Five things to know about rapper E-40

  • Earl Stevens, aka E-40, rapper, entrepreneur from Vallejo, one of the biggest rappers in the Bay Area. HO 2013

Flash back to 2006: There's rapper E-40 holding on to his designer glasses on the cover of USA Today while explaining the Bay Area hyphy movement.

"The music makes the kids go silly, go bananas, go coconuts, go stupid," he said.

In a word, hyphy was slang for "hyperactive" coined by Bay Area rapper Keak da Sneak. In a lyric, it was the hip-hop tale of "thizzin'" at shows (taking ecstasy in clubs) and midnight car shows (aka "sideshows") — a narrative that had been building for at least a decade. In a movement, it gave underdog Nor-Cal rappers, often snubbed by commercial rap stations nationwide, the attention they finally deserved.

And on the cover of USA Today, it was proof that hyphy had gone mainstream, landing in driveways all over suburban white America.

By 2008, Bay Area alternative weeklies already were penning "The Demise of Hyphy" manifestos. Now, eight years later, even though the Hyphy Juice energy drink somehow survived, the sound is all played out.

But E-40 keeps rolling, as prolific as ever (although his "40 Water" energy drink tapped out). He was around long before hyphy, selling tapes out of his car trunk in Vallejo. And he'll be around long after its demise.

Before the 46-year-old rapper rolls through the Phoenix Theater on Saturday night, here are the Top 5 things to know about E-40:

1. Born in Vallejo, Earl Stevens grew up on Magazine Street in the tough Hillside neighborhood, hanging with onetime rappers like Mac Dre and Stevens' cousin, B-Legit. Here's how he lived it, immortalized in the song "Hillside":

<em>"Ridin through the turf, on Magazine

You know I stay strapped, with a magazine

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