As one of hip-hop’s most influential members, The Bay’s E-40 not only has received hit after hit, but also responsible for single handedly changing the way that America talks today. His “slanguage” backed by a machine gun flow is one of the most recognizable voices in hip-hop. Whether solo or with his group “The Click”, E-40 brings hip-hop as a whole up a notch. Check out this exclusive interview with WHO?MAG as he tells us “it’s all gravity”.
Interview by Will Hernandez

WHO?MAG: What have you been up to lately?
E-40: I was on Jive records from 1994 until now. So I just wanted to push reset and readjust to a whole another thing. I signed to BME/Warner Lil’ Jon’s label. In between, that I purchased a franchise and got involved in the restaurant business. Me and my partner Chester McGlockton, who is a former proballer with the Oakland Raiders, we went ahead and purchased the rights to 10 Fat Burgers out here in N. California. We opened up the first one in July and the second one in late April. We’re just taking baby steps with it and it’s looking good. I’ve been working on my album Ghetto Report Card which will be out March 14TH. Another thing in between, after I left Jive, I also put together a distribution deal with Navarre. That’s my brother’s label 30/30 records. He sends his artists through my label. We got Turf Talk, who I feel is one of the dopest rappers in the game if not, you dig? We got The Mosse, Al Capone, and Knuck. It’s all family. We got D Shot, The Click, B Legit you smell me?

WHO?MAG: How did you get with Lil’ Jon?
E-40: I was introduced to Lil’ Jon back in 1998 through OG Too $hort. I don’t if a lot of people know it or not, but Too $hort was one of the first dudes that gave [Lil] Jon a chance. He was actually signed to Too $hort’s label at one time. We would see each other in concerts and stay close. When my deal was up, [Lil] Jon was on top of the world right now. He’s a major fixture in the business and he got a deal with Warner and my deal was up with Jive. I was like “we should do business” and he said “I’m going to talk to my people”. Next thing you know both of our lawyers were on the phone putting it together and I signed with BME/Warner. Also I didn’t jump on no bandwagon or nothing. I’m probably one of the most West Coast/South cats you ever want to meet. We did it all from South/West Riders back in the days the double CD. We had on there 3 6 Mafia, Master P, Mystikal, Twista, Al Capone, etc. I’ve been in the game for a while with the South. I went to school at Gramma State University. You can catch me on 2 or 3 Cash Money albums. You can catch me on Master P’s album. We’ve been messing with the South since the early 90’s. Our first music broke in the South. Greg Street in Dallas broke Captain Save A Hoe.

WHO?MAG: Why didn’t you renew your deal with Jive?
E-40: Actually the deal was up after my 7th album. I went ahead and did a couple of more years with them. I’m not going to lie, Jive was a good label. I can’t talk bad. The pop department started selling a lot of units and they couldn’t put a 100% into the rap dept. They could’ve, but you got these people selling 20 million records, you know Brittany Spears, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys. You kinda get sidetracked you know what I mean? It was time for me to move on. I kept renewing a couple of more years because I was saying “they’re going to come around on this. Right now they’re going through this. Then they’ll pay attention to the rap department” and they still ain’t paid attention to the rap department and I’ve been gone for a couple of years now. (laughs)

WHO?MAG: Jive had a good hip hop roster: KRS ONE, Too $hort, yourself, Spice 1.
E-40: Ah man. We was the shit! That’s what I’m saying. It was the right label to be on. After a few years it went from super street to super pop.

WHO?MAG: How is it working with Lil Jon?
E-40: It’s a wonderful thing. He don’t mind me voicing my opinion. He’s real creative. When you get 2 creative cats in the studio it makes magic. It’s a 100%; it’s all good.

WHO?MAG: Do you approach the beats Lil Jon gives you the same way would with the Mob sound of the Bay area?
E-40: We hyphy like my first single “Tell Me When To Go.” A lot of cats don’t know Lil’ Jon was the one that produced that and that’s a hyphy track. The tracks that he did, which were like 8, you wouldn’t even know that he did them because he’s so much of a universal producer. He just don’t do crunk music. He does real music. You dig?

WHO?MAG: I’ve been reading a lot on the internet and magazines about the whole Hyphy sound in the Bay area now. Can you explain what it is?
E-40: The hyphy movement is a way of life. It’s a culture out here in the Bay area. It’s a dance with several different phases of the way you can do the dance. Hyphy is another was of crunk or getting buck. Doing the hyphy train with old school muscle cars, vans, campers and new school whips. It’s a certain sound that producers like Ric Roc, E-A-Ski, Droopy, and a whole lot of young producers do. It’s a way of life man.

WHO?MAG: What do you think of B Legit’s album The Block Movement?
E-40: The Block Movement is blacking. He’s on my album. On a song called Gooda. Gooda means cheese.

WHO?MAG: Who else is on your album besides him?
E-40: Mike Jones, Lil Jon, Bojagane, Pep Love, Bun B, Juelz Santana, T Pain, Turf Talk, you know my organization: Keak Da Sneak, Al Capone, everybody.

WHO?MAG: Is Lil Jon doing the entire production on the album?
E-40: Lil Jon did 8 songs, Ric Roc did six, my son Droopy of The Pharmaceuticals did 1, Boscoe, and CJ Tone.

WHO?MAG: What is your involvement with 30/30 records?
E-40: My brother Young Mugzi started a label called 30/30 records. He’s a member of The Mossi. Turf Talk rapped to me when he was like 15. Turf Talk is from Oea California which is the Bay area and LA mixed together. He lived half his life in LA and half in the Bay. He was on a couple of Mac Shawn’s compilations but Mac Shawn went to jail, so Mugzi picked him up and game unfolded. 30/30 is doing they thing they got DB’z, The Mossi, etc and drop a couple of compilations and DVDs through our distribution deal with Navarre.

WHO?MAG: You have good relationship with Jay Tee of N2Deep.
E-40: Jay Tee and N2Deep were the first gold record I ever had in my possession was on the N2Deep album. I did that song called V-town. That’s how much that gold record meant to me. I must hounded Johnny Z, who was the executive producer of N2Deep. I hounded him so tuff about that gold record boy and he finally got it to me. That meant the world and I love them for that.

WHO?MAG: I remember watching MTV a couple of years ago and they were interviewing you. You said you were going to put out a slang dictionary. Did it ever come out?
E-40: Actually the dictionary never came out. It was supposed to come out on Warner books. I was still contemplating if I still want to put it out there and give up game, because I feel my lingo has been jacked anyway and stolen. Let me let the world know who the king of slang is. It’s going to come out through Warner books.

WHO?MAG: How did you get that slang?
E-40: I don’t make up everything, but 55% of the shit I say I made up. The rest of it from the Bay, just keeping my ear to the street as I always have. Even if I didn’t rap, I was always a wordsmith and always good with my mouthpiece. Always about lingo and slang words. Ever since I was a little moustache, I was sharp in school like that. I used long words and was nifty with my mouthpiece.

WHO?MAG: How did Sick Wid It start?
E-40: Me and my brother D Shot, my cousin B Legit, and Suga T always had a knack for music. We hooked up with my uncle St. Charles who had experience in the music game. He had records out in the 70’s, so he knew the independent hustle. Not from a rap point of view, but he did from a Soul point of view. We all learned together, but he taught how to get out there and hand out tapes to the right people with music. We put out EP’s and then we put out the Down & Dirty album. That took the cake.