E-40 is one of those tenured rappers who became a local legend and never quite broke out into the mainstream, despite having more than a few Billboard charting singles and music videos. E-40 earned notoriety due to his weezy sporatic vocal style and unusual unique slang that many other acts emulated. Words like "foshiggadale", "ear check", "okie doked" and "batches" (as opposed to bitches) were originated by E-40. E-40 rose to fame in the San Francisco Bay (Vallejo actually) area in 1992 with his debut album Federal, along with his group The Click, composed of D-Shot, B-Legit, and femcee Suga-T. After Federal, E-40 dropped a short EP entitled The Mail Man featuring eight new songs.
I was first intruiged by The Mail Man when I first heard the phrase "Captain Save A Hoe". "Captain Save A Hoe" is a term used to describe a desperate male who tries to win a woman over for sex by buying her extravagant gifts, taking her out to places, taking care of her kids, essentially spending all of his money on her. So I traced the phrase all the way back to the lead single, "Captain Save A Hoe" and "Captain Save A Hoe Remix", both from this EP. I loved the song from the moment I heard it; I dug the cornyness of the hook, the mid-tempo G-Funk and thumping bass, the crudeness of the lyrics; it was west coast hip hop bliss.
What surprised me the most was the fact that the remaining five songs all followed suit; with that laid back and relaxing early 90s west coast vibe. The bumpable street hustling anthem "Neva Broke", the violent and nihilistic "Bring The Yellow Tape", and the semi-cheesy gang story "Practice Lookin' Hard" all were shockingly good. "Where the Party At" was another treat, featuring a Digital Underground-esque up-tempo feel. E-40 was winning me over little by little. E-40 is often compared most to one of his contemporaries, Too $hort, for having similar subject matters and lyrical styles, and the fact that E-40 doesn't take himself seriously is a plus. The only songs that really didn't click with me (no pun intended) were the storytelling track "Mail Man" due to its weak production, and "Ballin' Outta Control", another somewhat famous E-40 cut that has no reason to be famous.
I truthfully didn't think that I would in any way EVER enjoy an E-40 song after listening to 2005's "Tell Me When to Go", one of the worst songs of all time, but now I am considering exploring his 90s catalog for more gems. 1994's The Mail Man was surprisingly good and hopefully a taste of better things. I still haven't made a final judgement on whether or not E-40 is worth my time, but at least with this EP, sleeping on him isn't the way to do...
Track List & Rating
1. Neva Broke (*****)
2. Bring the Yellow Tape (*****)
3. Practice Lookin' Hard (*****)
4. Ballin' Outta Control (***)
5. Where the Party At f/ The Mossie (****)
6. Captain Save a Hoe f/ The Click (*****)
7. Mail Man f/ Levitti (***)
8. Captain Save a Hoe [Clean] Remix f/ The Click (*****)
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