On this episode of The Fred Minnick Show, the great E-40, the legendary rapper and hip hop artist, joins the show. E-40, whose given name is Earl Stevens, is well known as a pioneer of West Coast rap, the founder of Sick Wid it Records, and a collaborator with artists like Tupac Shakur, Lil Jon, Snoop Dogg and countless others. E-40 also is a purveyor of spirits, from wine to cognac to tequila to his new bourbon brand, Kuiper Belt. During this week’s interview, Earl and Fred sip whiskey (obviously) and discuss topics such as his spirits brands, how hip hop would be different if Tupac was still alive, San Francisco 49ers football, and a lot more.
Russell’s Reserve Barrel Pick (12:34)
Eagle Rare Vintage 1970s (31:48)
Old Schenley Vintage 1940s (53:54)
Fred and E-40 talk about a wide variety of things, such as:
They start things off by talking about E-40’s bourbon, Kuiper Belt 8 Year Whiskey, which Fred calls one of the better sourced bourbons he’s had in some time. Look for more releases coming soon.
Among his many ventures, E-40 even has a cookbook coming out under the moniker Goon With a Spoon.
The first whiskey in the session is a Russell’s Reserve barrel pick, which Fred says has a similar flavor profile to Kuiper Belt. They do a side by side tasting, and E-40 quickly exclaims, “Kuiper Belt got ‘em!”
Fred shifts to talking football, and the recent draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers, of which the Bay-area native E-40 is a big fan. The rapper predicts big things for Trey Lance. Talk then turns to Steve Young and Joe Montana. And then? Colin Kaepernick.
Talk then turns to E-40’s life in the 1990s, when he was making his ascent, along with what he was drinking in those days. Back then, he always mixed bourbon with Coca-Cola. “I wanted it to last all damn day,” he says. “All gas, no brake pads.”
Fred asks what Tupac was drinking during the day, and E-40 offers some interesting commentary at around the 23:00 mark. The choice in those days was Hennessy Cognac. Today? E-40 feels sure it would be his brand, Tycoon Cognac. Why? Because Tupac was all about supporting black-owned business and products.
E-40 mentions that he misses his friend, and also brings up another friend, Biggie Smalls. He and Fred talk about what the hip hop industry would be like if they were alive today. “One thing ’Pac did was uplift the inner-city spirits,” E-40 says. “Whether it was female or male. No matter what you were going through, he had something to say that was going to uplift your spirits.”
Branching off a conversation about family, Fred talks about how the international bourbon community has become a family. At that point, E-40 says, “Can I stop you for a minute? I’m drunk!” He then says, “I’m getting in the studio tonight! I’ll probably write the dopest rap ever.” It’s been a while since Fred has laughed this hard on the show.
As they head into tasting the vintage Eagle Rare, E-40 collects himself and talks about why he likes to help young rappers, such as Jeezy. E-40’s son Droop-E, also a rapper, comes into the conversation, along with the evolution of hip hop.
We briefly get into what would happen if E-40 was a deep sea fisherman on Clubhouse.
He talks about growing up with a single mother – after age 8, at least – and how life for his family was difficult. As the oldest of four, however, he knew he had to “figure it out.” But, he said, “I did it.” They bust out the Old Schenley to toast to E-40’s mom.
Then check out a story about the fate of one of his platinum records, as well as some other personal belongings. It’s a story he clearly is still frustrated by, but he vowed to let it go. Fred responds with a story of his own that turned out better, but was similarly frustrating.
Will Fred ever launch his own bourbon brand? Two or three years ago, he would have said “never.” But covid helped change his thinking. So … maybe.
Fred runs down the history of the nearly 90-year-old Old Schenley, noting that it was likely distilled by a distillery who was born in the 1800s, with corn that was different from the days, different water, first-grow barrels, etc. “It’s a taste of history that cannot be replicated,” Fred says.
Fred reiterates that bourbon could change the course of history if only people could reconcile differences face to face over a dram.
E-40 offers this toast to Fred’s previous guest, singer-songwriter Bailey Bryan, who chose Kuiper Belt as her favorite of the show: “I ain’t above you, I ain’t below you, but I’m right beside you. Cheers, playa.”
E-40 heads off to the studio to record vocals “on like a light switch.” He starts his sign-off toast with, “It’s natural like an afro, baby.”
Be sure to stick around to listen to the outtake in which Earl talks about why he named his bourbon line Kuiper Belt.
Earl “E-40” Stevens, on Tupac Shakur: “Everybody wants to know what got him in trouble. He’d say it’s his big, fat mouth. Because he wouldn’t give a fuck what he said, you feel what I’m saying?”