“Digital scale, green eggs and hams / Yams, candy yams, spam, damn! / Loaded, my cheese, peanut butter and jam / Sammich, mannish, me and my Hispanics / Vanish, talkin’ in codes like we from different planets”—E-40, “The Slap“
California rap royalty E-40 is known for a lot of things—his (non-prescription) glasses, his longevity (he’s been relevant in music for more than 20 years now), and his new wine label. But his greatest contribution to hip-hop culture may be his trendsetting use of language. Taking ever-colorful Bay Area slang and sprinkling it with his own linguistic flights of fancy, he’s either coined or helped to popularize lingo ranging from now-ubiquitous phrases (“you feel me,” “it’s all good,” “fo’ shizzle”), to uber-niche patois such as “chalupa” and “Captain Save a Hoe.”
One thing I’ve noticed being a fan of Forty of the years is that a lot of his lyrics revolve around food and drink. He must know more cheeses than any other rapper—money is everything from “gouda” to “mozzarella” in his rhymes—and he’s the only artist I’ve ever heard reference Chablis in a rap (on “Carlo Rossi“). Besides Ghostface and MF Doom, few artists have lyrics that are so densely packed with words that could seemingly mean both nothing and everything at the same time.
“Everything that I say—99% of it—means something,” Forty told me when we had a chance to sit down recently. And so we put him to the test, combing through his lyrics for food references to find out whether they were more than just slick-talking mumbo-jumbo. Turns out, he wasn’t lying—when it comes to E-40 slang, everything’s got a story.
Watch the video above to see E-40 break down the origins of food-related slang terms like gouda, broccoli, and cupcaking.
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