August 2, 2016

My First Reaction: E-40 - Tha Hall of Game (October 29, 1996)

While E-40's In a Major Way wasn't my first time listening to E-40, it certainly taught me that there is more to E-40. A lot of what was wrong in E-40's In a Major Way mostly comes down to the often inconsistent nature of the beats. E-40's rapping on his previous album was exceptional and I hope to see more of the same on this album. By looking at the album sales it says that this is E-40's highest charting album so I hope that is an indication that the beats are good on this album. I have noticed (while not an absolute truth) that the higher the album is on the charts the higher the likelihood of it having good instrumentals. This albeit dumb theory I have will be put to the test right about now...

1. Record Haters (Rasheed Wallace & AZ Diss) (Featuring Big Lurch & Calvin Hightower)
This should only listened to once and not once more. In this song E-40 disses Rasheed Wallace and AZ but unfortunately it seems like most of E-40's lines aren't really too memorable with the exception of his wordplay of being Rasheed Wallace's elder and with some other line about AZ being on his "rest in piss list", which was pretty damn funny. I guess there's a reason the beef between E-40 and AZ isn't really well known. At first I thought the beat was boring but then it grew slightly on me... slightly its still bad though. This song in general is pretty bad... besides the hook.

2. Rapper's Ball (Featuring Too Short & K-Ci)
I really tried to like this song; I really did! This song is just so damn boring though! The beat is much too simple to be the lead single of the album. Too Short and E-40 have good enough lyrics on here but their energy levels are so low that it doesn't force the beat to come to life. The hook is the best thing on this song and the only real semblance of why I can see this song becoming one of E-40's biggest hits.

3. Growing Up (Featuring Lil E & Shamia McCloud)
The producer of this song should be given a job as a clown because he certainly isn't a producer. This is one of those times you hear a rap song and actually become furious at the beat for being so bad that they bring down some highly interesting lyrics the rapper is spitting (kind of like that feeling for that Kas Soul on Ice album). 

4. Million Dollar Spot (Featuring 2Pac & B-Legit)
The first overall decent song on here but possibly the first song on here where E-40 wanes a bit dropping some lines that are just gross in his first verse. 2Pac is in full thug life mode and spits a clean verse about dropping his enemies. B-Legit comes in with a verse that's bland and uninterested, which is a bit odd to me as he seemed to be one of the standout features on E-40's last album. The beat is the first decent beat on the album, which might actually be raising my opinion of this song more than it should be.

5. Mack Minister (Skit) (Featuring Andre Dow)

6. I Wanna Thank You (Featuring Suga-T)
The beat is actually pretty good on here plus Suga-T sounds tolerable here (perhaps even decent)! What's going on here?! Regardless, E-40 does his thing and the hook is decent enough so we got a good song here.

7. The Story (Featuring Ephriam Galloway)
The beat here is fantastic for E-40's surprisingly introspective lyrics on materialism and little inserts about his life being changed by money.

8. My Drinking Club (Featuring Young Mugzi & Levitti)
The beat here is bouncy and has a thumping bassline to boot. This song is E-40's comfort territory and he delivers accordingly tongue-twisting verses. Unfortunately, the guest rapper (Young Mugzi) is the only thing about this song that isn't up to par, he just feels like a stop-gap before hearing E-40's verses again.

9. Ring It (Featuring Spice 1, Keak da Sneak & Harm)
The beat was inspired by how a phone rings and while that was a pretty interesting concept to entertain, the execution borders on annoying and probably would have caused this song to fail if not for the fact that every rapper on here manages to rap their respective asses off. The concept is that each verse being a different story/conversation. The hook also helps to bring this song up as I found it oddly charming. Overall, I give this song a good rating still because its not like the beat is intolerable.

10. Pimp Talk (Skit) (Featuring Mike Tha Shiek)

11. Keep Pimpin' (Featuring D-Shot)
This song is baaaad.

12. I Like What You Do to Me (Featuring B-Legit)
This song was blander than putting hummus to a sandwich. The verses are just so uninspired and lazy from both E-40 and B-Legit. The beat started okay but it has this feeling that the producer just got frustrated halfway through making the beat and said "good 'nuff". The hook... the lesser said the better.

13. Things'll Never Change (Featuring Bo-Roc)
E-40's verses are really damn good and the beat sets the tone well enough. In fact the chorus is decent too. The only thing is that this song is a bit too close to 2pac's "Changes" with beat being slightly different and the hook almost being the same. That would have been a problem but E-40 spoke about it in an interview that both Pac and E-40 made their own versions of this song to play for each other. Tragically, only E-40 was able to hear both versions of this song. I believe E-40 too because him and Pac were very close to each other.

14. Circumstances (Featuring Luniz, Cold 187um, Kokane, Celly Cel, T-Pup, Yukmouth, and Numskull)
Now there's a lot of names I wouldn't expect seeing here. The Rick Rock beat is decent enough but not anything special but this song is really more of a showcase of which rapper can outshine the other. E-40 doesn't have too good of a verse but ends it well, before going to T-Pup's verse which is legitimately terrifying "way girl burst ya dick and now got ya on one" (what the fuck, is his dick a balloon?), Yukmouth (terrible rap name by the way) comes in next and delivers a pretty good verse, Numskull delivers a verse that does not hold up today at all with all of its dated references to movies people nowadays have wiped from their memories, Celly Cel is in autopilot mode for his verses and clearly doesn't give two shits. Finally for the last verse E-40 returns to spit like 4 lines before disappearing again. Yeah this song was just a massive waste of my time...

15. It Is What It Is (Featuring Kaveo)
The beat is so bland that it makes this song a hopeless cause. Makes me feel bad for E-40 for even trying to rap on this beat as the beat is horrible to rap on with the bpm of it being so unnaturally slow.

16. Smebbin'
This song is E-40's crazier, drunken self personified and is I thoroughly enjoyed how animated he sounds on here. The hook and the beat are perfect matches for E-40's more warped side.

Final Thoughts: E-40's In a Major Way was just overall the better album. It seems that the biggest problem again for E-40 is the production consistency, which unfortunately shoots down my albeit stupidly optimistic theory correlating beats and places in the Billboard charts. The inconsistent production isn't the only thing that plagues this album though, uninspired guest features also play a big role in making this album worse than E-40's previous effort. On In a Major Way guests like B-Legit and Celly Cel both had really good chemistry with E-40 but on this album it seems as if the someone added a toxic chemical causing the chemistry to explode causing the lazy and boring verses both guests gave to E-40. On a mini-rant lazy guest features are dumb as shit, it doesn't make any sense! Some rappers would literally kill to be featured on a commercial album release and for some rappers to release some tepid bullshit as one of their only chances to widen their audience. Regardless of all of its flaws I would still come back to some songs on this album.

Best Tracks: "The Story", "My Drinking Club", "Smebbin" (even though my personal favorite track I realize that this might not be everybody's cup of tea), "Ring It", "I Wanna Thank You"

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