Tha Hall of Game

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After several years on the underground rap circuit, E-40 released his first great album, In a Major Way, in 1995, and a year later he released his second, Tha Hall of Game, a similarly fashioned album that some fans believe is the better of the two. E-40 once again turns to producers Studio Ton, Mike Mosely, and Kevin Gardner, who had worked with him previously, but more importantly, he adds others to his production stable, employing the talents of Bay Area beatmakers Ant Banks, Rick Rock, and Tone Capone. Consequently, the productions of Tha Hall of Game are diverse while, at the same time, stylistically native to the Bay Area. As for featured guests, E-40 also keeps his company regional, employing 2Pac and Spice 1 -- who had previously appeared on In a Major Way -- on "Million Dollar Spot" and "Ring It," respectively, plus Too Short, K-Ci (of K-Ci & JoJo), and Keak da Sneak (then of 3X Krazy). "Player's Ball," featuring Too Short's rapping, K-Ci on the chorus, and a production by Ant Banks, is a clear standout, as is "Things'll Never Change," which became a hit single, thanks partly to its interpolation of Bruce Hornsby & the Range's 1986 number one hit "The Way It Is." The two aforementioned collabos, "Million Dollar Spot" and "Ring It," are also highlights. Though not as solid as In a Major Way, Tha Hall of Game is the more diverse album and includes a handful of career highlights. At any rate, both albums are among the best, if not indeed the hands-down best, of E-40's Jive output, as his subsequent releases for the label became increasingly spotty.

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