In a cut throat, down trodden music industry where artist mortality is more likely than success, very few remain relevant with a catalogue as extensive as E-40’s. With over twenty years in the game and fourteen albums to his name, the Bay Area legend is hands down the hustler of all hustlers. Last year, 40 Water gave us a surplus of music to by releasing Revenue Retrievin: Day Shift and Revenue Retrievin: Night Shift alongside one another. Returning to his legion of fans, E-40 is adding onto the series by presenting Revenue Retrievin’: Graveyard Shift and Overtime Shift.
Graveyard Shift begins sleepily with “Barbarian.” Although E-40 drops impressive and humorous lines like “I’ll take my shirt off in this b*tch, stretch marks and all, turn into something, put my back against the wall,” the instrumental is less than barbaric. Unfortunately, this opener is an early indicator on how the rest of the album sounds. Lyrically, E-40 does a pretty decent job on holding his weight on the microphone. Although it fluctuates time to time, E-40 compensates with newcomers from the Bay as well as familiar rap vets and singers. “Serious” featuring T-Pain, for example, is a motivational anthem for everyone on their grind. Here, E-40 displays his rubber band like resiliency despite everyday struggles while T-Pain implores, “don’t estimate me, a couple days is all it’s gonna take me.”
Other standout tracks include “43” featuring B-Legit and “That Candy Paint” featuring Bun-B and Slim Thug. “43” is a laidback, bass heavy jam that has E-40 and Sic Wid It partner-in- rhyme B-Legit going in. Indeed, “43” is one of the very songs on the album that has E-40 rhyming in true form. Here, he spits arguably his best lyrics off the album with lyrics like, “they’re gonna be sleeping with the snails, or worms to be precise, I be fucking with these scales, I got the lowest price, pitiful gaze, you’re a vagabond on ice.” However, the album’s standout song is “That Candy Paint.” This is a certified head banger filled with fantastic lyricism, capable of shaking trunks through the entire neighborhood as you blast it in your ride.
Yet for every two inches 40 advances forward, several stubs on the album lands him four inches back. As previously mentioned, fans will be more disengaged by the production rather than the lyricism, and if it wasn’t for the diverse group of guest appearances sprinkled on the album, Graveyard Shift may have landed in a cherry wood pine box. However, there are exceptions to this rule. “Fried” featuring Tech N9ne, which should’ve been a classic considering the names attached to it, fails due to a weak chorus and even weaker instrumental. Of several tracks that miss the mark due to weak instrumentation, none are as disappointing as “Spooky” and “Don’t Try This At Home,” which suffer due to B-rate production and under par lyricism.
With that said, Graveyard Shift is a mixed bag. There are few artists that can put together a well crafted, avante garde album with twenty songs. Sure the production could’ve been much tighter, but the true Achilles heel on the album is the amount of lackluster songs that you have to sit through. E-40 could’ve easily scrapped the weaker songs off the album, threw them all on a mixtape, and saved the best songs for his fans instead of making two volumes of mediocrity.