Happy Birthday, E-40! Here's A Beginner's Guide to the Bay Legend
Today, Bay Area hip-hop legend E-40 turns 45-years-old. One of the most prolific, consistent and innovative MCs to ever touch a mic, his two decades of regularly satisfying output is without peer. Whether selling tapes out of his trunk to a degree that puts him alongside Master P and frequent collaborator Too $hort in the hustler hall of fame, or sharing the mic with everyone from Ol Dirty Bastard and Busta Rhymes to 2Pac and Murs, to using his resources to put on several generations of up-and-coming west coast artists, E-40 represents everything a veteran hip-hop artist can and should be. That said, while he's a platinum artist with one of rap's loyalist followings, to many he's still an acquired taste. For those still new to 40 Water, we've assembled a beginner's guide to E-40.
Gamerscore Blog via Wikimedia Commons E-40
E-40 - "Why They Don't Fuck With Us" 2002
Probably the best place to start with E-40 is the opening track from his 2002 album Grit and Grind, "Why They Don't Fuck With Us." While some commend and attribute E-40's longevity to changing with the times, that's not exactly accurate as his work's been so often ahead of his time, when mainstream rap superstars finally catch-on to the hottest trends, 40's usually already been there. Despite this, he's often left off most "Top Rapper" lists. Here, 40 makes his case for his own legacy, and it's hard to dispute.
E-40 - "Practice Lookin' Hard" 1993
While 40 first made waves nationwide as part of The Click, which featured fellow west coast favorite B-Legit, his first video that saw his cult following spread nationwide was "Practice Lookin' Hard." 40 carved out such a unique lane for himself early on with his inimitable but infectious style that all corners of the hip-hop map had to give him props. Sitting between 2Pac and Boots Riley of The Coup (whose voice is sampled on the hook) is probably the strongest visual representation of the realm in hip-hop that 40 occupies.