Music Review: E-40 - Practice Makes Paper

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On record and in conversation, E-40 remains the same—free-flowing, wise, hilarious, and unstoppable. Ever since he emerged from Vallejo, California in the 1980s, he has churned out high-quality albums with ease. And yes, some of the 26tracks on Practice Makes Paper, his 24th or 26th solo release, depending on how you keep count, are merely average, or at worst, trite. But nothing this man does is half-baked, and the most surprising thing about the latest multi-volume addition to an already-intimidating discography is that most of the songs are actually pretty good.

The sprawling double album is E-40’s follow-up to 2018’s lean, 38-minute The Gift of Gab. While that record kept a laser focus on the funk-influenced sounds 40 does best, Paper is considerably more ambitious, inviting artists from across the map to get hyphy. The guest list is dizzying: There are certified stars like Migos’ QuavoWiz KhalifaRick Ross, and TDE’s ScHoolboy Q, but also Houston City Council candidate Scarface. The West Coast is well-represented, with G-EazyTy Dolla $ignIamsu! from HBK, and the 20-year-old Compton MC Roddy Ricch, but so is Detroit (Tee Grizzley, Payroll Giovanni, and Sada Baby) and New York (FabolousMethod Man, & A$AP Ferg).

Some of these collaborations bear ripe fruit. Payroll Giovanni’s stone-cold verse on “I Come From The Game” evokes E-40 compadre Too $hort. “Chase the Money,” (produced by... ChaseTheMoney) shows 40 flipping a Migos flow harder than his guest Quavo. On “I Don’t Like Em,” 40 recruits Bay area MCs Cousin Fik & Laroo to channel Chief Keef and Silky Johnson’s love for hating over a trapped-out G-funk beat.

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Linda J