Left Side

October 10, 2005

We teased you when it was first rolling off the presses, but now that the new FADER is really and truly out and available throughout the world, we're going to start dropping online-only goodies to go along with the issue.

F33 features a massive article on Untold Hip-Hop Moments, and included with all the memories and unearthed archival photography are three new interviews with E-40, Ghostface and Bun-B. We're going to run the full, unedited transcripts from each of these interviews this week on thefader.com, starting off with some words from the slang thesaurus himself, Forty Water. Click more and read up.

What’s the story with the next solo album on BME?

It’s called My Ghetto Report Card, it’s looking like the top of the year. January.

Who did beats for Ghetto Report Card?

We got Lil Jon, we got Droop-E, the Pharmaceuticals, Rick Rock, E-A-Ski…I’m not done yet, it’s going to be so hard for me to pick and chose. I got over 50 songs.

Are you excited to be starting out on a new label?

Oh yeah! It’s a second wind for me. It’s a good position I’m in.

How did you link up with Lil Jon?

In the early 90s, Too $hort was like one of the first dudes who kinda discovered Lil Jon. So I always used to see him at concerts and we’d pow wow—a good dude, you know? We did some music together, I got in a couple of his videos. I did a song with him called “Rep Yo City” and we connected perfectly on it. It became one of those winners! It was on my album, Jive slept on it, didn’t want to shoot a video. Lil Jon said man, this song is too hot, every time we play it in the club motherfuckers go crazy. So Lil Jon kept the same song and put it on his last album, which went double platinum.

Do you ever see any parallels between the development of the bay sound and the crunk sound through the years?

The south and the west always been cool, man. We just some proper country niggas, you smell me? I got southern roots from Texas all the way to Louisiana, went to Grambling State back in the day, my whole career I’ve done songs with down south artists. I also have a down south artist who’s been on my label for five or six years.

Yeah, I wanted to ask you about Al Kapone—how did it feel seeing him in Hustle & Flow this year?

That was a big accomplishment for him, definitely. It was a good look, he did a good job and represented real well. I’m connected with the south man, there’s been just so many people—8Ball and MJG, I was on their album back in 92, 93. The Bout It Bout It soundtrack, Cash Money on Baller Blockin

UGK used the “Captain Save A Hoe” melody for “Choppin Blades.”

Yep, UGK—you gotta realize, when I signed with Lil Jon, people might have been surprised by the connection, but it makes sense. Inside the cover on UGK’s first album, they had a picture of my album The Mailman from 93. They had an actual poster in their basement where they used to have their studio, you smell what I’m saying? They had a poster of me. That connection has always been there, it goes way back. Greg Street, one of the best known DJs in the south, broke a couple records for us at the beginning of our career, he broke “Captain Save A Hoe” down south. Ricky Mean Green from Houston, he had our back to the fullest, he broke “Call Me On The Under” from my brother D-Shot, been there our whole career. DJ Jabberjaws up outta Shreveport. We go back with this, man, ain’t no new shit. I’m not boasting or nothing but a lot of people have a lot of love for me. I’m a legend, but I stay H and H, hungry and humble.

Does that put pressure on you in the studio, knowing you can’t let down all the people who have love for E-40?

Oh yeah. But with what I do, I try to have fun and not think too hard about it. Study long, study wrong, you dig? A hit will come to you.

Is that the advice you give younger artists like Turf and Droop-E?

I just try to tell cats—and this goes to everybody just getting their feet wet in this rap shit—stay hungry and humble. Also, people adapt to people that’s characters, such as myself. They like that. You can be serious, but at the end of the day, you can’t take me too serious, but you can’t take me for a joke either. At the same time, motherfuckers want you to be a people person. You know, I don’t turn down autographs. I try to sign as many autographs as I can. If I can’t sign your autograph that mean I must be really trying to get out the building, or it’s a sticky situation where shit don’t look right and it’s shady. I just tell cats, ‘And if you do blossom, you know, humble up, man. Don’t be all thinking you Hollywood.’ Cuz the shit can be here now, but it can go tomorrow.

Especially with the newer guys that are coming out, like Federation, you’re on all the new tracks that are hot. A lot of these guys, it’s their first couple of singles too.

