Best of E-40: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

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E-40 is a rapper who was long overdue for a best-of collection, which finally came in 2004 when Jive released Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow. The Bay Area eccentric debuted his tongue-twisting style for Jive back in 1994 with the Mail Man EP, so this collection spans an entire decade -- and a busy one at that, given that E-40 put out roughly an album a year over that span. He didn't score many genuine hits over those years, as only a few of his singles broke into the Billboard Hot 100, but his fresh style did influence a legion of rappers who began to emulate his slangtastic rhyming style. So, given E-40's lack of hits, Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow is somewhat of a grab bag. Some of the tracks are clear career highlights: "Carlos Rossi," "Captain Save a Hoe," "Rapper's Ball," "Zoom," and "Automatic" in particular. Others are excellent and exemplary if somewhat unexceptional, likewise the few previously released inclusions that close the compilation. Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow unfortunately misses a number of seemingly obvious highlights, for example the Nate Dogg gem "Nah Nah" from Loyalty & Betrayal or his most-recent single, "Quarterbackin'." There's an emphasis on E-40's early, less-heard albums, which means some may quibble also about the lack of latter-day inclusions. That's all to be expected, of course, for the only way this best-of could be definitive would be if it were a double-disc collection (and even then it'd a bit short of definitive given E-40's especially deep canon and generally consistent level of quality, not to mention his innumerable guest appearances elsewhere). Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow is excellent for what it is, however: a single-disc sampler of E-40's long, influential decade with Jive that rounds up some of his most obvious highlights in the process and leaves others for later discovery.

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