E-40. 2006. Yee. 

Twelve hundred fans storm Emeryville to see the Yay Area's Ambassador.

Mob scene does not begin to describe the E-40 record signing at Tower Records in Emeryville the other day. Mobbin' scene is more like it; it was as if the hyphy movement had descended en masse to a suburban mall previously dominated by the likes of Lane Bryant and Trader Joe's. A line stretched all the way to the Men's Wearhouse, while promo guys from wrapped 4x4s decorated with the visage of the rapper and producer Lil Jon handed out free samples of Crunk energy drink, as the parking lot turned into a scene right out of MTV's My Block. Scrapers parked alongside SUVs, the crowd continued to swell, and the possibility of a full-on sideshow erupting in an Emeryville parking lot seemed imminent.

Outside, hoochie mamas intermingled with "A" students, security guards wearing black windbreakers over khaki vests and cargo pants barked into walkie-talkies, and street promoters passed out fliers advertising club gigs, new underground rap CDs, and East Oakland T-shirt shops. The crowd waited patiently to come to the front of the line, be patted down, placed in another line, then finally let into the store, 25 at a time.

Inside, the scene was contained and celebratory at the same time. Lucky youngsters sporting oversized sunglasses clutched E-40 CD covers, glossy posters, and T-shirts like they were manna from heaven, or at least future artifacts to be cherished and one day, sold on eBay. E-40 was definitely in the building. A man of considerable density (both in a metaphoric and an actual sense), 40's presence was palpable. Like an ancient African king rocking a bejeweled "Sick Wid It" medallion instead of a religious talisman, he sat in front of a display bearing his likeness. With his red wool jacket and matching knit cap, he looked not unlike a dapper, inner-city Santa Claus.

As the scraper-approved slaps of 40's new album, My Ghetto Report Card, played again and again over the sound system, one by one, excited fans approached the table where he held court, to proffer their items to be signed. Graciously, he greeted each like they were old friends. "How you?" he said to one girl, as if they had recently been hanging out. Another young woman asked 40 to sign five CDs she had just purchased. "Good lookin' out," 40 remarked, grinning. Tirelessly, he scrawled in permanent Sharpie on poster after poster: "E-40. 2006. Yee." Several times, when he lingered over a custom-designed airbrushed shirt or took some extra time to pose for a photo, he was reminded by Tower employees there were eight hundred people outside (the actual count, according to Tower's LeRoid David, was closer to twelve hundred). And several times, he replied, "Naw, I don't believe it," with a humbleness not immediately associated with a rap tycoon.

Meanwhile, a small group of stunnas in color-matched sportswear and gold chains — 40's close friends and associates — took in the proceedings, bobbing their heads excitedly when 40's new song "Yee" came on, like it was the national anthem. Two hours into the three-hour event, 40 appeared fatigued, yet bravely soldiered on, taking occasional gulps from a water bottle containing a mixture of Carlo Rossi and Formula 50 Vitamin Water. He was committed to seeing this thing through to the end, giving his loyal fans a chance to parlay with the Yay Area's Ambassador, if only for a brief moment. Diplomatic protocol was observed, and to the relief of the E-Ville police gathered outside, a sideshow didn't jump off.

Tags: ,


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in Culture

  • Fundraising While Black

    Fund for Black Theatre attracts donors—and haters
    • Sep 2, 2020
  • Banding Together

    East Bay cultural organizations unite to lobby for aid
    • Aug 26, 2020
  • The Matter With Muir

    The Sierra Club begins to confront its founder's flaws
    • Aug 12, 2020
  • More »

Author Archives

  • Hiero's Year

    More than twenty years after its formation, the Oakland hip-hop collective is still in sync with its signature Hiero flow.
    • Aug 28, 2013
  • Remembering Matthew Africa

    The legendary East Bay DJ was known for his encyclopedic knowledge of breakbeats.
    • Oct 10, 2012
  • More»

Arts & Culture Blogs

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

The Beer Issue 2020

The Decade in Review

The events and trends that shaped the Teens.

Best of the East Bay


© 2020 Telegraph Media    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation