Before they introduced the world to the “Hyphy Movement,” Earl T. Stevens and Todd Anthony Shaw, better known by their stage names E-40 and Too $hort, were just two independent rappers. In the late 80s, they began cooking up a new sound that could only come out of California’s Bay Area.
Their flow, sound, sometimes overly explicit lyrics — but most importantly, their hustle — proved to audiences that these two men were going to go about this music industry abiding by their own rules. Over time, both men would eventually cement their spot in hip hop history forever.
The younger generation may know E-40 for his flamboyant rhymes on tracks such as his 2006 mainstream hit “Tell Me When to Go” featuring Keak Da Sneak. However, the rapper made his presence known during his musical debut in 1986 with an EP titled Let’s Side, as one of the members of the rap group the Click. 40 would continue his career as a solo act with his 1993 project, Federal. For nearly four decades, the rapper never showed signs of slowing down. He went on to pump out a total of 26 studio albums and six collaborative projects with another collaborative effort slated to drop on Friday (Dec. 18) titled Ain’t Gone Do It/ Terms and Conditions with his Verzuz challenger.
When it comes to Too $hort, the rapper has become widely popular over the years for his vulgar verses detailing his sexual abilities and street life. He even recorded three albums on his own at the start of his career and sold them out the back trunk of his car well before being signed to a major label in 1988. The emcee went on to earn six consecutive platinum albums before his short-lived retirement in the late 90s. Three years later, he returned with “Can’t Stay Away,” which also went gold, leaving the idea of retirement in the past. $hort is perhaps the only rapper who can brag that they’ve recorded with not only 2Pac, but The Notorious B.I.G. and JAY-Z.
Check out the list below of some of the greatest hits from the two West coast legends ahead of their battle Saturday evening.
1. “Tell Me When to Go”
Following the death of fellow Bay Area legend Mac Dre in 2004, E-40 and Too $hort went on to pick up where he had left off in the Hyphy movement development. With its infectious chorus and head thumping body movements, “Tell Me When to Go” is arguably one of the first songs you think of when discussing the essence of the overly hyperactive era in hip hop.
2. “Blow the Whistle”
This sharp whistleblowing tune made itself an ultimate club banger. No wonder it’s just one of Too $hort’s often-sampled tracks and only one of many ways the rapper’s influence has appeared throughout the genre.
3. “U and Dat”
This record is 40’s highest-charting single as a lead artist to date. Although it’s a West Coast song, it’s heavily saturated with southern hip hop styles and continues to prove that when the rapper and Lil Jon link up, it’s always a hit. Not to mention, T- Pain and Kandi Burruss’ vocals are a match made in hook heaven.
4. “The Ghetto”
When $hort wasn’t talking about one of the many beautiful women he was involved with, he brought attention to the struggles of living in the “ghetto.” He also discussed the nature of his crime-ridden neighborhoods, and the police departments delayed response to it. The song peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard charts following its release in 1990.
No house party in 2015 playlist is complete without this certified gold record from 40’s 16th studio album, The Block Brochure. The remix featured a crazy list of artists including Chris Brown, Young Jeezy, and French Montana just to name a few.
6. “Gettin’ It”
Off his tenth project titled the same name, this song features a sample from Bootsy’s Collins’ “I Rather Be with You.” It’s melodic and mid-tempo funky beat made it a classic “drive to” record.
7. “Snap Yo Fingers”
Crunk music was in full swing with some help from this Lil Jon produced record. Before TikTok dance challenges, folks were snapping their fingers and doing a simple two steps with this one. Best of all, “You could do it all by yourself.”
8. “Shake That Monkey”
As Too $hort put it, the single landed in his hands after asking Lil Jon to appear on one of his popular “chant” songs he played in Atlanta’s clubs. Shortly after, the producer dropped off four tracks including this 2003 twerk anthem.
9. “Rapper’s Ball”
One’s thing for certain about this Verzuz battle, there’s sure to be plenty of songs both E-40 and Too $hort rapped on together. “Rapper’s Ball” displays just one of their many collaborative efforts over their extensive careers.
10. “Burn Rubber”
The rapper goes back to his “Hyphy” roots on this track produced by none other than his frequent collaborator Lil Jon, providing that the movement was making his mark known outside of its Bay Area territory.
This 1999 track is equal parts “mobbing” music, but just as funky. While playing around with voice alternating programs, E-40 laid down a single that talks about everyday living and going to the liquor store, buying swishers, and hanging out with the homies.
12. “Freaky Tales”
Before DMX’s ”What These Bitches Want,” there was Too $hort’s “Freaky Tales.” The self-proclaimed “Oaktown Mack” went down a memory lane on this bass hitting beat, reminiscing on the women of his past and often wild bedroom activities.
13. “Sprinkle Me”
E-40 puts all his skills on the table with his ostentatious flow, but even slicker wordplay. Perhaps one of his first big hits, even before “U and Dat,” the West coast legend “sprinkles” a little over four minutes’ worth of game in this 1995 classic.
14. “Can’t Stay Away”
Too $hort’s attempt at retirement failed. Just after three years of stepping away from the rap game, the Bay Area legend returned with a track that spells things out plain and simple, the emcee just “Can’t Stay Away.” This song was off his 11th album by the same name and his eighth album under Jive Records.