Showing posts with label E-40. Show all posts
Showing posts with label E-40. Show all posts

Thursday, December 30, 2010

E-40 & The Click Week: Day 5: The Mail Men

The Mail Man was the one. Federal, Down & Dirty, Mr. Flamboyant, Let's Slide... all impressive, indie albums, but The Mail Man is E-40's masterpiece. Of course, it had the epic lead single, which even added the concept of "Captain Save A Hoe" to the lexicons of New York heads, and has forever immortalized "the package deal down there at, uh, Cellular One." hehe But it also featured the dramatic imagery of "Bring the Yellow Tape" and while other gangsters would die if a crack showed in the shield of their bravado, 40 glibly turned the confession "I got a mirror in my pocket and I practice lookin' hard" into a hit song.

For me, though, even more than "Captain Save A Hoe," the signature tune was "Neva Broke." With it's live production and throwback vocoder hook (a concept MC 900 Ft Jesus jacked and used for his big MTV hit a few months later), the tune was immediately addictive. But all that only served to showcase E-40's stand-out mic skills, with his fluctuating delivery and raw street rhymes. I mean, even though NWA and such had been around for years, a verse about tying up a man's wife and making him watch him rape her was still shocking in '94, especially when he goes on to add, "now folks remember, I'm skanless and I'm anti-fuckless. I carry diseases such as Herpes." Who says shit like that? Only E-40! Then as he cheerfully sings (not raps, sings), "I need a flathead screwdriver but a butter knife will do," it's just one of the illest, rawest narrative verses about crime in hip-hop history, and I'd stand it right alongside anything by G Rap, Raekwon or Slick Rick. That's The Mail Man.

"But jeez, Werner, don't tell us it's the same story again?"
Yes, I'm afraid so. Based off of the success of "Captain Save a Hoe," Jive signed E-40 and picked up his EP, The Mail Man and released it first. Then Sick Wid' It put it out independently and removed some songs... wait. What is this? Bizzaro World?

Apparently! The Sick Wid' It version has six songs and is dated 1995, and the Jive version has eight tracks and is dated 1994. Part of this can be explained away, more or less. The Sick Wid' It EP is just plain dated wrong. I know because I bought these when they were new, and I remember then that it was dated into the future. I have no idea why, but I'm pretty sure they both came out in 1994 (or even late '93 for the original), and it's on the success of the 6-song Sick Wid' It version (and the single, amusing titled "Captain Save Them Thoe"), that Jive reissued it that same year. The really surprising part is just that Jive didn't mess it up like they did all the other Click albums they reissued. Instead they actually added tracks!

Not that the new tracks are anything to get too excited about. One of them, the "Captain Save a Hoe (Remix)" is really just the clean version ("you wanna kill me 'cause I tossed yo chick"). And the other track, "Ballin' Outta Control," is at least a proper song into itself - and it was an exciting exclusive at the time, with an attention-getting hook by Levitti - but Jive later wound up including it on E's 1998 album, The Element of Surprise.

By the way, a quick interjection: the Sick Wid' It CD also lists eight songs, including two that might first appear to be exclusives: "Real Shit" and "Playa Hater." But these are really just the otherwise uncredited intro and outro skits that are featured on every version of The Mail Man... nothing to get excited about.

So yeah... there's really no clear winner here. The original is cool to own just because it's the original. But the reissue no different, content-wise; and the extras, while nothing special, are still a bit of added value. And that's the way reissues should work. And really, if Jive could only get one album right, at least they chose the masterpiece not to screw up. Whichever version you have, you can't lose. 8)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

E-40 & The Click Week: Day 3, Watered Down & Dirty

If you thought what Jive did to Federal was bad (and you were right; it was), wait'll we get into what they did to The Click's debut full-length, Down & Dirty. Like Federal, Down & Dirty was released before E-40 blew up with "Captain Save a Hoe" - specifically, 1993. And like Federal, Jive picked it up and rereleased it (in 1995), but only after making some drastic and somewhat baffling decisions.

