The Hype: Local hyphy heads were bound to show up in full force at the Grove on Saturday night to catch Vallejo-born hip-hop legend E-40 ( a.k.a."40-Water") deliver a fresh batch of club banging street tales from his new double album Revenue Retrievin': Day Shift/ Night Shift.
Aside from a deep well of new material, chart-topping jams from 40-Water's landmark album My Ghetto Report Card were a major incentive for baggy-shirted hip-hop heads and tight skirted females to get their freak on with hip-hop's rotund Bay Area ambassador.
The Show: Chest-pounding bass lines rattled the walls of the Grove throughout E-40's brilliant (and brief) set, packed with slick-tonged hyphy classics that reached all the way back to his 1995 debut, In A Major Way. Sporting baggy, red and white gansta garb, 40's explosive set began with instant crowd favorites like "Yay Area" and his slamming, low-end cocaine anthem "White Gurl."
It was almost midnight when 40 finally hit the stage, following about three hours worth of opening acts that ranged from halfway decent to downright terrible. But when he finally made his entrance, all was forgiven. Front row fans happily pressed themselves against the crowd barriers, straining to get close enough to take a decent cell phone picture. Meanwhile, 40 ambled around the stage, chased by an equally gigantic hype man, as he thrust his microphone into to darkness of the clamoring crowd that screamed most of his lyrics line for line. True to his baller image, a diamond-encrusted chain swung from his neck like a pendulum of pimposity.
Tossing out tracks from the Revenue albums, including "Bitch" and "Show Me What U Workin' Wit," 40's command of the crowd stayed solid as streams of sweat dripped from under his backwards ball cap. By the time he got around to busting out some of his old-school tunes like "Sideways" and "Sprinkle Me" from his first album, In A Major Way, the husky MC was visibly winded. However, he managed to save some energy for the old-school fans in the crowd who'd been down with him since the beginning of his career.
Of course the massive crowd eruptions during tracks like "U and Dat," "Tell Me When To Go," were fresh reminder of the chart-topping success he enjoyed from his 2006 album My Ghetto Report Card. Sadly, the only time 40 earned low marks was when the set ended after only 40 minutes on stage. Evidently he takes his rap name very seriously these days. Considering the amount of time fans waited to see him perform--and the number of opening acts they endured--it's amazing there wasn't a riot in the streets.
Anyone who's seen a big-time hip hop headliner at the Grove has witnessed the embarrassment of opening acts who don't have what it takes to woo a restless crowd. Acts like Inland Empire MC Y. Smooth, Maccnifasent
, and OC rappers Grinch and Insanity
(of Locals Only alumni I&I) were the latest victims of an unforgiving audience. Instead of showering praise on them, the audience chose to make it rain on stage with a barrage of spare change, promo CDs and fresh cups of ice. Still, we have to give our boys Grinch and Insanity some props for delivering a respectable set despite the crowd. They even thanked them at the end of the set for making them 50 cents richer. Chris Cravens and the Chise also opened the show.
The Crowd: Throngs of half-dressed ladies intermingled with hip hop heads with wardrobes that ranged from the baggy gangsta apparel of the '90s to today's skinny jean-wearing, over accessorized Day Glo look.
Overheard: One E-40 fan towards the middle of the crowd didn't seem too impressed with the rotation of random MCs to take the stage. Apparently he would have rather seen a little more variety: "Can't they put some fuckin' jugglers up there or somethin'?"