Vallejo legend E-40 (real name Earl Tyrone Stevens Sr), as part of The Click (comprised of B-Legit, D-Shot and Suga-T), aside from Too $hort, was one of the first artists from Northern California’s Bay Area to breakthrough into the hip-hop mainstream.
Steven had a massive impact on America’s view of California. He showcased the depth, diversity and variety of music the state could produce outside of just Los Angeles. Hip-hop recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, and E-40 sat down with The New York Times to reflect on how he and the Bay Area have grown since the genre’s inception in 1973.
Stevens spoke about the 2000s and the dormant state of West Coast hip-hop before he released his ninth studio album in 2006, stating, “When I came out with Ghetto Report Card, I was 37, 38 years old. My whole career just revived. It was amazing. I was part of the crunk movement and the hyphy movement at the same time. ‘U and Dat,’ ‘Snap Yo Fingers,’ and so on. We had the South and the West Coast.”
Following the short but sweet burst New York had in the early 2000s, it was evident to many that East Coast hip-hop was on the decline, and the South was evidently taking its place at the top. However, E-40 believes the west also had a rise during the mid-2000s due to his album.
He continued, “Imagine if there was streaming back then when we had ‘Tell Me When to Go,’ ‘Bitch,’ ‘Choices.’ We would be diamond on each one of those records. I put new life into the West Coast in 2006. And that’s no ifs, ands or buts. Can’t nobody say I didn’t, with the help of Lil Jon. And it’s never stopped since then.”
He then unveiled that he has been one of the most integral figures concerning North California rap, explaining, “That’s my role — they call me the Ambassador of the Bay. And I don’t know nobody else there that represents it like me.”
Ghetto Report Card was extremely successful and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. Although it is undeniable that Crunk was far more successful than Hyphy as a subgenre and movement, E-40 integrated many Bay Area sonics into his hits. Too $hort had a slight comeback in the early-2010s featuring alongside MCs such as Wiz Khalifa on tracks like ‘On My Level’.
You can listen to Ghetto report Card below.