Just to give you an idea of how much damage was done: the original Down & Dirty was 18 songs long. Well... at least the cassette version was. The vinyl version shaved off a few to fit onto a single LP. But the reissue is only 11 songs long; that's seven gone missing! What's more, even some of the songs they kept were completely remixed. You have to ask, how much of the album does that even leave after all that tinkering and slashing? I mean, heck, seven songs is almost an album onto itself.

Let's break it down song by song, shall we?

1. Let's Get Drunk - REMIXED - Let's be fair to the remixes. They don't all suck and this isn't a case of every remixed song being ruined. I prefer the original, though, because for some reason the sampled hook plays as funnier, and that's key to this song.

2. On a Mission - REMIXED - This version is actually funkier than the original though, with some cool old school horn samples.

3. Ballers - REMOVED - But it's just a skit, so no great loss.

4. Street Life - REMIXED - Adds elements including a muzak-like flute to the already already over-produced retread of the original "Street Life."

5. Mic Check - REMIXED - The big, overbearing keyboards are the same on both, but this was lacks the funky, rolling piano that Marley Marl used on "We Write the Songs." Boo!

6. Mr. Flamboyant - LEFT INTACT - Though if you're in the market for an alternate version of this song, remember the Mr. Flamboyant EP has a slightly stripped down version.

7. Tramp Dogs - LEFT INTACT - And this is one they easily could've removed, since it's also featured on B-Legit's first album, under the title "Dank Room." That deletion would make sense, but nooo... they had to pull the plug on the songs coming up instead.

8. Old School - REMIXED - And the original is more fun with Malcolm McLaren scratches and stuff throughout.

9. The Shit That Will Fuck Up Your Brain - LEFT INTACT

10. She Was Only 16 - LEFT INTACT

11. Tired Of Being Stepped On - LEFT INTACT - Three songs left alone in a row? Hey, maybe Jive didn't do such a hatchet job after all...

12. Sohabs - REMOVED - ...Oh never mind. Here goes one of the better songs, with a funky beat, flute, and the only appearance by Click member Suga T. It's also an early example of E & The Click introducing the world to their unique slang, which has become a signature of theirs.

13. Daily Routine - REMOVED - A slow, deep and funky solo joint by B-Legit. One of the best songs on the album. Now, I hear what a few of you fans are thinking, "but, Werner, this was on B-Legit's album, too; so who cares?" Yeah, but unlike "Tramp Dogs"/ "Dank Room," this version is completely remixed. And furthermore, it's much better here. Argh, Jive, what were you thinking!?

14. Clicks Concert - LEFT INTACT - But it's just a 15 second skit, so who cares?

15. Porno Star - REMOVED - Holy shit! They removed "Porno Star?" Damn, I love this song! Now I really feel sorry for the people who got the Jive version ...which, remember, was most people.

16. Party In the V-Town - REMOVED - Like the Mr. Flaboyant songs I mentioned, this one adds some fun energy to The Click's catalog, and the horn sample is like something out of The $% King catalog (ok, it probably IS right out of his catalog). I'd really miss this one from the album.

17. You Fucked Up When You Slammed My Motha - REMOVED - Damn, that's it. I don't know wha Jive released, but it isn't Down & Dirty. The Jive version is just some kind of sampler EP or something... it just can't be Down & Dirty anymore.

18. Let's Side - REMOVED - A bevy of funky old samples, fresh scratches and a playful delivery by E-40. This was the title cut of their debut EP and still one of their greatest hits. Sigh...

Flat out, if you don't have the original version of Down & Dirty, you don't have Down & Dirty. Jive straight up decimated this album, releasing only a fraction of what once was. Hell, they completely excised Suga T... I'm surprised they didn't blur out her image on the album cover. Still, the remixes are at least pretty decent - like I said, I think "On a Mission" is actually better on the second version, and I could see people preferring the original "Let's Get Drunk" if that's the one they were first introduced to. So, for hardcore fans, I'd actually recommend picking up both. But there's simply no question which version gets top priority.

Monday, December 27, 2010

E-40 & The Click Week: Day 2: Mr. Flamboyant Himself

You know how I said, yesterday, that fans might be confused by seeing a "Tanji II" on what was ostensibly being presented as a debut album? Well, I'm not gonna front. Back in the early 90's, I was confused by it, too. If Federal was E-40's debut album, even before he signed to a major label, where the heck was "Tanji" part one?

