Following last year’s two-disc debuted series, Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift and Revenue Retrievin’:Night Shift , E-40 continues his new found musical tradition and kicks off the spring with another double release, Revenue Retrievin’: Overtime Shift and Revenue Retrievin’: Graveyard Shift. The Ambassador of the Bay speaks to VIBE about different aspects of the album, including, of course the audible goods itself, as well as the business side of things, which breaks down the reason why there’s no need to fret about the competition that also released this week. In fact 40’s wisdom on his current label situation should be sure to spark all those victim of a favored artist gone major, as well as upcoming artist in the making. Along with the cool OG convo, 40 also shared his interest for taking folk tales and venturing off onto the big screen, his thoughts about The Based God—and of course, his lost homie Nate Dogg. — Diane "Shabazz" Varnie
This is the follow up to the Revenue Retrievin' series. I know you released last year’s project separately, but why did you choose do so? You did it again this time around instead of a double disc, which I would think would be easier for you.
You know put it this way, I like to record a lot of music. I stay in the studio. Even after I’m done with albums I go right back in there and continue. A lot of times, to each his own. You know, some people love to do mixtapes five and six mix tapes a year, I want to put out you know four albums and make sure that there documented with a barcode and they’re real albums and I get paid on them. I’m independent so I drive my own car. Ain’t nobody in control. Ain’t no liaison or nothing understand me, so why not. Now in days, music is worldwide now. It used to be regional, the south, the west coast, east coast, mid-west, now it’s just worldwide. It’s so many different areas and people got different acquired tastes. So you got to give them a variety of music. At the end of the day, somebody is going to find something that they like. You come with just one particular way of your sound, and then the only people that’s going to fall in love with it is a small hand full. So you just got to stay within your jurisdiction and envelope and find that happy medium to the point where everybody [likes it], you know what I mean. Somebody is going to like something, so I gave them twenty songs on the Graveyard Shift and twenty songs on the Overtime Shift.
You mentioned being independent, so I guess that’s a benefit. A lot of rappers have been catching heat for their music not sounding the same after they’ve gotten signed to a major deal. How has being independent helped you, especially since you’ve been in the game for so long?
So when I was with Jive Records, they gave me a lot of freedom. I got with Warner Records, they gave me freedom too. But the last album that I had put out, I put out a song with them in ‘08 called “Wake It Up,” and I liked the song, but my fanbase, they just wasn’t used to me doing that kind of music. So I’ve been through what some of these artists is going through where the label is searching for that single. I can’t be mad at the label either for trying to get their artist to make a great single. But, the thing is that a hit record most of the time shouldn’t have to be forced. It should be natural like afro. It got to come out of nowhere like a real contractual hit you understand me? Like a “contract” hit if you get my drift. It got to come out of nowhere, the element of surprise you smell me? So my whole thing is, now that I’m independent again, I’m back to—when I made “Captain Save a Hoe,” back in the days I went in there me and the Click—my group, they my family—we went in there and did the song with an idea and came with it and wasn’t even tripping on radio. Until the streets demanded, it was so much of a street demand that radio had no choice but to play it. They was like, “We need a clean version for this,” so I had to turn it in to “Captain Save’Em.” When we came with the record “Sprinkle Me,” it was the same thing. When I came with “B***h,” just recently the song “B***h,” I had to turn it into “Trick” because I wasn’t even tripping on the radio like that. They was like, “We need a clean version for this,” so I had to turn it into “Trick.” 50 Cent hopped on the remix, me and Too Short got it in. You see what I’m saying? I’m just making good music.
So you’re not worried at all?
See my whole thing is, I don’t have to sell a million records to make the amount of dollars that somebody that sells a million records that’s on a major label. My whole attitude is f**k double-platinum; I’m trying to go double profit. I have an 80/20 deal with EMI. This is a distribution deal. I got a P & D [Press and Distribution] deal. Twenty percent distribution fee, eighty percent me you see where I’m at with this? I’ll go ghetto Gold if I sale a hundred thousand. I don’t have to sale a hundred the first week, I can sale it the duration of the album, and during the life of the album you understand me? I can sale that within the next six months and still be good you. So I don’t have to trip like that. My whole attitude is f**k double-platinum; I’m trying to go double profit.
So for people that may have not heard the last two albums, what’s the reason for the “Day” and “Night” theme?
