E-40 is inventive and entertaining on “The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil Parts 4,5 & 6.” But the 45-song set often drags due to formulaic, forced songs.
Unquestionably one of the most prolific, quotable and influential artists to ever come out of the West Coast, E-40 is now officially 20 solo albums deep in the Hip Hop game with his latest outing in The Block Brochure: Welcome To the Soil Parts 4, 5, & 6. And while he’s arguably running neck and neck with Snoop Dogg as the West’s most longevity-laden artist, unlike Snoop, 40 Water hasn’t had to resort to gimmicks, reality television and mainstream media leanings to have a successful catalog that’s over two decades long. Instead, the Vallejo, California emcee has managed to stick to a solid blueprint of palpitating, Bay Area-styled production and his own unmatched vocabulary of slang.
One of the main talents that has set E-40 apart from many of his contemporaries for so long is his distinct ability to find a solid balance between the larger-than-life West Coast persona he’s conveyed on records since the late ‘80s and the everyday people realism that comes naturally to him. On Welcome To The Soil Part 4, that talent is most pronounced on “Got That Line,” which finds 40 combining his greatest asset in his breakneck speed delivery with a pulsating, mob music slice of production, spitting lines like, “Survival tactics, never hustlin’ backwards / Throw off methods why I wear these glasses / So I can look like a nerd, po-po roll right past us, savage ass nigga from the gravel…” “Bendin Corners” contains some of his most intricate and witty slang on the entire project: “I go ape on a fake if that’s what he want, I’m not a chump / I’m from Vallejo, Cali-Harm-ya, I ain’t no punk / D-boy apparel, candy Camero / Sharp like a arrow, hood like Valero…”
“Bamboo” features a chunky stomp-and-clap backdrop that allows for 40 to get as wordy and raunchy as he pleases, managing to easily squeeze what seems like hundreds of extra syllables into just a few bars. “By Any Means” with Webbie and J. Stalin is one of the bleaker songs on the set in terms of subject matter, but it is strangely overlayed with a somewhat celebratory, danceable beat, containing brief robotic sound effects. It’s proof that E-40 has one of the most inventive and unorthodox ears for production in Hip Hop history. The Chris Brown and T.I.-assisted “Episode” is reminiscent of Rick Ross’s “Diced Pineapples” in its raunchy forwardness, but actually a more entertaining song altogether. And though the Roger & Zapp-inspired “Money On My Mind” comes off as somewhat bland compared to some of the more inventive, risk-taking moments on Part 4, it still succeeds as an attempt at throwback nostalgia.
It’s clear from the majority of Part 4 that E-40 hasn’t lost a step in his 20-plus years of creating and releasing music. Throughout much of this project’s first installment, listeners will hear tons of thick, syrupy sound effects paired with pounding drums—all elements that have been part of 40’s signature sound for the last two decades and have heavily influenced generations of artists from all parts of the map. RELEASES