E-40's Latest EP, Poverty And Prosperity Ranked From Best Song to Worst

If you checked Twitter last Friday morning, you might have noticed that E-40 dropped a new EP. (Seriously, the Twitterverse was going insane over this new drop from Big Earl). Somehow, whilst making appearances on other artists' albums (like G-Eazy's When It's Dark Out and Ty-Dolla Sign's Free TC), working on his upcoming albums, Sharp On All 4 Corners Volume 3 and 4, and gearing up for the December release of his line of malt liquor, he found time to churn out Poverty and Prosperity, which is no small feat. In an Instagram post, E-40 even admitted that he's been really busy of late, but added that “the Good Lord tapped [him] on the shoulder and gave [him] an assignment.” That assignment, which came in the form of Friday's X-track release, was to “speak to the people,” he wrote, “tell it like it is and call it how you see it.”

Unlike his last EP, October's Choices (Yup) remix tape, Poverty and Prosperity features all new, original work from the rapper, most of it about his childhood and growing up on the 1300 block of Vallejo's Magazine Street. Granted, since he started his career back in 1986, he's dropped 22 studio albums and too many singles and mixtapes to count, so this EP is just another drop in the bucket for him. But for 40 fans, it's a big deal. It's been one year since his last album and this summer's catchy, hypnotic anthem, “Choices (Yup),” only made fans hungrier. 

Because of the turnover here (if you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this post), All Shook Down is only now getting a chance to review this seven-track project. But better late than never, right? Below, we've ranked the songs from best to worst, so check it out and let us know what you think in the comments. 

1. “Gamed Up” featuring Rayven Justice
This song is easily (and by leaps and bounds) the best track on the EP. It's 100% pure hyphy, replete with all the boom-bap and synths that fans have come to love and expect from Mr. Earl Stevens. This catchy tune, which is so energetic it could be played at clubs (and probably is), features Oakland-crooner Rayven Justice (who came out in 2013 with the undeniably fire single, “Slide Thru”). Rayven Justice's velvety smooth, Chris Brown-esque voice is a nice foil to 40's bouncier vocals. Plus, the lyrics are great, too. E-40, as the song goes, is “gamed up,” meaning he's been around long enough to have seen it all, heard it all, and learned it all. He know's what's up and he's the wiser because of it. And, considering how long Forty Water has actually been in the game, you can't deny the truth behind these lyrics. 

2. “God Take Care of Babies and Fools” featuring B-Legit and Work Dirty
This track, which is sprinkled with a bit of hyphy and a bit of gangsta rap, makes it to second best mainly because it actually sounds like E-40. It's a bit sinister (and for some reason makes me think of someone walking down an empty alley, constantly glancing behind their back, as if they're paranoid about being followed), but it's a solid track, nonetheless. The beat is simple and measured, and the fact that 40 got fellow Vallejo rappers, B-Legit and Work Dirty, on the song is pretty cool. Because if there's one thing to say about E-40 (aside from the fact that he has an insane voice and makes some bizarre business deals), it's that he's always helping out others, especially when they come from his hood. For his latest protege, check out Nef The Pharaoh's single, “Big Tymin.”

3. “Magazine Street” featuring Park Ave. 
“Funky” is perhaps the best adjective to explain this song. Rather than sound like E-40, this song sounds like the opening song for a blaxploitation film from the '70s, flutes and all. As the title hints, it's about 40's childhood growing up on Magazine Street, which keeps with the theme of the EP. The only thing not working about this song is Park Ave.'s voice. He sounds like Bobby Womack on steroids.

4. “The Way I Was Raised” featuring Mike Marshall
This song has a lot of potential. E-40 could have taken it to that next level, but he didn't. It's lacking something, but what? A more upbeat hook? A drop? More boom? Less bap? Maybe it's the even-tone of it that's bothersome. The song just goes on and on without changing. It's cool that 40 has somehow contrived a way to write yet another song about “the way [he] was raised,” but by this point, it's getting a bit trite and overdone. He gets props for using Berkeley-singer Mike Marshall, though.  

5.  “The End” featuring Kris Kalizo
This symphonic, melodramatic song, which opens with what sounds like a verse from the Bible, is undeniably fitting for the last song on the album. It's piano-heavy, dark, and lugubrious. There's a foreboding quality to the instrumentals that meshes well with Kris Kalizo's wailing voice on the hook. But, still, it's more like a wrap-up than a real song. Just like “The Way I Was Raised,” this, too, is lacking something.

6. “I'm Serious” featuring Park Ave.
If this list was ranked funniest to least funniest song, then “I'm Serious” would be ranked at number one. Despite the song's title (and chorus), it's incredibly hard to take this cheesy, corny song seriously. Even E-40's characteristic “ugh” sounds hilarious in the context of this song — which, by the way, goes, “I'm serious/ About my money/  I'm serious/  You know I'm always on my grind/ I'm serious/ About my money/ I'm serious/ I'm gonna get money 'till I die.” The only thing serious about this song is its commitment to the funk. There's so much disco-infused melody to this song that I feel like I should be wearing bell bottoms and an Afro just to listen to it.

7. “Appreciation” featuring Bosko “Appreciation” is easily the worst song on Poverty and Prosperity. It's the kind of song you only want to listen to once and then hopefully never again. Also, it's not rap or hip-hop in the least. Instead, it sounds like the closing credits to a movie or the last song at a dance. It's slow. It's full of guitar. And it's incredibly boring. Practically every line has an echo to it, which is also dumb. I hope now that this post is over, I never have to listen to it again. 

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