Bay Area veteran E-40 has put in over two decades in the game, and he’s imparting some wisdom on the younger cats. The Vallejo, California native recently spoke to Hard Knock TV about how to maintain a career with longevity, explaining that it’s about staying hungry and humble.
“All the MC fly-by-nights gotta understand that if you do catch a hot song and you blossom, you must remain hungry and humble,” he said. “Key words, words to live by. You must remain hungry and humble, so you stay hungry, you gotta stay on the gas pedal. You gotta stay all gas, no brake pads. And you gotta stay humble. You can’t get bigheaded, start burning bridges, start high-siding on people that helped you get to where you at. That’s how I’ve always paced myself, and I love everybody who helped me, I remember everything. I’m just grateful, because I’m before rap."
As one of West Coast rap’s pioneers, the Ambassador of the Bay doesn’t hold any grudges for subsequent record companies that borrowed from their playbook.
“You know, some of the people who take a page out of our book - I’ma keep it 1,000 - never really spoke on it, but real cats out there know that the Bay specializes in independent music, doing it themselves, selling tapes out of the trunk of their cars,” he continued. “But I don’t hold no grudges against nobody. Certain people went further. I’m not a griper. I been living a great life and I’ve been doing my thing. My name is carved in the history books. But we will never probably get our props, our serious recognition, until probably one of us passes away. Then they’ll be all, ‘They was this, they was that.’ That’s how they do it. But at the same time, we here. We ain’t gon’ stop.”
With his business ventures outside of music including a restaurant and an energy drink line, E-40 explained that longevity in hip-hop is about building your brand. “It’s always one of them situations where they think rappers just want to buy cars and jewelry and flash. [...] They always think that rappers just don’t have no knowledge of business,” he said. “My whole thing is to try to supply myself with a security blanket and a safety net, and like I always tell people, the biggest chances you can take is not taking a chance at all. So you gotta stay rolling the dice, flipping the coin. You gotta really try to do something different than just rap.”