Earl Stevens (born November 15, 1967) better known by his stage name E-40, is an American rapper, entrepreneur, and investor from Vallejo, California. He is a former member of the rap group The Click, and the founder of Sick Wid It Records. He has released over ten albums, appeared on numerous movie soundtracks, and has also done guest appearances on a host of other rap albums. Initially an underground artist, his 1995 solo album In a Major Way opened him up to a wider audience. Beginning in 1998, he began collaborating with more mainstream rappers outside of the Bay Area. He rose to even higher mainstream popularity in 2006 with his single "Tell Me When to Go" which was produced by Lil Jon.
E-40 made his rap debut in 1990, with the EP Let's Side as a member of The Click. The EP was co-produced by Mike Mosley and Al Eaton and was released on Sick Wid It Records, an independent label founded by E-40. In 1992 they released second album, Down and Dirty, and in 1993 E-40 made his solo album debut. Federal, a nine-track LP/14-track CD produced by Studio Ton and released by Sick Wid' It Records in association with SMG (Solar Music Group), a regional distributor. After a talent show at Grambling State University, the emcee and his cousin B-Legit decided to attempt a career in rap. Together, and with his sister Suga-T, they released their 1993 mainstream radio hit Captain Save a Hoe. They moved back to Vallejo and teamed up with D-Shot, E-40's brother, to form the group MVP or Most Valuable Players. E-40's gospel singing uncle (Saint Charles) helped them put out the record. Suga-T was then added to the group to form The Click. Synonymous with Bay Area rap, E-40 garnered a regional following, and eventually a national one, with his flamboyant raps, while his entrepreneurial spirit, embodied by his homegrown record label, Sick Wid' It Records, did much to cultivate a flourishing rap scene to the east of San Francisco Bay, in communities such as Oakland and his native Vallejo. Along with Too Short, Spice 1, and Ant Banks, E-40 was among the first West Coast rappers to sign a major-label deal, penning a deal with Jive Records in 1994, after years of releasing music independently. Thus, six additional solo albums were to follow, beginning with In a Major Way in 1995 as well as remastered versions of E-40's independent Sick Wid It recordings from previous years. In a Major Way was regionally well-received, with guest spots by such rappers as Tupac Shakur and Mac Mall, as well as his son Droop-E. Although having a large following within West Coast, E-40 did not have a large mainstream audience, so only two of his songs released under Jive Records, "1-Luv" featuring Levitti and "Things'll Never Change" featuring Bo-Roc, charted on the Billboard Hot 100. He had been working nearly exclusively with rappers from the Bay Area until 1997, when he released the double disc compilation Southwest Riders featuring exclusively rap acts from the Bay Area and the south. His collaboration with southern rappers continued in 1998, when he was given guest appearances on albums by Southern rappers, including Lost by Eightball, and MP Da Last Don by Master P.