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Feb. 26, 2024

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Rapper E-40 discusses new album

‘Rule of Thumb: Rule 1’ comes more than 30 years after debut

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From left, Ray Luv, Money-B, E-40 and MC Hammer laugh during a street renaming ceremony Nov. 3 for Tupac Shakur in Oakland, Calif.
From left, Ray Luv, Money-B, E-40 and MC Hammer laugh during a street renaming ceremony Nov. 3 for Tupac Shakur in Oakland, Calif. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press) Photo Gallery

LOS ANGELES — E-40 built a three-decade-plus career on the foundations of an unorthodox rap flow, schooling listeners with life lessons through his streetwise perspective.

With a heavy dose of Bay Area slang, E-40 created a lane for his unique hip-hop vernacular that has made him one of the genre’s most revered artists. As a savvy businessman, he’s leveraged his connections in the rap world to the wine, ice cream and food brand industries, including a Filipino food business inside Oracle Park in San Francisco.

Now at 56, there’s no slowing down for E-40, who released his 27th studio album, “Rule of Thumb: Rule 1,” on Friday. His new project comes more than 30 years after his debut, “Federal.”

The new album — which features NBA YoungBoy, Too Short, Larry June, Gucci Mane, B.G. and E-40’s son Droop-E — is the first installment of the “Rule of Thumb” album series. He plans to release the sequel album early next year.

In a recent interview, E-40 spoke with The Associated Press about being an underrated legend, his unorthodox rap style and the new cookbook called “Snoop Dogg Presents: Goon With The Spoon,” which was released this week.

What’s the meaning behind your album title?

I feel like “Rule of Thumb” is just common sense. It’s certain rules and regulations that you must just know off top. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist. You don’t have to have a quarter of a brain to comprehend that. I’m teaching life lessons. Giving it to them straight, not fake and not fabricating things. It’s a lot of lightweight storytelling and a lot of life lessons, consequences and repercussions. I mix it up like a gumbo pot. I’m multi-dimensional. I don’t do just one style of rap. My beats aren’t always the same. I’m everywhere like air.

Where does your unorthodox rap style and wisdom come from?

Being chipped from a different cliff, being carved from a different clay, and made from a different fabric. I’m wired different than most. I’m from an era of morals and respect, and we follow guidelines. That’s always been me. … I always told stories. I talked about the repercussions and the consequences. If you go do this, you do know that little 30-second decision that you made could cost you 30 years in prison or you might be buried 6 feet deep. I always talked about the consequences if you go do something. I speak the real.

You’re highly respected within hip-hop, but how does the feeling of being underrated bother you?

My life is beautiful. I’m very successful. I’m financially set. I’m financially good. I’m still accumulating bread. I’m still breaking boundaries. But anything that’s different is always going to be questionable. There will never be a rapper like E-40, whether you like me or not. You just got to give it to me. I got my own thing. I’ve been successful for 36 years with music since 1988. Let that soak in. I’ve got to be doing something right. Can’t just be no damn luck. I come from the ground up. All your favorite independent CEOs, they respect me because I was first. I laid the foundation for independent music.

Do I still feel underrated? Yes, I do. But I know what comes with the package. They like people that’s in the pocket and never go outside the box. That’s not me.

You have a new cookbook. When did your passion for cooking start?

I’m the oldest of four. Moms would work two or three jobs. My mom and dad divorced when I was 8 years old. I had a lot of responsibilities being the oldest, so I cooked. We all knew how to cook. We taught ourselves how to cook. I worked at a restaurant when I was a teenager. There was a Caucasian man that I’d love dearly to this day. His name is Lewis. He taught me how to cook escargot, orange roughy with almonds with lemon butter sauce with white wine. He taught me how to do London broil and chicken cordon bleu.

How did you and Snoop connect on this cookbook?

Snoop, that’s my guy. He cooks as well. He was like, “Earl, my book was very successful. I sold over a million copies. It’s a bestseller. Let me present it.”

I was like “Snoop, I rock with you. You’re legendary. You’re a good friend of mine. I’ve been knowing you for over 30-plus years. We’re family. Thank you. Let’s do it.”

When you put your pride to the side, bigger things happen. He’s got some recipes in there. I got some recipes in there. He’s got adult beverages. I have adult beverages. It only makes sense. We both co-pack. We do the whole thing. Teamwork makes the dream work. It’s enough money out there for all of us.

You’ve met with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House, received an honorary doctorate from Grambling State University and had a street named after you in your hometown of Vallejo, Calif. How has hip-hop impacted your life?

Shout out to DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-DMC. Those dudes really paved the way for people like myself to diversify our portfolios and find other ways to make financial gain on a legitimate note. This beats the streets. You can make more money here than you could ever in the streets.

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