Yeah, yeah, man. That’s what I’m saying. A lot of artists when they get signed to a major label, they just forget about the little people—and I’m not calling the Federation or none of the other Bay Area artists little people, I put everybody on the same pedestal. I got respect and love for everybody. You know, this is just an example. Cats get big, they get on a major label, and just act like they can’t do no songs with the people that’s trying to come up on the underground, you know what I’m sayin’? They get funny actin’ and try to charge you hella hella hella money. Like, sometimes they don’t return calls. It’s like, don’t have motherfuckers chasing you around trying to get you on the radio. If you told them that you’re a fan of theirs, don’t go shooting nobody to the left, acting like you can’t show no love back. If you tell the person you was gonna do the song with ‘em, you know, stand behind your word. And that’s just me, man. I ain’t never forgot my soil. And I ain’t never forgot where I’m from. And how badly I wanted to do a song with Too $hort. So I know how these youngsters is that want to do songs with people like me and other people that they grew up on and actually love and respect. I know how that it is because I wanted to do a song with Too $hort badly. And when I finally did it, it came right on time. The song that we did was called “Rapper’s Ball” and we had KC from Jodeci on there, and that song went ahead, that whole album went ahead and sold over 800,000 copies.

Is Too $hort gonna be on the new record?

I recorded a song with Too $hort already for my new record. Over a Lil Jon beat.

What’s it called?

It’s called “Yee.”

I know people a lot people always ask you about slang. What’s some new slang we can check for on the new record?


Like cheese?

Cheese. Money. Bread. Paper.

Any others? I don’t want you to feel like you gotta give ‘em away.

You gotta just keep talking to me, I’ll think of something.

Having been in the game for so long, and having a long recording career, how do you still stay excited about going into record and inspired to make more music?

Man, I just realize the streets is behind me. A dollar is hard to come by, know what I mean, and I value the dollar. And I feel that I do have an opportunity to do something, to generate gouda—you know, to generate money—and become successful at it, and get paid for something that I actually like to do. I mean, that’s heaven right there, man. I mean, you can’t get it no better than that. And that’s why I take it serious. I take it serious because I’m in a wonderful position. Me and a lot of other people, we just gotta really just go out there and get it, and treat this like it’s an occupation. I love rapping, man. It’s my thing. I grew up on rap. When I first the Sugarhill Gang when I was in the seventh grade, you know what I’m sayin’?

When you’re not working, what sort of music do you like? What sort of music do you listen to?

I listen to a radio station out here in the Bay Area called KBLX 102.9.

What do they play?

They play oldies from the ‘60’s all the up to the 2000’s. They play, like, ‘70’s, just things that my mama and my daddy, songs that they used to play around me when we was kids. You know, my mama when she used to come home—cuz they got divorced when I was eight years old, and Moms had to be pretty much my daddy. Even though my daddy was still around, and we would go over there and visit him. To this day I look back and I say at least my daddy, he was around. You know, he didn’t just skip state on us and never talk to us or nothing—we was close. I stayed with him a few days out of the month every so often, you know what I’m sayin’, that’s how we did. Moms raised four of us, man. But anyway, to make a long story short, she’d come home from working two or three jobs, you dig? And she’d throw on a Johnny “Guitar” Watson, or the Four Tops, or the Temptations. I’d listen to all of that, and it was subliminal in our head to this day. That’s why I train my kids the same way. When we in the vehicle, I don’t always have it on the hip-hop channel. You know, I don’t always listen to rap. I try to relax my head, really it heals you, man, to listen to that oldie but goodie, and it’s struggle music to me. It’s when we was going through the struggle of trying to survive in the ghetto and just going through the ghetto politics. You know, and I just remember it. And it makes me even stronger. Look where I’m at know, look where I come from, and I can never forget my soil, man. Never ever ever ever ever.

How does it feel seeing Droop E be such an in-demand producer with the newer Bay artists?

