.
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Let me ask you some questions. “Jesus Christ had dreads, so shake them” was so, so impactful. Can we touch on the significance of that line, for just a moment?
It was difficult and I was speaking truthfully. If you read the Bible, his hair was like wool. It was tough, African hair bro. Sometimes they got different kinds of dreads, sometimes they let them do what they do and they come out to be OG dreads. That was a difficult saying. “Jesus had dreads. I ain’t got none but I’m planning on growing them,” I wasn’t really planning on growing them. I just did it for the interview and people started asking “Are you really going to grow dreads?”
People are way too literal.
To this day, people think I didn’t do it. I had them for three years so when I show them they say “Okay, he really had them. He wasn’t lying.” I’m not one to be controversial before my album comes out. That’s not my forte. That’s not how I get down.
This was before you came out with Grit & Grind, right?
You always found neat ways to sneak your message into the song without coming across heavy-handed. That’s always been my read on the situation.
That line, “Jesus Christ had dreads so shake them,” could effectively change someone’s worldview, and yet, you’re not forcing the issue of faith, etc.
Yeah, I just wanted to say “so shake em.” That was one of those lines. It’s all about being different. You don’t have to be like everybody else because everybody sound alike. Everybody got the same two flows. I like to poke out like nipples and stick out like a turd in a punch bowl.
I’m definitely gonna have to quote you on that. There’s this misconception that you and Mac Dre did not get along. How did everybody get it so wrong?
When things are untruthful, I don’t even entertain it. We both came up in the eighties. I came out in ‘88, he came out in ‘89. He had a song called “Too Hard For The Radio,” and I had a song called “The Shit That Will Fuck With Your Brain” and “Mr. Flamboyant.” I was older than Mac Dre. He knew my brother D Shot. My cousin made a song about Mac Dre. I didn’t tell him to do it, he just did it. I ended up getting into it because I had my cousins back. I didn’t even entertain it like that. I always felt we were both dope.
We both were dope. We both had our own thing. That’s how that all happened. When Dre went to jail around ‘93 I believe, I continued my career. There were a couple of times on the phone where I would talk to Dre. It was nothing but love. We were past that. From 1993 all the way to to this day, nobody can resurface a song where Mac Dre was saying “Fuck 40.”
I don’t think people see it any other way.
I’m going to tell you some real shit that a lot of people don’t know. My cousin Turf Talk…
Who’s on “Gasoline” right?
He’s on “Gasoline” too. He was on “It’s a Slumper.” That was his song. They went crazy off that song. “Shake your dreads,” all that. Basically, I’m in Atlanta, working on my album My Ghetto Report Card so Lil Jon came up with the “dum diddy-dum diddy-diddy-dum-dum,” you know, inspired by Run DMC. Lil Jon was playing around on the MPC when he came with that, then I put the drumbeat to it and was like “oh shit!”
We’re talking “Tell Me When To Go,” right?
Yeah. I did a verse and Keak Da Sneak did a verse. So Lil Jon was like “Man, this shit is jamming. It’s a hit. You got it.” I didn’t mention anything about any of that shit until Jon said “You gotta say what’s going on. Where you at in the Bay.” It just so happens that a lot of the things going on were things that Dre was saying. He was in the thick of it.The hyphy movement was his movement. He’s the face of it. Everybody knows it.