Jesse Grant, WireImage
For his last four releases, 40 has opted to drop two albums at once: 'Revenue Retrievin: Overtime' and 'Revenue Retrievin: Graveyard Shift' were released on March 29. True to form, on these two albums, the Vallejo, Calif. native provided a platform not just for his own work to shine, but to introduce his fans to a new breed of Bay Area MCs.
After hopping around to different labels over the past few years, 40's latest effort finds him keeping it in the family, releasing the projects on his oldest son Droop-E's record label, dubbed Heavy on the Grind. A move like this marks a new chapter in his career and showcases his commitment to keeping family and music as his main objective.
We caught up with the Bay Area ambassador who let us in on a bit more than just his new music. From why some DJs work against him to what surprising skill Nate Dogg showcased in the studio, E-40 isn't holding back -- even when it comes to the "one thing" about Tupac everyone should know.
Why did you want to release two albums instead of one?
If it ain't broke don't fix it. You can expect a variety of bangers with these albums and different subject matters that a lot of rappers don't do. [I have] a lot of songs that the hood relates to. You have to be from it to know what I'm talking about. My music don't sound like nobody else's, I got my own thing. I'm in my own lane. I just call it how I see it and tell it like it is.
I got a song called 'F--- Em,' it's talking about the industry, not a particular person just what it is. Like b---- s---. Like how DJs, just 'cause I'm from the West Coast they'll set trip, like, "He West Coast I ain't playing him." Not even being opened minded, you know what I mean? It's talking about all that.
You're signed to your son Droop-E's record label, Heavy on the Grind. What is it like working for your son?
It's good. That's my partner and my son. We got that father and son chemistry. He produced 14 songs between the two albums. I'm my own boss, I'm independent, I'm getting 80 percent of my royalties and the label gets 20 percent. As opposed to an artist getting 13 or 14 percent and rest goes to the label. With me, I don't have to sell a million records to make the money that an artist that sells a million records makes. On 100,000 records I will make the same amount as that artist that went platinum. I'll probably make more. People don't know. I know this business; I'm an independent king.
Why did you opt out of a major label deal and go back independent?
I'm not on a major anymore because I don't need them anymore. I can do what a major label can do but better, and I'm already famous!
With the music industry being as fickle as it is, as you said, how have you maintained such a positive reputation?
Just by keeping it real, I still stay in contact with people in the industry, and friends of mine. Just because a person is hot at one time and then you fall off but you're still maintaining and you're still respected, I still talk to these people. You never know, that person that lost their job but a year or two later you might end up [working for them]. You never know who you're going to bump into in the future so I'm one of those dudes just because you're not hot I'mma still embrace you. I'm just good people like that.
When you're not working hard, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I'm just a laid back OG, playin' dominoes type of dude with the family. I'm just an overall family guy. I like to do family activities. We have a big family. Growing up, we really didn't have to have too many friends because all our cousins were are friends.
Being in the game so long what would you say is the current climate of Bay Area music?
We have a lot of stylish new generation rappers that are really respectable then we have a lot of disrespectful new generation artists that'll say anything behind their computers. It's a lot of little youngsters that want to make it happen. They got a vision and they unite with people and they want to learn from those who have already made it. Everybody wants this No. 1 position, not me personally because I am the No. 1 position, but we've got to get everyone to play their position in the Bay. Everybody wants to be the Iron Chef, don't nobody wanna work in the pantry, don't nobody want to wash the dishes [laughs].
You've done a lot of collaborations in your career, one of them being with Nate Dogg, who just recently passed. What is one of your fondest memories of him?
Nate Dogg was so much of a talent. Anybody can do a hook and you can be like, "That's jamming," but Nate Dogg will get on the hook and it'll be like, "Man, that's super jamming!" That's one thing about Nate Dogg, he was a writer and he could sing. Nate Dogg was a true talent, [he will be] truly missed.
I remember one of the good times, he was over my house and we got in the vocal booth and we did this song called 'Sinister Mob' [off my album 'Loyalty and Betrayal'], had the beat he went in there then he just started rapping! It was bad too! I'm like, "What the hell?! You rap?" He didn't want to put it on there and I said, "You better keep this s--- on here." He was rapping in his own little way though. It was a cold little style.
R.I.P. Nate Dogg. We know he's in a beautiful spot right now, away from this crazy world.
One of the people that you looked up to was Tupac. What was it like to work with him and what are your thoughts on the film they are making about his life?
I hope they represent him right. I'm sure they were gonna come with a film. I hope they don't fabricate it; do it how Pac would've wanted them to do it. I got work ethic from him. That boy was impeccable with that pen, it took me 15 minutes to write a song. He used to a good eight, nine songs a day and be finished, without having to go in there and fix it up. He stayed working. One thing about it, if he liked you, he loved you, but if he hated you, f--- you [laughs].
That's why I'm taking a page out of his book. When he did 'All Eyez on Me,' that was a double CD. He came back and got me, Rappin Forte, Dru Down, The Click, Richie Rich. He went and got all of us. And got producers from the Bay and so I'm just doing what he's doing. Hopefully these youngsters will remember me. I'm tryna show unity out here. He was one of those dudes that stayed networking. Everybody loves Pac, he had so much music in the archive and in the vaults that it lasted so long his music is just now fading away as far as being current. For a good solid 12 years that man's music was everywhere after he was dead. That's why he's the greatest ever.
Watch E-40's 'Nah, Nah ...' feat. Nate Dogg