E-40 and Too Short's historic collaboration caps another strange year for Bay Area rap
Given the bizarre local backlash against hyphy beginning mid-2007 — forcing its originators to prematurely back away from the sound — this is a remarkably philosophical purchase. Reached by phone, Traxamillion agrees, as his own 2012 disc My Radio (SMC) finds him revisiting the implications of the sound.
"I'm not mad," he says. "I felt like I had an influence on music on a national level."
OUT HERE TRYNA FUNCTION
The next night, I'm in a Dublin club, where we're not allowed to drink, because this is a movie. Sympathetic to my long wait, Droop E's somehow procures me some Jameson's and the tawny liquid immediately catches E-40's eye. "Gable, what you got there?" Dressed in a black pinstriped suit, 40 has finally arrived for his cameo, a series of elaborate tracking shots of him pouring a shot and toasting. Finally, I manage to catch him in an unoccupied moment and remind him about the interview; can we tape a few questions? He fixes me with a look of contempt.
"Nah, I ain't fuckin' with you."
I feel the blood drain from my face. Then, with agonizing slowness, a smile begins to creep across his lips.
"Nah, I'm just playin'," he says. "Let's do it."
Delays are nothing new to the Vallejo MC; he and Too Short first began announcing History in the late '90s while they were both on Jive, but Jive never let it happen.
"It was 10 years in the making, but it didn't take 10 years to make," 40 says. "God work in mysterious ways so now's the perfect time because we get all the marbles. We superindependent. We got a distribution deal through EMI."
40's made the most of his new freedom, only releasing albums in pairs and trios since parting with Warner after The Ball Street Journal (2008). Where BSJ bore clear signs of corporate overthink, 40's prolific post-Warner output makes it obvious that he does his best work with a free hand. At age 45, the rapper scored one of his biggest hits this year with Block Brochure's "Function," which in turn has provided a convenient new label to replace the toxic term "hyphy." History's two volumes are thus divided into Mob Music and Function Music.
"Function music is more club, party music," 40 says. "The difference between function music and mob music, function is the feel of the new era; we're covering two and a half to three decades of music. We been doing it since the mid-'80s and here it's almost 2013. Some people wish they could have one hit; I have had many hits in my life."
"There's people who don't like me but I've carved my name into the history books," he concludes. "There'll never be another E-40 ever because I'm too different. One thing about the Bay Area: we some trendsetters and we got haters and they talk about us but they duplicate us later."