Sleazy West Coast meets the slickest Dirty South on E-40's My Ghetto Report Card, the slang-slingin' rapper's first album for the Warner Bros. family and his first with Lil Jon's Atlanta-based BME crew. With past appearances on Master P and Eightball & MJG tracks, E-40 and the South have always been cool, and while Report Card has Lil Jon written all over it -- literally and figuratively -- E-40 isn't going to forget his beloved Bay Area and its ultra-enthusiastic audience. Actually, Lil Jon seems to be adapting to the Bay more than E-40 is going South. The hooky thumper "Tell Me When to Go" is a great example, with Jon's minimal club track getting Bay Area slanguage spit all over it by 40 and the gravel-voiced great Keak da Sneak. The way the track slides into "Muscle Cars" -- which sounds like a dubbed "Tell Me When to Go" with a Bay-loving freestyle over it -- is Lil Jon in album-building mode. That's his biggest contribution to the rapper's career, giving the E-40 discography the rare solid album without trying to reinvent the man. Tying things to the past, longtime E-40 producer Rick Rock gets plenty of airtime, including the opening "Yay Area," which brilliantly uses a tightly looped sample of Digable Planets' "Rebirth of Slick" to get this quirky, sleazy party started. Oh yes, it is sleazy, with unmentionable but entirely fun tracks keeping things moving in the album's forth quarter. Too bad the maudlin yawner "Happy to Be Here" closes the album, too bad Mike Jones uses his guest shot just to announce the street date of his next album, and too bad "White Gurl" is as much an ode to pushing cocaine as it is to the suburban ladies. The street-loving Bay Area faithful will probably complain more about the sheen Lil Jon lays on some of the club tracks or that "U and Dat" is just Ciara's chart-conquering "Goodies" all over again, but My Ghetto Report Card is hardly a sellout and a little chart ambition can do a fellow like E-40 some good. He's come up with an amazing set of wry, snide, and provocative rhymes for the album, and even if he gives Warner Bros. a shout-out on "Gouda," he's as unrestrained as ever -- if not more so -- everywhere else. First words out of his mouth on the album: "I got my second wind, pimp!" Indeed.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Turf Talk