It wasn't until years later I discovered the answer to that was a rare, earlier debut called Mr. Flamboyant, released on Sick Wid' It Records back in 1991. The label actually credits it to "E-40 and the Click" on one spot, and just "The Click" on another; but hardly anybody raps on any of these songs except E-40 himself (B-Legit is credited, but he only speaks briefly between 40's verses on the one song). So, though The Click does share production credit, it is essentially a solo EP.

Now, granted, the title cut was also included on The Click's debut album, Down and Dirty, from 1993; so odds are that you've already got the song... This version is a bit different, though. It has more of a raw, demo-ish feel here. It doesn't have that intro with E singing, "yeah, I'm just a hustler..." over sleigh bells, and it doesn't have all the vocal samples that appear on the later version. But musically and lyrically, it's pretty identical, so the differences are essentially academic. Not so exciting, even if this one came first. But the rest of the EP consists of all original songs, unique to this EP. So now it's got your attention, huh?

Now, first of all, what songs you get depends which version of Mr. Flamboyant you get. As you can see, I have the vinyl version, so I get four songs, including the title track. If I had gotten the cassette version, I would've gotten three songs (including the title track) plus the instrumental for "Mr. Flamboyant." So you have to choose between a song called "Shut It Down" or the instrumental. Oddly enough, though, both versions fill space by putting the songs "Tanji" and "Club Hoppin'" twice, once on side A and once on side B. There's no difference between them, side B doesn't have instrumental mixes or clean versions... they just stuck the same songs on twice. Strange, but there you have it.

Now to "Tanji." Interestingly, "Tanji" is a short (minute and a half), single verse song, that's actually - lyrically speaking - contained entirely within "Tanji II" from Federal. The first verse from "Tanji II" is the single verse in this "Tanji"... that's why the first verse of "Tanji II" ends with "stay tuned for the next episode." It makes more sense when it's the end of the song and promising a sequel. So, anyway, the verse is the same but the music is completely different... it's got what I think are opera samples mixed with old school bells and stuff. It's kinda crazy, but works and goes with his flow and story. I'm not sure if it's better than "Tanji II," because I'm a big fan of that one... but I'd say they're both about equal, just different.

There's more old school samples on "Club Hoppin'," like the horns or whatever that sound is from "Cinderfella Dana Dane." This whole EP has a more classic hip-hop vibe to it. I guess you could say that's because it's older, so of course it sounds older. But I think E and his producers were just coming more from a place of respecting the golden age traditions on this EP, at least in the music... his flow here is still pretty cutting edge/ out there, after all.

Both "Club Hoppin'" and "Shut It Down" are very up-beat party songs. "Shut It Down" uses a little more P-funk, but they're both very 80's rap dance songs. E-40 does still kick more game than your average pop MC: "one day, moms gonna get a call, 'wouldja wouldja wouldja come identify your son?'" But this is like the NWA equivalent to "Something 2 Dance 2" rather than "Fuck the Police." Me, I always like "Something 2 Dance 2" a lot, and think it provides some much needed energy to their catalog... and I think the music on this EP works the same way for E-40. But if you really want one type of song and one type of song only from your gangsta rappers, this might be too far removed from the formula for your tastes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

E-40 & The Click Week: Day 1, A Federal Case

It's been ages since I've done a "week," huh? Well, I think this should be a fun one... Instead of boring top tens and "year in review" retrospectives, we're gonna ride out the last week of 2010 examining the music of E-40 and The Click.

I don't think I've mentioned E much on this blog, if at all (except for my awesome interview with the man, of course); but I've always been a fan. He's like the perfect blend between the lofty, artistic end of west coast hip-hop with his inventive, off-the-wall delivery and streetwise gangsta rap with an air of first-hand knowledge. The Good Life movement meets NWA.

And Federal was his major label debut. One of the songs on that album, "Drought Season" remains one of my favorite 40 songs of all time, with him and his cousin Kaveo spitting tongue-twisting game over a retooled version of Whodini's "One Love." Federal was originally released on his own label, Sick Wid' It Records, in 1992. But after the success of his single "Captain Save a Hoe," Jive didn't just sign E-40 and his crew, The Click - they also bought and redistributed most of their back catalog. So in 1994, Federal was rereleased, reaching a mass audience for the first time. But unfortunately for them, Jive gave them an inferior version.

