Who Won the E-40 vs. Too $hort Verzuz Battle?
By JC Carlston
I was minding my own business on a Monday morning, cycling through my typical covid routine of firing up the coffee and eating the rest of whatever food showed up at my door the night before. That’s when I saw it front and center, live on the Jalen and Jacoby show on ESPN nationwide: E-40 aka 40 Water aka Earl Stevens The Goon with the Spoon was taking on the one and only Todd Shaw aka $hort Dog aka Sir Too $hort “don’t say it twice”, in a Versuz Battle live that upcoming Saturday night. Two overlapping staples of my coming of age were about to be played out live right in front of me. Two of the musicians who most influenced my adolescence were about to go head to head. I was instantly overcome with a giddiness from my youth yet also completely torn right down the middle (Please read the bottom of this article to learn how these two men shaped my youth).
To prepare for the battle of two Bay Area heavyweights, I had to hit the corner store under my building for a fill up but unfortunately the Mad Dog 20/20’s and the Black Cherry Ciscos of my teens were nowhere to be found and for good reason. The OG’s probably couldn’t find their Cutty Bangs either and this gut is long removed from my 40 swiggin Olde English days but still not above it. Knowing that E-40 has multiple lines of spirits and that the battle was sponsored by Ciroc and Apple, I needed “drank” on hand. I settled with a twelve pack of Pacifico and some Fernet to insure I could still write this once the lingo ladened dust settled. Oh and Mr. 40 Water did not disappoint in both slang and drank, oh boy was he toasty. The sluricane master was on a good one.
You can watch the whole Versus Battle right here.
To start off with, DJs Slowpoke (Short) and Big Vaughn (E-40) set the table and turned on the stove, raising the temperature around the Bay with classics like Souls of Mischief’s “93 Til Infinity” (Oakland), RBL Posse’s “Don’t Give Me No Bammer” (San Francisco) and of course the late Mac Dre (Vallejo) representing all corners of the Yay. You could tell we were in for a “where were you when” kind of night. I was pumped that a national audience was getting down to Bay Area thumpers that we’ve been holding tight to for over 3 decades. San Quinn, Mac Mall, Richie Rich, 3x Crazy, 11-5 the list goes on. The scene was set with both DJ’s stationed in front of two opposing lowriders rocking the classic “Mustard and Mayonnaise” Vogue tires and spoked rims. Bring on the tycoons 40 and $hort.
The King of slang 40 Water did not deviate from the classics dropping gems like “Everywhere like air… The earth is the turf… Ankle low to a centipedes toe… Back up like a sea crab” and my personal favorite and the theme of the evening “Drinking make me think hello!”
$hort stole the fashion aspect of the night with multiple costume changes which showcased an early 90’s classic look of an Oakland A’s green satin Starter jacket and a gold Donkey Rope which, along with Cadillacs, is on par for the Playboy $hort brand. While Too $hort, not a dancer by any means, grooved around, E-40 was in full Bay swag swing with drink in hand – at one point the glassware was eventually subbed out for a styrofoam cup to keep it extra 90’s. And 40 had the dance moves!
The stars showed up in the live comments giving their props to the Bay. Legends like D-Nice of Boogie Down Productions, Busta Rhymes, Questlove of the Roots, Big Boi of Outkast, Fat Joe, Oakland’s own G-Eazy, 112 (yeah you read that right) and B-Real of Cypress Hill. We were blessed with a live on mic appearance from the Mayor of Oakland himself Mistah F.A.B. who’s real name is Stanley which I did not know and only found out about when Too $hort was talking about the Stanley I did know, MC Hammer. Whatchu say? Proper!
The night went on and the Bay Area lessons on independent hustle were real and up front. 40 got drunker by the round (the spirit boss) as his mic mysteriously got quieter and louder throughout but the dance moves stayed hilariously on point. $hort was dropping quotes like “I don’t know why I mixed E-40’s tequila with Diddy’s tequila?” Me either Todd. $hort shouted out the Filipinos of the Bay which opened the door for 40 to get his plugs in for his co-founding of the Lumpia Company and this “I didn’t see it coming moment” Turf Burritos which you will soon find at a 7-11 near you. A tipsy lovable E-40 demonstrated how you might eat one had there actually been one in his hands.
