E-40

The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil, Pts. 1-3

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Much in the same way he released his 11th and 12th albums in 2010, and his 13th and 14th albums in 2011, E-40's 15th, 16th, and 17th albums were all released on the same day. That may look prolific, but The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil 1, 2, or 3 -- or this three-CD set that boxes them all -- is proof that almost every E-40 mixtape you've seen is a bootleg and that in 2011, "getting paid" is at the top of the rapper's list. Otherwise, the Bay Area's slang king would actually acknowledge this epic undertaking somewhere toward the beginning of the set, but the first disc kicks off with the good and small "Fast Lane," a standard issue trunk rumbler that has "mixtape" written all over it. Worthy bangers like the Juicy J and 2 Chainz feature "They Point," the "yes I can" "Can You Feel It!" with B-Legit, and the draped-up and dripped-out anthem "What's My Name" all follow on the fist disc, plus you get the wicked cheap thrills of "Let's F*ck" featuring the freak of any week, Gangsta Boo. The second disc features the glorious backseat number "Tryna Get It" with Twista and T-Pain, and two numbers later, it's like the old-school returned with a full clip, as Spice 1 and Celly Cel join for the superior gangster number "The Other Day Ago." Minimal bass and scrappy attitude turns "Function" into a five-star pusher anthem, while "Zombie" finds Tech N9ne's love of monsters and E-40's endless bag of slang-filled punch lines combining for that special brand of horror hyphy that was explored on 2011's great Revenue Retrievin': Graveyard Shift. On the third disc, "Jealous" stomps majestically and purposefully over those who want to see the motormouth fall ("You want me to pass the baton?/Come and take it from me!"). Two tracks later, it's the West Coast dream team with Snoop Dogg, Daz, Kurupt, and Kokane joining E-40 and channeling Rick James for the slow and funky "What You Smokin' On." Coming toward the end are interesting collaborations with comedian Katt Williams and the Hieroglyphics crew while the giant, bright soul that fuels "Sidewalk Memorial" brings a worthy exit for a project so impossibly huge, although most everything else is thrown about. The material is still strong, but when compared to the Revenue Retrievin' onslaught, which was sorted into thematic sets (Day, Night, etc.), these unwieldy Block Brochures come off as a hyphy data dump, leaving all executive production up to the listener.

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