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E-40: My Ghetto Report Card

E-40: My Ghetto Report Card

Label:Warner Bros.
Release Date:2006
Genre:Hip Hop/Rap

By Jess Harvell | Posted 4/26/2006

E-40 cuts an odd figure for the hot new thing in rap. At 38, the same age as LL Cool J, he could run for president. He’s got a teenage son, Droop-E, who’s picked up the family mic and produces a track on Dad’s new album. He’s an elder statesman (10 albums in 12 years) who’s hardly a household name. He’s a Californian who gets plenty of love from the Dirty South. (Lil Jon produces the bulk of My Ghetto Report Card.) And if you could copyright hip-hop slang, he’d be a very rich man.

My Ghetto Report Card is the portly neologist’s most high-profile project yet, riding a wave of hip-hop goodwill toward the new sound rumbling from the scrapers—that’s a car to us East Coast folks—of the Bay area. Hooking up with Lil Jon and compressing the distance between Atlanta and Vallejo was a canny commercial move. The new Bay sound is, for sake of ease, a Northern Cali take on crunk. Lil Jon’s radio clout may be dwindling, but he can still shift more units than Bay legend Rick Rock, even if Rock’s got better beats. And like all of Jon’s best work, My Ghetto Report Card is for drunkenly shuffling ’round with a cup in each hand.

But an E-40 album is never really about the beats. It’s about a voice that extracts lip-smacking delight from the pleasures of creative pronunciation and a brain that thinks referencing Secret Squirrel and firearms dealing in the same song is perfectly acceptable. What other rapper is going to say he’s “a few tacos short of a combination,” or claim his crew smokes so much weed that “we should take a bath in tomato juice/ ’cuz we always smell like skunk”? Lead single “Tell Me When to Go” rewrites the New Testament: “Jesus Christ had dreads, so shake ’em/ I ain’t got none, but I’m planning on growing some/ Imagine all the Hebrews going dumb/ Dancing on top of chariots and turning tight ones.”

Unfortunately, the star-studded Report Card often makes 40 feel like a guest star on his own album, crowded out by lesser MCs with tamer tongues and low-wattage brains. Keak da Sneak, still sounding like he’s spitting hunks of tarmac instead of words, is always a treat, but Mike Jones shouting out the release date for his new album is a poor substitute for an E-40 verse. And the content occasionally lags behind the wordplay. “White Gurl” is sadly not a paean to the pleasures of Caucasoid booty but yet another string of coke-dealing metaphors. And while better E-40 pushing weight than Young Jeezy—so lazy he can’t even be bothered to rhyme—more powder puns in 2006 is a bummer. “I got my second wind, pimp!” He shouldn’t be wasting it on Juelz Santana collaborations.

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