Xploziv Entertainment Presents: E-40 at the Crofoot Ballroom

SATURDAY APRIL 25, 2009
doors at 9pm
tickets: $25 in advance (buy tickets)

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He’s a rap innovator, a business-savvy tycoon and one of the music industry’s most consistent success stories. Yes, E-40 is all those things, but he’s probably best known as a slang creator, a man whose distinctive gift of gab gets lifted and used in the rhymes of Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and others. Now, the man with the terrific tongue returns with his most polished product to date, the imaginatively titled The Ball Street Journal.

“Anything that rolls off the tongue slick and is catchy, that’s where it’s at,” E-40 explains. “The Ball Street Journal just flew off the tongue and it’s memorable. This traces everything from the beginning to now. I’ve been through hard times and I’ve been through good times. It’s like a discography of how my life has been, because I touch down on a lot of different angles on the album. It covers all angles of the game.”

Given his status as a rap music and rap business pioneer, E-40 justifiably kicks off The Ball Street Journal with “Ambassador.” Here, over a ridiculously catchy Rick Rock beat complete with a choice Digable Planets sample, 40 Water gives a Cliff’s Notes version of his musical legacy. “What I’ve done over 20 years defies logic,” he says. “I’ve got a chance to see cats come and go. It’s not normal for somebody to be in the game this long and to still be able to keep up with the Joneses, or to do better than the Joneses. I’m OG, but I’m still current and cold. Let me tell those who don’t know how long I’ve been in the game, what I’ve established and see how I’ve paved the way for those that are rapping now.”

One reason E-40 has remained relevant in the tumultuous rap world is his supreme lyricism. On the reggae-flavored “Hustle,” he boasts that the “chain around my neck look like a playground swing” and that skill like his is “rare like white running backs.” Then, E-40 delivers a trio of Lil Jon-produced party starters, the hyper “Break Ya Ankles,” the hyphy-flavored “Sweatbox” and the sonically shifting “Turf Drop.”

E-40 then keeps it in the family with the innovative “Poor Man’s Hydraulics,” which was produced by his son Droop-E. Here, E-40 puts a new twist on detailing the hyphy scene thanks to his unorthodox, whisper-style delivery. “I wanted to do something where people wouldn’t know it was me rapping,” E-40 reveals. “I put the little whisper sound on it and spit some game on it. It’s a different kind of beat and a different style of rap.”

It’s also different for E-40 to rap toward the ladies in an endearing manner. He does it on The Ball Street Journal tracks “Wake It Up” and “Give Her The Keys.” The former is the lead single that features Akon, while the latter finds him teaming with T-Pain and recapturing the magic they created on E-40’s breakaway 2006 hit “U And Dat.” Both “Wake It Up” and “Give Her The Keys” salute women and encourage other men to do the same.

“If you have a female that’s got your back and is really there to care for you, you’ve got to really let her know that you care and that you recognize what she’s done for you,” E-40 says. “This could be a motivational song for females and males, because dudes will know that I’ve been real with it.”

But don’t think that E-40 has gone soft. Quite the contrary, as evidenced on the whistle-assisted “Pole,” an homage to strippers and the marvels they pull off while traversing a dance pole. E-40 also flexes his thematic range on “Earl,” one of The Ball Street Journal’s most insightful tracks. Here, the Vallejo, California icon encourages people to use their skills for positive, legal gain.

“I try to teach the youngsters because a lot of cats really have a lot of skills,” he says. “Cats always talk about sports and entertainment, but you can utilize your skills in other ways. A lot of soil cats -- hood cats -- they’re super smart and they could get 4.0s. But they want to be super hood and take another path. I want our youth to play sports, to be lawyers.”

E-40 remains on the thoughtful vibe with “No More Pain.” A nod to West Coast unity, the Jonathan “JR” Rotem-produced cut features guest raps from Snoop Dogg and The Game, each of whom outlines the importance and persevering despite trying times.

Fortunately for rap fans, E-40 has persevered throughout a career that stretches back to the 1980s. It was then that the Northern Califoolya legend was born. E-40 was among the first rappers to make a major dent independently. With his own Sick Wid It Records, E-40 established himself as a street-certified, business minded rapper. Early hit releases such as “Mr. Flamboyant,” Federal and The Mail Man spread like wildfire throughout the West Coast, Midwest and South.

All the while, E-40 was honing his remarkable ability to coin new slang through his music and introduce other talent (The Click, B-Legit, Suga-T, D-Shot). Through it all, E-40 emerged as one of rap’s great narrators. He was able to rap with equal aplomb whether assuming the perspective of a cold-hearted drug dealer, a loving husband, a vicious pimp or a chest-thumping battle rapper.

In 2003, after releasing the acclaimed Breakin News album, E-40 concluded his relationship with Jive Records, his recording home since 1994. As he collected his thoughts, he examined the opportunities before him. “I had a few options, but the one that felt right as I prayed on it, God just got on me and was like, ‘Call Lil Jon,’” E-40 says with a chuckle. “I’m not putting extras on it. I explained my situation to him. Jon told me he was going to call his people. He said they were with it and we were going to get it going. Great things came out of that.”

That’s an understatement, as E-40’s next album, 2006’s My Ghetto Report Card, introduced hyphy to a national audience thanks to the hit “Tell Me When To Go” and featured one of the biggest hits of E-40’s career with “U And Dat.”

Now, with The Ball Street Journal ready to go, E-40 is still sharper than a thumb tack. Listen up.

 

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