The ultimate leak though was Too $hort dropping the official name of the much talked about super group consisting of E-40, $hort, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube dubbed Mount Westmore. While I find the name corny personally and highly up for debate I look forward to the project as it is mildly intriguing. Each rapper dished out their 20 tracks for the battle then settled in for an hour long extended comical drink fest mixed with collabs, more banter and classics. 40 gathered himself and got real to stress the importance of the upcoming runoff in Georgia.
With that being said here is my up for debate, round by round, track for track breakdown.
Disclaimer: A lot of these songs are collabs and features I omitted everything not directly relating to Too $hort and E-40. Nobody has time to be spelling out 25 rappers names on one track on the fly all while looking for where they last set their beer.
Too $hort “Freaky Tales” vs. E40 “The Bumble”
This is splitting hairs and I’m anti ties so while the Bumble is a standout slap off of my favorite E-40 album Freaky Tales is a ten minute soiree into ealy Too $hort’s brain.
Too $hort “Life is Too $hort” vs. E40 “Captain Save a Hoe”
I have a feeling my thought process is going to be very similar throughout the duration of this battle. I’m giving Too $hort a no doubt about it nod in this round. For the Simple fact the single “Life Is” will always be one of my favorite hip hop records of all time.
Too $hort “Shake That Monkey” vs. E-40 “U and Dat”
It didn’t take long to hit the club track portion of the night with two bangers but E40 definitely gets the nod based on lyrics alone.
Too $hort “Gettin It” vs. E40 “Nah Nah”
Was never a huge fan of the Nate Dogg collaboration and Gettin it stayed on steady rotation in my world round to Todd Shaw.
Too $hort “Don’t Fight the Feeling” vs. E40 “Sideways”
Here is one I’m curious to see how other Bay Cats voted on it. I didn’t even need to hear 40 Waters’ song to give the round to $hort until E-40 dropped the only song that could have ran with “Don’t fight the Feeling” (Ft. Entice and Barbie of The Danger Zone along with SF’s Rappin 4-Tay) in his catalog, “Sideways.” One from a mini truck, one from my own driving days. This has to end in a tie for me which was annoying as I had these tracks separate and already marked as wins.
Too $hort “I’m a Player” vs. E40 “Sprinkle Me”
While “I’m a Player” is a classic must knock “Sprinkle Me” just makes you want to hit that shoulder dip and who doesn’t love them some Suga T.
Too Short “On My Level” vs. E-40 “I got 5 on it remix”
“On My Level” had me checking the warranty on my Bose SoundLink speaker as I’m pretty sure I just fried it. While I feel like this is borderline cheating coat tailing on a classic with multiple half verse features. 40 brings though on the “I got 5 on it remix” I’m keeping it Bay 40 for the round. Shout out to the homie Mike Marshall aka Mike Meezy on the ”I Got 5 On It” hook who also was the lead singer of the Timex Social Club banger “Rumors” and recently “The Last Blackman In San Francisco” theme song. There’s some game for your trivia team cap.
Too $hort “Couldn’t Be a Better Player” vs. E40 “Snap Yo Fingers”
Even though one track reminds me of something that sounds more like Master P than Lil John (Couldn’t Be a Better Player to clarify as he is behind both tracks) I can’t fake it, I never liked “Snap Yo Fingers.” In fact I can’t stand it. Yeah I said it.
Too $hort “Call Her a Bitch” vs. E-40 “Yay Area”
E40 no competition on the Rick Rock Yaaaay Areaaaaa anthem for the time.
Too $hort “Gangsters and Strippers” vs. E-40 “Function”
E40 coming on strong, lyrics alone would have destroyed most emcees’ best efforts. Another Bay classic.
Round 11 (E-40 goes first now)
E-40 “Dusted and Disgusted” vs. Too $hort “The World is Filled”
The “World is Filled” was a track off of Biggie’s “Life After Death” but c’mon I mean this is mob music at it’s best with “Dusted and Disgusted” and they let the 2Pac verse ride. Rip to both Biggie and 2Pac I get what they were trying to do here but that wasn’t fair. What up Spice 1.
E-40 “Hope I Don’t Go Back” (slanging yayo) vs. Too $hort “The Ghetto”
Classic smoothed out songs and I love “I Hope I Don’t Go Back” but I have memories attached to this $hort classic, you’re not getting over on Sir Too $hort and the Ghetto.
