With four albums in two years, Earl “E-40” Stevens’ grind is irrefutable, and his friends respect it. While there are over 20 different appearances on Revenue Retrievin’: Graveyard Shift, those appearances mesh masterfully with E-40 and the concept of the project. On tracks, like “Fried” the Tech N9ne assist proves to be one of the albums highlights. The same can be said for Turf Talk and DB Tha General on “The Streets Don’t Love Nobody.” Calling back to The Click with B-Legit, chemistry on “43” is brilliant. While, Bun B and Slim Thug on “Candy Paint” give 40 his most radio accessible track since “Tell Me When To Go.” Rarely do projects benefit from such an enormous guest list, but E-40 manages to bring a collection of artists that complement his 20-plus year wisdom within Hip Hop.
Graveyard Shift‘s strength lies in E-40’s lyrical display. From top to bottom, it maybe 40’s most consistent effort behind the microphone since the Jive Records days. Lyrics like, “After the perfect push-up, she gets me off like a shake weight” showcase the humor that’s made 40 an emcee’s emcee. He stays true to the album’s concept of endurance and restlessness, and nothing feels out of place and when necessary he drops jewels on the listener as well. Tracks like, “Serious” kick Bay Area realities. “I’m a long way from being recession proof” sums up the hardships he tackles on the track. Nearly 20 years since Federal, 40 remains more than able to capture the resiliency of a hustlers grind. When T-Pain sings on the hook “Don’t underestimate me/ a couple of days will be all it takes me” 40 and T-Pain avoid creating the cliché D-Boy anthem. “Serious” could be the anthem for single mothers, nine-to-fivers, or your street pharmacist, all at once.
While 40 consistently does work behind the microphone, the same can’t be said for the board work. Whereas My Ghetto Report Card excited fans with a charged new Sik Wid It sound, Graveyard Shift is mired in a la carte beats. Seemingly every track starts and gives the listener great hope, but the crescendos happen early. Unfortunately, the production never takes off and while 40’s flow and intensity builds, the production more times than not falters. There are exceptions, such as “Fried,” “E Forty” and a butter smooth “Candy Paint” yet the listener is left with the inevitable feeling of “what if?”
Like the old In Living Color sketch “Hey Mon,” E-40 boasts about his many jobs in the last several years: an emcee, a father, a franchise owner, a label exec and a mentor to many. Revenue Retrievin’: Graveyard Shift is a quality album that’s at the top of the swarm of recent releases for the Vallejo vet. It’s an ensemble effort that calls back to the days of The Click, as well as recognizes new voices influenced by the slanguage, but nobody steals the show from the host.