Matthew Africa, an Oakland-based intellectual property lawyer by day and meticulous DJ by night, just dropped Yay Game, a 40-song mix spanning the career of E-40 in honor of the rapper's three Block Brochure albums coming out on March 27.
The trip through two decades of the Yay Area Ambassador's music reveals a wide variety of rhyming patterns and a penchant for deep storytelling. As 40 famously says on 2002's "Automatic," he's had to "slow down his spit so you squares can understand it" -- and many of the earlier cuts contain dizzying tongue-twisters and ear tornadoes.
"I think because a lot of his recent hits are very club-oriented and hedonistic, people overlook how much wisdom he imparts in his rhymes," says Africa. "Even when he's rapping about partying or acting bad, there's always an undercurrent of observation, wit and common sense. I mean, I wouldn't recommend anyone getting their life lessons solely from rap music, but you could do a lot worse than lines like, "If you gon' be a fool, be a fool, shit/ Just know when to act a fool and who to act a fool with," or, "Don't buy an $85,000 car before you buy a house," or "I ain't gonna kill nothing and I ain't gonna let nothing die.""Embarrassingly enough, I really did not get E-40's music at first," he continues. "I mostly ignored his first few records, I think, because I had some misconceptions about the content of his music and his vocal style just seemed weird to me, what with all his fluctuations in tempo, meter, and pitch. It didn't really click for me until I heard 1995's "Sprinkle Me," which kicks off by rhyming hippopotamus, neurologist, Nautilus and 2Pacalypse. It was just so fun, off the wall, and inventive that it instantly made me want to go back to find out what I'd been missing." Africa hosts a special release party for Yay Game on March 26 at 10 p.m. at Som Bar for a party called Slap City! Admission is $2.