There are some superficial changes to the artwork and the sequencing... "Carlos Rossi" originally appeared early on the album; but on the Jive version, it's tucked all the way towards the end of side 2. But there are far more important, and disappointing, alterations to consider than that type of stuff.

The high energy "Hide-N-Seek," a first person narrative which has E-40 running in fear from the police. It features a classic old school horn sample married with hard drums and this piercing keyboard sound, giving the song a discordant, anxious vibe, mirroring 40's panic. At least it does on the original. On Jive's Federal, all that music has been removed and replaced with a much calmer, relaxed beat with soft vibes and some very g-funk keys. It's not bad, but it absolutely fails to replicate the fast-paced adrenaline rush of the original version. It would've been more fitting for a nice story of how E-40 met a girl he liked, rather than a high-speed chase.

Speaking of a story about how E-40 met a girl he liked, how about "Tanji II?" Don't remember that one? That's because Jive pulled it off their version of the album completely. This is really unfortunate, because, after "Drought Season," it's my favorite moment of Federal. It's got E-40 kicking an unusual, high speed, start-and-stop flow with a fun, stuttering hook "T-T-T-T-Tanji; I picked her up at a house party. T-T-T-Tanji!" The instrumental, with it's pop guitar samples, is definitely out of the ordinary for any music coming out of the west coast at that time, let alone from The Click's camp. And his word choice has a lot of unexpected humor to it ("radical!" he declares). Unless you got the Jive version, of course, in which case you got nuthin'. I guess they figured audiences being introduced to E-40 for the first time would be confused by the "II" in the title.

And that's not the only missing song either. "Get 'Em Up" is another casualty of Jive's, an almost New York-style cut with a hardcore shouted chorus and freestyle battle rhymes. There's old jazz horns and vocal samples flipped into a rugged rap track you'd expect to hear TR Love rhyming over, rather than anyone from the V. Then there's "Rasta Funky Style," where E-40 joins in the short-lived tradition of the token raggamuffin song MCs used to put on their album. This is the most painless loss, but it's interesting to hear how E-40's unique style and voice marries to reggae - it certainly doesn't sound like anybody else's raggamuffin song. I assume both songs were removed because they featured E-40 trying something different and drifting out of his lane... Jive wanted a gangsta rapper, not a multi-talented artist flexing his versatility. But these songs go a long way to keeping this album from getting dull and "one note."

Given the luxury of an informed decision, I can't see why anybody would choose the 1994 release of Federal over the original '92... though of course I can understand why completists would feel compelled to pick up both, just for the alternate versions of "Hide-N-Seek." But for most people, who were just going to get one Federal, the Jive version just feels like a bit of a rip-off - a trap for the new fan who didn't know enough to hold out for the original. And while I can sort of guess why Jive made the decisions they did (except with "Hide-N-Seek" - I guess they just couldn't clear the sample?), it still just seems stupid... passing off a lot of potential sales of their album to Sick Wid' It's version, which was still out in stores at the same time, after all. Oh well.

Monday, April 7, 2008

(Werner Necro'd) Platinum Plaques and Possums - E-40 Interview

This interview was done way back in 1998... And as you can guess from our super cheesy poses in our photo (hi, TRUNKS!), this was a fun interview. A crazy throwing down of slang, with E-40 talking about everything from his lyrics - a west coast game spitter standing up against the freestyle skill-flexing MCs that were dominating the scene in the late 90's, his independent roots, his movie, and the cartoon he was working on at the time called Patrick the Possum. No, really.

Bet. We're in here with E-40.

What's crackin'?

Who else we got here, with us, today?

We got my boy Omar, Omeezy. My manager Chaz, modulatin'. That's our team.

So how you feelin' New York?

It's cool, it's cool. I've been modulatin'. Everything's cool. it's been nothing but love, nothing but love. Ya smell me?

You got a new album coming out, right?

Yeah. It's out. It's called The Element of Surprise. It's already gold. We're seven weeks into the project. Gonna be platinum, right around the corner. The new single's "Ground Up" featuring me, Too $hort, K-Ci, and JoJo. Back to back knocks on there, twenty-four rumble. Smell me?

