How E-40 went from rapping to building a business empire

Abu Mubarik February 14, 2023
Rapper and entrepreneur E-40 . Photo credit: Forbes

In the 80s, rapper, E-40’s music catalog made him a household name. Although no longer active in the entertainment industry as he was in the 80s, Earl Stevens, as he is formally known, has reinvented himself as an entrepreneur.

He has built a business empire that includes spirit brands “Goon With The Spoon,” “Earl Stevens Selections” and a restaurant. Prior to that, he was a brand ambassador for Landy Cognac to help with their visibility campaign in the United States. 

In 2013, he debuted his wine brand, Earl Stevens Selections, which he named after himself. The launch of the brand would later inspire his vision for building a spirits business empire, securing absolute ownership of all brands and getting actively involved in every step of production, from tasting all through to invoicing.

The wine brand went viral following a successful marketing strategy, and for E-40, it was time to start speaking to distributors. He later developed other wines like Mangoscato and Moscato, and got his bottles distributed to more shelves across the United States – 21 pallets and a truckload at a time.

“It felt great to see that first truckload go out,” he told Forbes when he secured a distribution deal. “I was like, I’m on my way. I’m on my way.”

He also capitalized on the growth of his brand by offering other kinds of wines, cocktail mixes, and tequilas. According to Forbes, his music often predicts the name he gives to each bottle. For instance, he named his Sluricane Hurricane cocktail after his 1995 song with The Click in “Hurricane.”

Also, his songs inspire the labels on his bottles, such as Tycoon Cognacs. “The name tycoon is a name that I actually coined in the hip-hop community,” he said. “Of course, it has always been in the dictionary, but nobody was screaming tycoon until I was screaming tycoon on numerous records.”

In addition to his spirits brands, he owns a restaurant business called California lumpia restaurant, and plans to do more. In an interview with KTVU, he reflected on his success in music and entrepreneurship.

“We did what we had to do to survive,” E-40 said, “I had paper routes when I was young. Vallejo VIP. Times Herald.”

E-40 started his career in music in the ghettos as an underground rapper in the Bay Area, and worked his way to stardom. He grew up in Vallejo, California, with his parents until they separated.

“When my momma and daddy split, my daddy moved to one part of Vallejo, and we moved to the Hillside of Vallejo,” E-40 said. “When they separated, things got hard for us; she had to get two jobs.”

After moving to the Bay Area, he launched his own record label, “Sick Wid It Records.” He released his first solo album, “Federal,” with Jive Records in 1993. Since then, he has gone on to release several albums.

Last Edited by:Francis Akhalbey Updated: February 14, 2023


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