“Don’t let ’em knock your motivation, keep tryin’,” advises E-40 on “Just Be You,” the latest video selection from the Bay Area hip-hop legend’s triple album The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil 1, 2 & 3, adding, “You’re probably just ahead of your time, like me.” The song and the video alike act as a sunny victory lap for a career that has only continued to thrive well past an age when most rappers are considered passé.
The lyrics transcend potential corniness in part thanks to E-40’s long, decidedly low-corn track record. Sure, you could grumble that a song about how there’s really something new under the sun could find a better opening line than “they were wrong when they said ‘ain’t nothin’ new under the sun.” But that would be more than a little churlish. With Oakland R&B singer J-Banks on the smooth hook and rap veteran Too Short adding grizzled motivation, this horn-swathed summer-BBQ groove doesn’t have to avoid every cliché to feel like a breath of fresh air.
The video juxtaposes the rappers with ordinary people from around the neighborhood, each presumably original in their own ways. Aw, warm and fuzzy! The best part: when a guy holds up a T-shirt showing President Obama in a San Francisco Giants baseball cap. Humm baby.