Q+A: E-40 Continues to Be Flamboyant

November 03, 2008

We grew up with E-40, became "little adults" with E-40, and as far as we can tell, we will stay with E-40 until we are old and craggly and our tatas look like deflated beach balls and our voices sound like James Earl Jones after a 2-pack night of smoking. So just a few weeks before he releases his eleventh proper album, Ball Street Journal (out 11/25), we got up with our life partner and asked him about voting, his new dreads (as seen in the above video), his new album and a whip trick much less dangerous than ghostriding. Interview after the jump.

So, you’re about to release The Ball Street Journal. Why did you title it that?
The Ball Street Journal. One thing about me and my album titles you know, from Down and Dirty, to Money and Musclin’, to The Harlem Game to My Ghetto Report Card which was two years ago and it was only right to come with The Ball Street Journal.

You’ve got a way with words.

You do know that.

Yes I do. It’s perfect timing. Do you have any thoughts on what’s happening to the economy and the world? Election day is coming…

I do wanna say something, definitely. The way the world is right now, the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, it’s either feast or famine. It’s like you either eatin’ or you not right now. And I ain’t never voted in my life, ever, and I even went down there to register to vote, and I’m going to vote on November 4. I’ll probably post up some footage of me voting on my Myspace page. I encourage everyone to vote. I don’t know who everybody votin’ for, but I’ll tell you who I’m voting for, I’m voting for Obama. I’m voting for Obama all day.

Yessir, yessir. With you on that. Why didn’t you vote before?

I shoulda voted before, but I thought I couldn’t vote ‘cause I was always on the road. I never wanted Bush in there from the gate, but then when he got elected the second time, I was like, Oh man this is messed up. I really think McCain is another Bush. I don’t believe that he’s a bad guy, but I think he playing dirty pool. He trying to bring out everything he can do, to uh, to make people think otherwise about Obama. And I just feel like, war is not the answer to me, we gotta defend ourselves, but when he got to talkin’, he was saying we could be over there for another 100 years. What they spending over there, $10 billion a month? On the war? Why? To me, he got the same mentality as Bush. It ain’t no black and white thing with me. If Hillary had beat Obama, I’d be going with Hillary. I feel like Obama is the right person. It’s time for a change, it can’t get no worse.

No it cannot, lets hope it doesn’t. So what have you been up to for the past couple years? Were you just growin dreads?

That was funny with the dreadlock situation. I’m gonna make a long story short. Of course you know dreadlocks were here since the beginning of time. But out here in the Bay you know they be rockin the dreads. And I’m one of them rappers where you can’t take me too seriously but you can’t take me for a joke either. You know I’ve got memorable metaphorical punchlines that I say. So on “Tell Me When to Go” when I said [the line Jesus Christ had dreads, so shake em/I ain’t got none but I’m plannin on growin some], I wasn’t really tripping on really growing no dreads. I had a paper cut. But fans was like, You really gonna grow ‘em? So one day I was in LA and I was like, I’m gonna go get some twisties real quick, just so I’ll know how this’ll look if I ever actually do it. I was just doing it to just do it. Most people woulda gave up, they wouldn’ta followed all the way through, but now I’m down to my shoulders. It was an assignment for me to do this. It showed me that anything I put my mind to I can do.

You’re a man of your word. You said you were gonna do it, and you did it.

That’s right, I did it!

Tell me about “Poor Man’s Hydraulics” ‘cuz we just put that video up on our site and it’s crazy, it’s sick.

[laughs] “Poor Man’s Hydraulics.” It goes back to the early ‘80s, you know, punching on the gas, and then hitting the brake. It’s really just ghetto games. It’s an attention grabber, like, Oh look at him he’s swangin ‘em. We call it dippin’, yokin’, mashin’, gas brake dippin’. But I thought, lemme call it the “Poor Man Hydraulics,” because when you punching on that gas and hitting that brake, it seems like you got hydraulics manually, instead of hitting switches and whatnot.

My son Droop-E produced that track. Basically I walking down the hall right when we was making “Poor Man’s Hydraulics,” and something told me to stop in his room and say “Let’s make a beat.” He pulled out some sounds and came with this sick bottom. On the computer it’s hard to hear it, but once you put it in the car with some woofers, it’s gonna sound like Chewbacca in the trunk.

Were those dancers in “Poor Man’s Hydraulics” the same ones from “Tell Me When to Go”?

We did that video in Vallejo, and three of the dancers was from my last album. They brought a few of their folks from Oakland, and they get down too. That was just Bay Area cats getting down. We were there for like an hour and a half before the po-po came to shut us down.

Really? Why?

It became a sideshow. If we had been out there to get permits and all that, they wouldn’t have even let us shoot it. So we did it guerilla style. We from a small city, but we a lot of players and gangstas, and intelligent hoodlums, we got a lot of talented people out there. So we was just like, Let’s hurry up and do this, cause we know the po-po gon’ shut us down. There was hella people out there.

That’s ill, and you got kinda like that Keak flow, a little bit.

Yeah, the little whisper. I just wanted to do a little something different. That’s me though, just trying to do some crazy different stuff. I ain’t scared to roll the dice, a lot of other cats might be scared. I’ve been taking chances on my career my whole life. To those that never had an E-40 album, I’m not just a radio guy, my albums have concepts, I got something on there for everybody. Also, read up on my discography, be open minded, ‘cuz I’m not gonna sound like your favorite rapper. I’m in my own lane. At the end of the day, you gon’ say, You know what? That boy 40, one thing about him, he had his own thing, he was unique, he was a trendsetter, and he poked out like nipples.

Also, you have like 35 records, so somebody’s gotta find something they like.

That’s real talk, that’s real.

Posted: November 03, 2008
Q+A: E-40 Continues to Be Flamboyant