E-40 Shares His Key To Longevity In Hip-Hop

The Ambassador of the Bay explains how to have a key knee-deep in the rap game.

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.”

RELATED: E-40 and Too Short to Release Joint LP

17 Comments

  • Tonya Jackson-Warren

    E-40 has always been one of the best rappers alive... You ant got to wait to be dead for you to hear that from me... You holding us down in the "V" fa real...Love you Boi!!!!

  • ITSACOMPTONTHANG

    e-40 was way better in the 90's in a major way game related charlie hustle federal the mailman etc

  • P

    I Been Banging The new e40 album since it dropped it aint a day go by that I really dont listen to it. e 40 always been cold he got his own style and do what he do and does it well And Im still banging Revenue retrieving the first one too both of em cold double disc album front to back bangers he keep that shit 1000 spiting about real life shit and still keep it street when i dont wanna hear a whole album about cars clothes bitches i listen to e40 cuz he got all that on there and more with positive messages and outcomes of poor decisions he is HIP HOP PERIOD Sprinkle Me!!!!

  • mr. jones

    this nigga got some wack rapping style yo. but props for slugging it out this long.

  • INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PANCAKES

    E40 WAS A MILLIONAIRE B4 HE WAS 21 BCUZ HIS MUSIC SOLD LIKE HOTCAKES. GTFO W/ YOUR IGNORANCE. YOU SOUND LIKE YOU ARE MISSING 10 CHROMOSOMES. HE IS A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO RAP AND DESERVES A MONOLITH WHEN HE DIES. E-40 HAS DEPTH N YOUR BRAIN IS STICKING TO THE FRYING PAN. A KITCHEN OF SPATULAS TRYING TO GET YOUR BRAIN OFF THE FRYING PAN. SCRAPING. SCRATCHING. NOTHING'S HELPING. YOU'RE COOKED AND GREASED AND LOW WATT GURGLING. 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS.

  • Guest

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koN-yF4ySQs&feature=related Skywalker - Barton Block

  • Bill Drake

    E-40s key to longevity is refusing to accept the fact that your music is wack, your rap style is retarded and ignoring the fact that you're irrelevant and even in the 90s your records wouldnt sell. Do me and everyone else a favor and retire and give your spot to substantially better MCs from the West Coast like BLU and Crooked I among countless others

    • Anonymous

      Take that weak ass Crooked outta there who isn't able to build a career in decades. He has tons of material but is scared to drop it, cause he sure knows that it will flop.

    • Bill Drake

      I just finished having a heated convo with my cousin and he told me I'm a lame ass hating ass nucca for that. The point he made was as long as you have fans and people who love ya music give them what they want regardless of what anyones opinion of them is. So I truly salute E-40 Real Talk. Keep giving the fans what they wanna hear Big Homie

    • Bill Drake

      @Anonymous: You know what you're right. He is truly a West Coast pioneer and widely-regarded a legend and deserve more respect than I gave him. It's only my opinion. I dont like his music but I cant deny he's put an entire coast on his shoulders and help keep them relevant. And he do rock the hell outta live shows too. So to the legacy of E-40, I apologize. But longevity nowadays, consists of nothing more than recording music and posting it on the internet ask Soulja Boi and Lil' B. And I still think Blu and Crooked are the best things to happen to the West Coast since The Death Row era affiliated artists came out. I respect legends but I see Blu and Crooked currently as his competition and in that regard RIGHT NOW. BLUs has earned my supported at being the Best in the West

    • Anonymous

      @Bill Drake: You sound like a fool cause you go back to the 90's In a major way, hall of game, and the click's hurricane album sold. So what the fuck are you talking about? Why dont you have more respect for a legend in the game. You trying to compare crooked I to E-40? Nigga please I bet half the rappers that careers are over with wish they had 40's longevity.

    • jesterdxxl

      I can only think of 4 who are still relevant/known LL, Rakim, Cube & Dre

    • Skee

      Call him whack but you can count the number of rappers on 1 hand that been in the game that long and still remain revelant. Yes there are new young cats but how long does the average rapper last? 5 years? 2? U ain't gotta like him but u gotta respect him

  • its called luck

    e40s key to longevity to the game is called luck and doing sell out songs with main stream artists. this dude went hard in the 90s. charlie hustle was his best work, but when he started doin snap yo fingas type songs with lil jon and t pain he turned wack but he is still here

  • edubb1977

    E-40 one of my favorites. The o.g. deserves his props.

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