It was a star-studded evening at Tru Nightclub in Hollywood as E-40 celebrated the release of his 16th solo album, The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil, Pt. 4, 5 and 6.
The place was packed with fans and VIPs, from star athletes like Donovan McNabb and Gary Payton to fellow MCs like Warren G, Mistah F.A.B., Krizz Kaliko and Freddie Gibbs. Even Suge Knight and came through to pay respects to the big homie Earl Stevens.
As for what fans can expect from the new album: The venerable MC says these are simply the next chapters of his audio-biography.
"It's just a continuation from the Block Brochure 1, 2 and 3," E-40 told BET.com. "I'm still just telling my story, still narrating and commentating."
40 has had a stranglehold on the NorCal hip hop hotbed for 25 years. In addition to an unmistakable linguistic fluidity, 40 has always kept his name young by working with the hottest new talent of the time. The Sick Wid It Records CEO says younger artists look at him as both a friend and a mentor.
"A lot of these [younger artists] is my good friends, you know what I'm sayin'? And they do look up to me as a mentor," he said. "I ain't one of them OGs that's like, 'Man I ain't workin' with them young cats, man, f--k them I'm from the old school.' I'm not like that, 'cause we can help each other out. We can scratch each other backs, you know what I mean? There's a lot of talent from the Bay area and southern California."
40 has never been one to lack self-assurance, but the West Coast vet admits that his career has surpassed even his own lofty expectations.
"When I first started rapping, I didn't know it would get to the point where I was gonna go into multiple albums like this," 40 confessed. "I always wanted to do 'em but I didn't know it was gonna go into just album after album. I just don't stop, you know, I just roll with it," he added.
40 has never stopped or even slowed down when it comes to rapping and cultivating new talent from the Bay Area as a label head. When the "Hyphy" movement garnered nationwide attention, the entertainment magnate says egos prevented a lot of careers from flourishing.
"I tried to sign anybody in the Bay, especially in '07 when we had that big boom with the 'Hyphy'movement," 40 recalled. "People were telling me, 'You need to sign all these cats and put 'em up under your umbrella and take it there,' and I tried to, but cats was big-headed. They felt like they was gonna be on forever cause they had one song at the time."
Regardless of whether or not the Bay is in the mainstream spotlight, 40's success and hustle have never wavered.
"I just keep moving 'cause I always make me money," the "Tell Me When to Go" rapper pointed out. "I did it, of course with a group called The Click, I always had Sick Wit It Records, but the main dude that made me money in the past is an artist by the name of Celly Cel. That's my loved one to this day. His album Killa Kali sold like 420,000 units."
A lot has happened in hip hop over the last 25 years, but one of the few constants has been E-40. In terms of both commercial success and overall respect, the boisterous big man has been the model of hard work and consistency. But according to 40 himself, the region that raised him deserves just as much of the credit for his longevity.
"The Bay is what raised me, and we ahead of our time. Every region ain't cut like that. It's the Bay all day."
(Photo: Ethan Miller/BET/Getty Images for BET)