[xrr rating=3.0/5]
[xrr rating=3.0/5]E-40’s overabundance of output has begun to rival Kool Keith, MF Doom or any rap artist synonymous with the word “prolific.” Regularly releasing music since 1991 on roughly an annual basis, 40’s noticeably increased his productivity since splitting from Warner Bros in 2009. Between his 2010/2011 Revenue Retrievin’ and 2012 Block Brochure releases, E-40’s put out seven albums, consisting of (including bonus tracks)148 songs without a single skit. Not since Guided By Voices or Wesley Willis has any artist this well-known been such a human music factory. At this point, 40 could stock an entire Columbia House Music Club by himself. Despite this marathon of music, the Revenue Retrievin’ series produced some of the best tracks of 40’s career, with only the tail-end of his Block Brochure discs sounding like he was spreading himself too thin. Despite burning the candle at more ends than thought possible, 40 enlisted fellow West Coast rap legend Too Short for two more albums to finish the year off.

On paper, a 40 and Too Short full-length is a match made in heaven. On the aforementioned excellent Revenue Retrievin’ discs, 40’s collaborations with Short were the albums’ highlights. 40’s ear for production and willingness to work with new talent gave Short a fresh crop of beats to kick his trademark mack rhymes over, and Short’s straight-forward braggadocio made for an excellent contrast for 40 to bounce off of. Their 2010 song “Bitch” remains one of the best rap songs of the past decade, a perfect medium between two trademark styles, accentuating each-others’ strengths and making their classic approach sound fresher than ever. If there was ever a fabled rap “joint-project” whose sum could potentially be as good as its parts, it’s this one.

Originally announced in 2011 as a single album called The History Channel, the project grew to two albums of songs that had to be released because, hey, he’s E-40. It’s become almost cliché for year-end best-of lists to reserve a slot for all of the 40 albums with a disclaimer saying something to the effect of “while these albums, on their own, aren’t that cohesive, you could take the best tracks from all of them and make one of the best albums this year.” 40’s capable of making a classic, as he proved with 1995’s In A Major Way. He’s also capable of making something cohesive and relevant, as he did with the first-half of 2006’s My Ghetto Report Card before it randomly morphed into a series of songs about blowjobs tailor-made for Amp’d Mobile commercials. Even the Revenue Retrievin’ discs followed a certain theme, allowing each separate release to feel like a full album. But since The Block Brochure, the logic behind the tracklists has become consistently more vague.

I get that the cover arts and titles of Mob Music and Function Music are supposed to dictate a streets/club motif between the two albums, but a listen to both shows not a very discernible difference between which songs went where. If Function Music is supposed to be the club record, why is the Rick Rock produced “Bout My Money” and the monumental Ice Cube collaboration “West Coast Shit” on it? If Mob Music is the brooding hustler record, how come it has the closest sounding production to Too Short’s sex-obsessed pimp raps?

That last question adds to an overall underwhelming aspect of the records. Instead of finding a great middle ground like they did on “Bitch,” both releases sound like Too Short verses sprinkled in the middle of late-era E-40 records. That’s not to say the project is underwhelming or that such a sound is a bad thing, but for the colossal breath of fresh air that “Bitch” was, no track on either disc really touches it. There are still some great moments, like the Suga Free assisted “One Foot” or “My Stapler,” and the vast, vast majority of the production will absolutely slap whatever subwoofer you run it through. Still, while it’s very true you could take the best tracks and make one of the year’s best albums, you could also take the tracks which didn’t make the cut and get one of the year’s most middling albums. In short, while both discs are much more consistent than The Block Brochure and Short’s own recent releases, it’s doesn’t quite reach the level one would imagine a joint record between the two would be capable of. That said, both records are still a blast, and if you’re a fan of either artist, are worth copping. Fa’shiggadale.

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One Comment

  1. aj

    January 14, 2013 at 8:45 am

    hi e-40 im 12 im your biggest fan im listening to your music right now catch a fade. i live at a group home herricks center

    Reply

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