E-40 “One Love” vs. Too $hort “Buy Some”
E-40 “One Love” is another smooth standout but once that first snare hit on the Too $hort and Green Eyed Bandit Eric Sermon collab it was $hort all day
E40 “My Shit Bang” vs. Too $hort “Only In Town For The Night”
F.A.B live in the house and on the mic but not enough “My Shit Bang” nuff said round to the goon with the spoon.
E-40 Candy (dripping like water) vs. Too $hort “Cusswords”
Too $hort’s OG late 80’s satin A’s jacket and donkey rope costume change alone would have got the round. One of my favorites Cusswords. Come harder.
E-40 “I Ain’t Fucking With You” vs. Too Short “I’m Bossy”
Like I couldn’t stand “Snap Yo Fingers” “I’m Bossy” is more like a cat on adderall who won’t stop meowing and scratching the chalkboard.
E-40 “That’s Law” vs. Too $hort “Burn Rubber”
After a few shots and a styrofoam cup swap $hort got in and burnt rubber Skiiiiiirt.
E-40 “Muscle Cars” vs. Too Short “Call Me”
E-40’s dance off the “mango skato piiiiimp!” I’m dying. $hort went way too smooth with Call Me. The dance alone won. G-Eazy agreed.
E-40 “Hyphy” vs. Too Short “Bia Bia”
Did they cut 40’s mic or was it a glitch we’ll never know but that’s Hyphy. 40 is faaaaaded the way we love him.
E-40 “Tell Me When To Go” vs. Too $hort “Blow the Whistle”
This was another really close one for me but the reappearance of that Too $hort funk and the line “for the last 300 months, I made 16 albums with me on the front”
While all of this is highly debatable even amongst my own head I have it as 1 draw, 9 rounds to Too $hort and 10 clean ones going to E-40 for the guap.
Overall Winner: E-40
Double Winner: E-40’s Dance Moves
With that being said the drinks got drunk and the Bay Area won on a whole. Shout out to Mr. Flamboyant E-40 and Too $hort for giving me and the nation a night to get drunk and feel young again. Shout out to the whole Bay Area as E-40 would say “stay loyal to the soil.”
You can find the full battle here courtesy of Revolt TV
My Story of How Much I love Too $hort and E-40
As a kid, I was immersed in hip hop, and along with Rodney O and Joe Cooley, Sir Mix Alot (Swass, not that baby got back junk), and NWA, there was another catalog so deep that, at the age of 8, I was making deals with my 18 year old stepbrother Robbie to let me dig deeper. That catalog was Too $hort’s 75 Girls tapes. It was the late 80’s and I was living with my father on the West Side of Santa Cruz with the aforementioned stepbrother.
For those unfamiliar, you might recognize 75 Girls from the Andre Nickatina track My Rap World “In my rap world we bump 75 girls, Playboy short, right before court.” I was learning things I was not supposed to know and teaching those “things” to my buddies on the little league team. Then It happened, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than Too $hort’s first major label album, Born to Mack, he dropped the Life Is…Too $hort.
The world as I knew it was over. Take my Def Leppard “Hysteria” tape, my Guns and Roses album, fuck it you can have “Tougher Than Leather” as well. I was in hook, line, and sinker. I was up every Saturday morning watching Yo MTV Raps with Robbie. I was riding up and down West Cliff Drive in the middle seat of a lowrider Mazda mini truck with more speakers than I could count and bumping the not so 2020 anthem “Don’t Fight the Feeling.” I was now officially soiled by the Bay.
Fast forward a few years and I was now living in the Bay Area permanently. You could find me sitting at the VCR recording every late night video show I could on KTSF (also CMC), dubbing the Wake Up Show with Sway and Tech (KMEL) and slapping the guts of every 4080 magazine on my wall. Then entered Mr. Flamboyant, Earl Stevens, E-40.
It was 1993 when his album Federal dropped, featuring “Carlos Rossi”, a track that would later in my life become an anthem. The album The Mail Man was also released around the same time giving us the Bay Area classic “Captain Save a Hoe”, along with my first real life visual of 40 Water in the video “Practice Looking Hard” – which featured a cameo from Tupac Shakur and Bay Area activist Boots Riley of The Coup.
Just as Too $hort had done for me in the 80’s, E-40 was going to do for me in the 90’s. E-40 put out In a Major Way and Once again it was a wrap. A year after it’s release you could find me in a bucket with more money invested in speakers than gas slamming “Sideways” all over the Bay. The Hall of Game followed and here we are in 2020 at the crossroads of my youth.