So what's the science behind the title, The Element of Surprise?

It's just like, when you least expect it. We all know that, you know what I mean? On this one, I took it all the way back to where I first started at, which was Federal, you know what I'm saying? The album I first came up with, where everybody really grew up on... Like, Federal, where when everybody says, "Your first album, that's the one." So I took it back to that. That's what The Element of Surprise is. They wasn't expecting it, it came at them, just straight back-to-back rumbles. Like that.

Ay-ight... Speaking of your first album, when you first started out, you were just on your own label, Sick Wid It... And then you had kind of a big thing where Jive picked you up. What was the story behind that?

See, Sick Wid It started in 1988. It was grass-root. Straight home-made, home-grown, from the ground up. And, at the time, where we started in our situation, they weren't really checkin' for Bay Area rap. I mean, it was certain groups. You had Digital Underground, you had $hort, and you had some other Bay Area groups that had got signed to a major. But, during that time, when we were looking for a deal, it didn't really crack off. And I'm kinda glad, 'cause it forced us to do our own thug-thizzle. Smell me? So, we got with Jive and got major distribution. Which, that's what we was lackin'. The marbles was there, and everything, but when we got at Jive, we put it down on a national level, where, when you pull up on Sound-Scan, you're gonna see a lot more zeros than when we were just doin' it ourselves. Ya see? That's a thousand there, fifteen hundred there, that's twenty there, ya know I mean? Like that.

Yeah, 'cause I remember reading, when that happened, that was one of the biggest signings of someone who was virtually unknown, like independent.

Exactly. That was the earlier-day signings. Now they got different. You can spit a 16-measure verse, now, on somebody else that was already established's track, that's already in the game, and get a phat-ass deal now, equivalent, ya smell me? but it's all gravy. (Laughs)

And you got a lot of projects poppin' off now, right? You got the movie comin' out... Tell us about that. Charlie Hustle?

I got the Charlie Hustle, the movie of the self-made millionaire. Movie and soundtrack. It's an autobiographical movie. Documentary, pretty much talkin' about, you know, my climb up the ladder. We had to crawl before we walked, woulda took us to the point in our career, now, you know, to be straight-up established and everything, and lettin' everybody know that we didn't just blossom over-night. It wasn't no over-night sensation. Showin' moms and pops stores that delt with us in the past... a little bit of everything. And I got the soundtrack that's gonna go right along with it. I'm not gonna be on everything song, but I'm gonna have guest-appearances on there, so I'ma treat it as if it's my album, ya smell me? It's a good package.

And when's that comin' out?

That's comin' March of '99. It was gonna be November, but I moved it back 'cause I didn't wanna get caught up in the four quarter madness, ya smell me?

So, you also got another project coming out... You got the book coming out, right?

Now ya smell me on this one, right? You know I'm the king of slang, right? So what I did, basically; it was pretty much a street demand. Everybody hollerin' at me, on the street, I been hearin' about this dictionary. "40, man, when ya gonna go and put it down?" So, actually, what I did, I said, "Ok, we're gonna do it for real this time, no lolly-gaggin', no bullshittin', let's make it happen." So, of course I'ma have the fah sheezies, and the playa-hatas, and a lot of the words that a lot of the people are sayin' nowadays across the country which was founded at the Mecca of the game, which was the bay area. And, although I put down about 75% of that , it came up out my head. But, at the same token, it's time for me to go ahead, and lace everybody's tennis shoes, and show 'em what the dictionary book of slang is about. And so when I come with it, it's just gonna have the definitions of just a little bit of everything. It's gonna talk about everything except the yolla-gang (sic.), which is not public knowledge, you smell me? It's crackin'. That's early '99. That's comin' with the gypsiness. That's the motion.

And, really, the illest thing I just read - you've got a cartoon comin' out?

