I don’t know why the intro; a disclaimer in which E-40 lets listeners know the violent “mob music” he makes is solely for entertainment; is Scotch-taped to the beginning of the first song instead of being listed as a track of its own, but that technical blunder is the only major flaw of this six-song set.
Neva Broke, that first song, is a P-Funk-like banger about armed robbery; the point is that all a poor man needs is a “strap” (gun) to make money; while Bring The Yellow Tape, another crime story, deals in premeditated murder. Other highlights include Where The Party At and Captain Save-A-Hoe.
my rating : 4 of 5
The problem here is Problem. His apathetic (garbage) vocal delivery, specifically on the hook; I hate the way he says “Ooooh” and that he continues to rap after saying he’s “out”; ruins what could’ve been a decent song.
The obvious highlight, aside from the way the beat plays (out) at the end, is E-40. “Never reveal your enforcers; make them think that you’re nervous,” he advises, “not knowing you active duty, more guns than The Service.”
my rating : 1 of 5
E-40 is one of the most entertaining rappers in the game. 2Pac was kind of boring in comparison, but The Element Of Surprise doesn’t match the quality of his double-length magnum opus. 40’s flamboyant wit is better than ever, but the set eventually falters.
Lieutenant Roast-A-Botch; a funny duet with Sylk-E Fyne; Jump My Bone and One More Gen are definite highlights, but most of the other songs on the second half should’ve been cut. That would’ve made this a standard album and probably E-40’s best one yet.
my rating : 3 of 5
The worst songs here suggest even the most charming rappers need matching beats to keep things interesting. Too much of this album is E-40, now under the wing of Lil Jon, over bare-bones 808-driven breakbeats, which’ll have supporters of San Francisco’s Hyphy movement bobbing their heads in approval while the rest of us long for the days when a new E-40 album basically assured some of the dopest beats the streets have to offer. Those days aren’t long gone. Grit And Grind from just a few years ago gave us Gravity, probably the best beat I’ve ever heard him rap to.
Elsewhere potential bangers are ruined by weak hooks, though E-40 also uses this album to step his lyrical game up. Breakin News had him holding his wit at bay, but for this one, he utilizes metaphors and similes to drop a shitload of quotables. “Old-school vans; doors open; me and my crew,” he says at one point, “We some stoners; we get high like Shaggy from Scooby Doo”. The best songs standout because the quality of the beats and hooks match the quality of those verses. When all’s said and done, sticking to the school Report Card concept, a former B student earns himself another C.
my rating : 3 of 5