E-40, In A Major Way
A Bay Area stylist announces a funnier, flyer era of West Coast hip-hop
There are few rappers as idiomatic and iconoclastic as E-40. Godfather of the Bay Area rap scene and a genuine slang innovator, Vallejo's 40 Water lords over tracks with his harrumphing, halting flow — he enunciates as if defying preconceptions about rappers' mumbling, fumbling ways with the English language. In A Major Way is considered his commercial breakthrough, but as the Bay's national relevance ebbs and flows, it remains a rarely namedropped document. It's a shame, because it is both a vision of technical skill and a rolling goof of an album. Hearing E-40 trade punchlines with his sister, the relentless Suga-T is a twisted delight. As Death Row's stonefaced reign began to wane, the playful and playalistic 40 represented more fun (and maybe more finesse) than his forbearers. This is the best of his early period.