You know what? The cartoon is something in the head that I just gotta put together. It's called, Patrick the Possum. He's this nonchalant cat in the neighborhood. He's got the kangol, he's got the toothpick in his mouth. He's the cat, you know, in every neighborhood, there's a guy who can tie your shoes, and sprinkle you, and lace your tennis shoes, you know what I'm sayin'? Just bring you up, just teach you somethin'. 'Cause it's wisdom. He's older, but he ain't no square. He just modulates and he posts up in the hood and they come up to him. It's kinda like, remember how, Tennessee Tuxedo and Chumly and how they used to go to Mr. Wizard? (Laughs) Remember that? That's how this dude, that's how Patrick the Possum is. But he's just this player-type fool who just knows a little bit of everything. So they go to him for advice in the neighborhood and everything, ya smell me? Like that. There's a whole story-board behind it, but, you know, but it's just bright ideas behind that. That's gonna be in motion soon.

Cool. And before we end this, just one time for the record, break down the whole Sick Wid It family, the projects they got comin' out now.

Ok, for the energy, that's how we're twerkin' it, right? First of all, Sick Wid It Records is the foundation of independent rap music. You smell me? We put it down many years ago. Me and my cousin, B-Legit, my brother D-Shot, and my sister Suga-T. The group is called the Click. First album, Down and Dirty. Sold 350,000 units on the underground, way back in 1992, ya smell me? We had releases before that; there was EP's like, Mr. Flamboyant, Let's Slide, that was our earlier EP's, albums, music that we had, back then, to get us where we at now. But, anyway, we put out Down and Dirty in 1992 and we put out Game Related in 1995. Now we're doin' Rough Ridin' which is gonna hit 'em in '99. During this whole time, we've been having solo projects, ya smell me? I had Mr Flamboyant. I had The Mail Man. I had In a Major Way. I had The Hall of Game. And now I got The Element of Surprise, and, next up is, Charlie Hustle: The Blueprint of a Self-Made. That's me, personally. Then, my cousin B-Legit had B-Legit the Savage: Tryin' To Get a Buck, then he had The Hemp Museum, and now he's workin' on Hempin' Ain't Easy, which is gonna be at you in March. No, that's February, ain't it, Chaz? Chickidee? (Laughs) Then we got D-Shot comin' with his. D-Shot put out, D-Shot the Shot Caller, then he had, D-Shot: Six Figures. And, my sister, she had Suga-T: It's All Good, ya smell me?

Didn't D-Shot also have a compilation album?

Exactly. Boss Ballers One and Two, which both did well, ya smell me? Then, also, we have my cousin Lil' Bruce. I mean, there's just so many artists that came up under that umbrella. Celly-Cell, who, he got that album, The G-Files, written as we speak. We got A-1, comin' out, we got Rhythm and the Resevoir Hoggs, we got my cousin Levitti sung on a whole bunch of underground... just serious ghetto shit, you smell me? We got, uhm... Who else we got crackin'? We got The Mossie, which is my brother Young Mugzie, my cousin Tap That Ass, my cousin Kaveo, you smell me? So we're just continually working. We're gonna hit 'em real hard in '99, and, uh, Sick Wid It Records is the Mecca of the independent game.

Ay-ight, bet. So, you got anything else you wanna say to the fans checkin' this out?

Just tune in. Take time to listen to E-Fonzirelli lyrically. 'Cause, you know, I might not spit strictly metaphors 'cause a lot of people think that if you don't spit constantly metaphors or whatever, however... If you ain't comparing rap, like, "I'm like that chair over there. I can't be sat on." If you ain't doin' that, you're not the dopest rapper in the world, or you're not considered an MC. I'm a game-related-infested, street-slang rapper, you smell me? I got the stop-start and go street-talk delivery. So you might wanna focus. Listen closely. I'm not just throwin' a whole bunch of words that don't fit in a rhyme. Every word counts. Focus on E-40, Fonzirelli. Take time out, go snatch up the records. Go read up on my catalog. Ask some people about me. My dictionary might help a lot of you who don't know about what's crackulatin'. And, just be on the look-out. It's E-Feezy, Fonzireezy, smell me? Sick Wid It records all day.

Today, you know E-Fonzirelli's gonna have a myspace, and here it is. He's also got an official site at From all his projects you read him talking about there, realized and unrealized, it's easy to believe this man now has his own beverage on the market, 40 Water. He also has a new album coming out later this year, The Ball Street Journal. There's no stoppin' this guy.