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Evan Nabavian‘s fetti is never on the injured list.
In 2010, E-40 released Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift and Night Shift on the same day. Releasing two albums (not a double album) on the same day is a gimmick familiar to those of us who remember Nelly’s Sweat and Suit from six years prior. But E-40 came back in 2011 with Overtime Shift and Graveyard Shift, again on the same day. In 2012, he released three more albums. Three more followed in 2013. From 2010 to 2016, the E-40 corpus swelled by 14 albums and one EP — some 268 tracks, not counting features.
Most rappers who average 45 songs a year are profligate mixtape rappers; they’re young men flooding the market in search of an audience. E-40 is 51 and his output is strictly retail releases. He described his strategy to NPR in 2012:
I’m a real businessman. Give my fanbase what they want — and that’s all different eras of rap. So I’ve got songs on there that sound like it’s fresh from 1992. Because I got listeners out there still that want to hear that kind of stuff. Then I got a fanbase out here that want to hear nothing but function music. I’ve got songs that’ll make a gangster cry. That heartfelt song. People that go through it. I just speak for the people — I’m a narrator. A lot of people like to put out mixtapes; I refuse. I’ve never put out a mixtape in my life.
The strategy suits the streaming economy, but it predates it — Spotify became available in the United States in 2011. E-40’s albums from 2010 to 2016 feature Boosie, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown, Gucci Mane, Suga Free, Cousin Fik, and T-Pain. They’re bloated file dumps that dabble in every style. You don’t listen to them from beginning to end.
But sift through and you’ll notice flashes of brilliance that don’t fit anywhere, that no one ever stopped to appreciate. 40’s son Droop-E has an insular style as a producer with amelodic, floor-pounding beats that are alien to the era’s trends. He and others give his dad surreal environs — tribal rites, altered states, urban purgatory — which E-40 cuts through like a fluorescent streak. E-40 raps as if to set an avuncular example, but he never sounds labored or stiff. His flow is slippery and unpredictable, like each line wants to surprise the one before it. No one who started releasing music in 1991 sounds as excited and fresh as E-40. His 2010s highlights are a genre unto themselves.
Sites like ours write about singles, albums, and videos, but we rarely call out individual album cuts so we missed a lot of these. Below is a correction, expertly mixed by POW’s very own Earoh. Collected are the best moments from E-40’s days of releasing 40 to 60 songs in one day.
We toss E-40 some plaudits for doing something interesting in the twilight of his career. His story has already been written. But that’s bullshit. Songs like “Barbarian” and “The Server” would have made end of year lists had a 20-something upstart made them, or if they weren’t buried under 16 hours of music.
The Essential E-40: 2010-2016
- E-40 – Goon Music (produced by Droop-E)
- E-40 – Art of Story Tellin Pt. II (produced by Droop-E)
- E-40 – My Lil Grimey Nigga (produced by Droop-E)
- E-40 – Money Sack (ft. Boosie Badazz) (produced by Mike Free, B.A.M.)
- E-40 – Catch a Fade (ft. Kendrick Lamar, Droop-E) (produced by Droop-E)
- E-40 – Waitin’ on a Play (ft. Nicamari) (produced by Scorp-Dezel)
- E-40 – Programmin’ (produced by Sam Bostic)
- E-40 – Barbarian (produced by Droop-E)
- E-40 – All My Niggaz (ft. Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q) (produced by DecadeZ)
- E-40 – The Server (produced by Rick Rock)
- E-40 – Duck (produced by Willy Will)
- E-40 – Lightweight Jammin’ (ft. Clyde Carson, Husalah) (produced by Rhythm X Raytona 500)
- Stresmatic – Up The Street (ft. Beeda Weeda, E-40) (produced by DirtyBeats707, Matic)
- E-40 – Goin’ Up (ft. Husalah, Turf Talk) (produced by Chris “B-Man” Alcorn)
- E-40 – Choices (produced by Poly Boy)