It’s a trip. [goes to other line] Let me tell you, I had a vision, man, when he was three years old I had him on my first solo album. The album was called Federal. E-40 Federal. When I used to take him Kinder-Care school—there’s a school out here called Kinder-Care like a nursery school, not nursery, I think he was in kindergarten at the time, he was three, so whatever you is when you’re three years old—he’d used to always be in the backseat in his little baby thing, and he used to always ask me questions. But anyway, just to put a long story short, when he was around two and a half, three years old, he would always ask me questions, back-to-back questions though, non-stop, which I wasn’t mad at, because that’s how kids learn. So I decided to do a skit at the beginning of one my songs called “Extra Manners” where I had him just asking me questions and everything. So, three years after that, I put him on another album called In A Major Way which went platinum, and I put him on this album on a song called “It’s All Bad,” and at that time he was six years old, and this time he rapped. And he was spitting. It was a positive song, just talking about life in general, the struggle, and why it’s got to be like this, and how come this is that. And then three years after that, I put him on an album called The Hall of Game, the one that sold 800,000 units. And I had him on that one, and he was nine at the time. And there was a song called “Growing Up” and I gave him a verse on there and he was spitting. He just been around.

So his mama put him in piano. He didn’t want to do it, but she put him in piano lessons—he took piano lessons for five years. So he ain’t the greatest pianist, but he knows the basics enough to know the keys and know the notes, and he used to always come into my studio to try and listen and talk to my engineers and sit around and observe. And then I had an older set-up and a keyboard so I used to let him use that in his room. So when he got fifteen years old, of age, I went ahead and bought him a studio for Christmas. On New Year’s Eve—he didn’t have no idea that I was gonna do this—he comes in his room and it was all set up. I had my partner Bosco come down from LA, and he was so kind enough to get the equipment and everything, and I cut him a check, and he brought it down and set it up for me and everything in his room. And so my son, he was in Vallejo, and when he got back from Vallejo, he went right into his room, and he was elated. He was elated to the extreme. Just fired up, you know. Like a sixteen year-old teenager getting a brand new car, you dig? Sixteen years old, you see? It was like that.

And he in there right now as we speak. Right now at this moment I hear him down the hall making music. I hear the bass and everything going through the walls. [laughs] He hot man, he really take it seriously. And that’s what he really actually liks to do. And he rap too, but he know—and I already explained to him that producers, to me, the way I see it—producers get paid. If you want to continue to rap, be a producer, get hot, do all the songs, get the publisher. And in the future, you get hot enough, a label gonna give you a record deal where you’ll have your own label, your production deal, publishing deal, and be able to put out your own albums through your own label, through a major.

You were one of the first guys to take that independent hustle. I guess that there were a lot of guys in the Bay that were doing it, but I can remember just seeing the Sick Wid It logo on stuff. What was it like? In the eighties there wasn’t really as much of a network kind of already set up for stuff to go down independently, you definitely had to kind of carve that out, right?

Yeah, you right. [goes to other line] You know what, man, it was hard back then. Because when we was getting down, I used to always see my uncle St. Charles, right, and when we was kids and he was like the neighborhood hero, we’d be out there on Ohio St. where my granddaddy used to live, you know, just outside playing and everything. And my uncle would pull up in his Cadillac, pop his trunk, and he used to have 45’s in his trunk. Like, a box of them. And I was like “Uncle, uncle, can I get one of those?” Cuz there wasn’t no CD’s or no cassettes available at the time. This was the ‘70’s, you know what I mean? I always used to say, ‘I want to cut a record. What it take for me to cut a record?’ And he used be like always saying, ‘Money. Money. It take money. Snaps.’ You know, and he would just do his hand like that. ‘Whenever you get the snaps, come to me and talk to me.

As we got older, I came back from Grambling State in the fall of ‘86/’87—I went there for a year, I didn’t complete it. I got home. Me and B-Legit, we wanted to get back to the Bay [laughs]. It was a wonderful time, but just to make a long story short, as soon as we got back we looked for studios, and we ran into a studio called Felton Pilate’s studio, a dude named Felton Pilate that used to be in a group called Con-Funk-Shun from Vallejo. And we would see Hammer go through there, you know, every once in a while we would bump heads with Hammer we was like we finally found us a studio. So we went ahead and cut a record, and that record, it was called “MVP”—it’s a rare piece of vinyl to find, not too many people has it because we only pressed up like 4,000 of them in the whole world—and at the time, there wasn’t no CD’s, cassettes wasn’t around. And we would try to get out there and let people hear us.