Doing double albums is nothing new to me because in 1998, I had a double album called the Element of Surprise, which went Gold. This was a double album that was combined into one. I mean it was two CDs in one pack. Only thing different about this one—and that was sold for a nice amount of money per CD and we was getting it back then because it was something new to the game. Now I said, “You know what, we in a recession still and you know people money is funny. Let me make two albums like I want to do.” I always wanted to do two albums but sale them separately but drop them on the same day and make them coincide with each other. So Revenue Retrievin’ had started off as just one album at first. Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift. I didn’t want to drop it during the fourth quarter. I felt my set up wasn’t right. So I said “You know what, let me spark some interest and also, let me get off all these songs that I don’t want to have seating around.” I was gone already put nineteen songs on Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift, so I said “You know what, I had already over recorded and had other songs, so I said let me add six, seven more songs and make it two albums, Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift and Revenue Retrievin’: Night Shift.” Me and my partner RJ, we thought of that on the airplane coming back from LA. We was like “Let’s just do two albums, see if EMI let you do two albums,” and they was all with the program. I thank Jesse Flores for it and I thank RBC. He was like “Let’s roll,” and I’m like “You know what, we’re having so much success with these albums, people are loving it, I’m back to my independent grind, I’m back to doing what I want to do, I’m free, I’m letting it all out, I’m being me, I’m doing different patterns on my rap, I’m rapping better than ever, and I say, “Let me do another one,” and I do the same thing, same format. This time, Revenue Retrievin’: Overtime Shift and Revenue Retrievin’: Graveyard Shift. To answer your question, the graveyard shift starts from 12 to 8 a.m., somewhere around there. I was like “All these songs right here, they’re going to go on the Graveyard Shift,” that’s how we picked them out, me and my son Droop-E. All the Overtime Shift, you know overtime shift can just be around the clock, 12, 16, 20 hours. The other songs worked for the Overtime Shift. That’s how I did it. Next thing you know, come December, you’re going to get Revenue Retrievin’: Double Shift, and Revenue Retrievin’: 24-Hour Shift.
You have always been a person that had an unorthodox style and flow, but you always had a good relationship with a variety of artists. Let’s talk about some of these features and start with your son, Droop-E.
Droop-E produced fourteen songs the Overtime Shift and the Graveyard Shift. Working with him man, we have a good chemistry. He’s very opened minded young man, truly talented. He’s not scared to go left when everyone’s going right. Its father son chemistry, we work very well together.
Droop-E gets that from you by the way. On Overtime Shift, you worked with Devin the Dude, talk about that record.
That was a record that was way overdue. Back in the day we did a song called “F.O.M.H. (F**king Off My High),” and that’s my dude, we went way back in 1992 in the Rap-A-Lot office, we go way back. I used to always be in Houston. I remember when that was like my second home and I still have my family out there—Rap-a-Lot, Mean Doe Green, Devin and them. Devin has always been a solid dude him and his manager Rico and basically it was overdue, it was time, so we came back with “Lookin’ Back.” I said “Devin, I’ma send this track to you, my boy Jake One produced it,” and he wanted to give it that old school west coast feel and take it all the way back old school. He was like “Send it me 40,” so I sent it and it came back with “Lookin’ Back” and the hook started talking about when we first and when it wasn’t no social network, it wasn’t no internet, no none of that. It was like we just started talking about back in the days when it used to cost hella’ bread for a two-inch Rio and only get three songs, as supposed to now, you can spend 250 dollars or less and get you a hard drive with Terabyte, and put thousands of songs on that thang. So that’s what that “Lookin’ Back” is about. Just taking them all the way back, letting them know our struggle, what we had to go through. It wasn’t that easy.
Now speaking of H-town, I’m not surprised that you hooked up with Bun B and Slim Thug on this project. The track is about “candy paint” and cars, which I know both The Bay and Houston have in common. How did you guys come together for this?
Shape Shifta, the producer, sent it to me. He worked with my little cousin The DBs and was like “E-40 I got some tracks for you,” so he sent me like six tracks and that was the one that poked out like nipples to me. And I was like “You know what, this got a little cruising vibe,” and it had Bun B already on the hook—he sampled Bun B’s voice, so I said “Let me get at Bun B. That’s my folks, let me holla at Bernard—we call each other by our real names, I call him Bernard, he calls me Earl. Same thing used to go with Pimp C, you know, Chad—R.I.P Pimp C, we you. I’ve been working with UGK and them for years. I’m talking about way back early ‘90s. We go way back with our music; we got a few songs together. So basically I was like “Let me get my guy on here.” I said “I think I‘ma get Thugga on there.” Thugga younger than me and Bun, but Thugga always been a solid, young dude that always paid attention to the game and kept it solid all throughout his career and he’s doing his thang. So I had to get Thugga on there and it became one of them ones. I love that song man, it’s perfect.