But the record, it was one of those records where, I gotta be honest, we didn’t put what we knew about the soil in it like we should have. We thought the only way to do this thing was radio. So we tried to do like some radio-type songs, you know what I mean? And it just wasn’t cutting it—it just wasn’t us. So we said, you know what, we know the streets, we done had all kinds of experiences in the streets, we done lived it, been in it, done it—we did it all. It’s like, we gonna change our name to the Click, you know what I mean, instead of “MVP” and so that’s when we came with “Let's Side” and “Mr. Flamboyant” and shit like that. And we’d sell tapes out the trunk of the car. We’d take our box, if a liquor store want thirty CD’s or cassettes at the time—matter of fact, then was just cassettes, even in the early ‘90’s it was cassettes, you feel me? If they wanted thirty cassettes we would go ahead and make that unfold. We would give ‘em thirty cassettes, I’d have a consignment sheet, we’d sign the consignment sheet. I’d come back in a few days or when they called me and let me know, ‘We out. We need some more CD’s.’ You know, I would come collect the money and drop ‘em off some more CD’s. This is at liquor stores, this is at barbershops, this is everywhere. This is at rim and tire shops, you know what I mean? And that’s what we did. And then we finally hooked up with a distributor. Which was Music People and City Hall Records back then, and first they was hesitant. Music People was right on deck, but they was kind of hesitant too. City Hall, they said my cousin B-Legit sound like he readin’. Then they said my voice was too squeaky and I rapped too fast, you feel me?

So, at the end of the day, because we started putting down our street campaign, people started really asking. Cuz we tried to give City Hall, like 500 cassettes, they could sell it—we just wanted them to put it in the stores. Next thing you know, we head to everywhere, man, I mean: Seattle, LA, swap meets, all up the coast, Sacramento, the whole West Coast. We sent cassettes out there to my cousins out there in Louisiana and Texas. Next thing you know, man, City Hall started getting calls from everywhere. Within the next four months, they start getting calls. So he called us, Walter was like, ‘St. Charles’—my uncle St. Charles was our manager and, you know, showing us the rules and regulations of this rap shit, you know what I mean, this music game—he say, ‘Man, hey, you still got any more of those Click tapes?’ [laughs] You know what I’m sayin’? Man, people was calling me like crazy. Next thing you know, man, that stuff started getting in stores, man, we made them people so much money. We made money too, but it was just a wonderful thing, man. Our careers just started taking off, man.

It’s great to get some of the background on that.

We started selling hundreds of thousands of units, man, without no record deal. All the way up to ’94, man, that’s when we signed with Jive. Cuz we needed a bigger machine, a bigger engine behind us. And we just felt that Jive was the label, and it was—it was the label for us at the time, it served its purpose. You know, it got kind of wishy-washy at the end, but it served its purpose at the beginning of what we was trying to do. We went ahead and signed with them in 1994. And you know, the reason we signed with them was because they had my hero on there, Too $hort, you know what I mean? Spice-1 was on there, my other hero KRS-One, you had UGK. All of us man, we was not playing. It was the streets to me, it was exactly what we needed for our outlet to get our shit out there. So that’s how the whole thing went, man.

You know, this was way before SoundScan was even really cracking. We owned Billboard and everything, man. We owned this Billboard, we didn’t manipulate nothing. We didn’t manipulate no positions on the Billboard, we didn’t do none of that, we was really actually. I think my album, for an independent label to be #4—I think it was #4 or #3—it came in at #4 on the top 200 R&B in the Billboard, that was The Mailman. And this was without no major label or nothing, this was just straight distribution. #4? To be in the top ten? That was unheard of. And we did all that, man. We really actually sold tapes out the back of the car. And we had some cold spit. And it was all by word of mouth, and just street credibility, and people fucking with the music because they knew we was talking about shit that they go through, and we still do to this day. If you talk about shit that everybody else is going through, they gonna feel it, like, ‘Oh, I feel the man on that, man. I been through that shit. I’m going through it now. Woo-woo-woo.’ If you speak the real, motherfuckers gonna fuck with you, you feel me? They gonna fuck with you. And that’s what happened. They start snatching up that music, man. And I’m just so blessed to still be around and be able to do what I love and still sell records. Some people at my age can’t even give a record away, you know what I mean?

I’m real excited to hear the new one.

Oh man, it ain’t playing bro. I just did one with Paul Wall last night.

Who did the beat for that one?

My soon Droop E. It’s right here. [plays it, laughs] It’s cold.

Posted: October 10, 2005
Left Side