Sick Wid It Records, founded in 1989 by Bay Area rap legend E-40, has left its mark on not only West Coast rap, but on hip-hop period.
A blueprint for independent rap labels, both No Limit Records founder Master P and Birdman of Cash Money Records have acknowledged they learned a lot about the business of operating a label, and acquiring distributing, from the strategies that 40 implemented at Sick Wid It.
For the past three decades, Sick Wid It has been the home of E-40’s massive discography—he’s dropped over 26 albums, six collaborative projects, and had a single reach gold status at age 48 (2014’s “Choices (Yup).” But it’s Sick Wid It’s 90s run that established the label as a force in the industry. Mostly a family affair, the decade saw releases from E-40’s cousins, rappers B-Legit and D-Shot, and his sister, rapper Suga-T. Vallejo native, Celly Cel joined the roster and also dropped two albums before the decade ended, helping to solidify Sick Wid It as a giant in Bay Area rap, and a haven for inventive sound, anchored by E-40’s musical vision and prolific output.
We’ve listed 20 of the best songs released by Sick Wid It Records in the 90s.
“Call Me On The Under”- D-Shot featuring E-40 and Levitti
D-Shot’s best song came in 1993 On his album, The Shot Calla The song has all the makings of a winner: a smooth beat highlighted with a chorus sung by Levitti in a pseudo-Jamaican accent, and rhymes about hooking up on the low. But it’s really E-40 who steals the show with his zany verse about catching the eye of love interest who happens to look like Halle Berry on the freeway and busting a U-ey in the street to get to her.
“Practice Lookin’ Hard” - E-40
Who said being super self-aware was a bad thing? Sometimes you have to practice self-confidence, or in E-40s case, looking hard in the mirror, as he did on his 1993 song featured on his EP, The Mail Man.
Captain Save A Hoe”- E-40 featuring The Click
Most rap fans know that E-40 is the king of slanguage, even if he doesn’t always get props for his verbal innovations. One of his most popular slang inventions? “Captain Save A Hoe,” introduced to the masses in 1993 via The Mail Man.
“Hurricane” - The Click
The most popular song from their 1995 album, Game Related, “Hurricane” is a favorite of casual E-40 fans, and people who enjoy jams about getting slurry-drunk.
“Check It Out” - B-Legit featuring E-40 and Kurupt
The obvious stand out song on B-Legit’s 1996 album, The Hemp Museum, “Check It Out” is a west coast classic. Kurupt was in his prime when he threw B-La this assist, and he unsurprisingly came through with two standout verses. But it’s E-40 who steals the show when reminds everyone on his first verse exactly why he’s a legend: “Ever since the womb, I’ve been a tycoon.”
“Da Bumble”- E-40
Bars, delivery, storytelling–it’s all on this classic E-40 track which kicks off what might be his best album, In A Major Way. “Da Bumble” isn’t a mainstream hit, but anyone familiar with 40’s miles-long discography will tell you this song, maybe more than most, is a clear representation of what makes Earl Stevens a legend.
“Heat 4 Yo Azz” - Celly Cel
In 1994, Vallejo native Celly Cell dropped his debut album, lead by the title track and lead single, “Heat 4 Yo Azz,” which flips One Way’s “Cutie Pie” by incorporating a heavy synth bass line, haunting keys, and raw energy from Cel. Produced mostly by Sam Bostic, Studio Ton and Celly Cel, the album remains one of Sick Wid It’s best. Celly Cel’s gangster escapades through the streets of Vallejo are brought to life via the late afternoon banger ‘What Am I To Do” and the creeping “Ballin’ Thru The Hood” featuring B-Legit. But “Heat 4 Yo Azz” is a standout on the album in in Cel’s discography.
“Get Breaded” - E-40 featuring Fat Joe and Sauce Money
By the time Charlie Hustle: The Blueprint of a Self-Made Millionaire dropped in 1999, E-40 had already established that he was one of rap’s most creative lyricists. After dropping Southwest Riders two years earlier in 1997— a collaboration with B-Legit that brought the south (Three 6, Mafia, UGK, Tela, Mystikal) and west coast (Luniz, 3X Krazy, WC, Messy Marv) together for a double album— 40 continued showcasing his bi-coastal connections by teaming up Fat Joe and Sauce Money on this party track, produced by the legendary Battlecat.
“Be About Your Paper” - The Click
One of the standout tracks on the Click’s best album, Game Related, everyone is in tip-top form on “Be About Your Paper.” Produced by Studio Tone, B-Legit opens the song the second the beat drops and doesn’t let up until Levitti comes in on the hook, drunk-uncle crooning about why should be about your fetti, scrilla, and scratch. D-Shot easily handles the second verse, and 40 closes it out with quotable, clever bars about getting one over the police in his pursuit of paper.
“Hope I Don’t Go Back,” E-40
Easily one of the best songs in 40’s mile-long discography, the Ramsey Lewis-sampled “Hope I Don’t Go Back” from his 1998 double album, The Element of Surprise, is 40 doing what he does best: reminiscing, offering game, and delivering his brand of grounded street-wise advice.
“It’s On, On Sight” E-40 feat. C-Bo
In a rap world where Freddie Gibbs, Pusha T, and Griselda are recognized for their above-average lyrical ability, it’s a shame that Sacramento rhymer C-Bo isn’t mentioned more often as a standout lyricist. A regular collaborator with E-40, he shows up here to show off over a bass line that does sound like “a guerilla trying to get up out of the trunk.” 40, who first cried, “We had a meeting, shit was ‘posed to been squashed!” a few years earlier on “Dusted In Disgusted,” uses the line on the hook here. He’s in rare form too, rapid-fire spitting and showing again that when he’s inspired, he’s damn near unbeatable.
“Record Haters”- E-40
Rapper AZ and ball player Rasheed Wallace really pissed E-40 off when they suggested that he didn’t deserve his platinum plaque for his breakout album, In A Major Way. So on “Record Haters” from his 1996 follow-up album, The Hall of Game, he lets him know that he was “sellin’ tapes out of the trunk of my car” while they were “running around drinkin’ Similac,” along with a few other choice things. E-40’s never been one for pointed diss tracks, but he got one off here, and shushed everyone who had something negative to say about him getting his due for his years-long grind.
“It’s Goin Down”- Celly Cel
Celly Cel’s sophomore album, Killa Kali gave us his most recognizable song, the Keith Sweat-sampled, “It’s Goin Down.” The remix featured Rappin 4 Tay, E-40, B-Legit, and Mack 10, but the original still holds up as the superior version.
“Million Dollar Spot”- E-40 featuring 2Pac and B-Legit
E-40 and 2Pac were frequent collaborators, and on “Million Dollar Spot” from 1996’s The Hall of Game, they’re comfortable trading aspirational bars with B-Legit over a Mike Mosley beat.
“Look At Me”- E-40 featuring Hot Boys
Fresh off their platinum album, Guerilla Warfare, the Hot Boys made a Bay Area connection when they linked with E-40 on what would be on the standouts on his Charlie Hustle album. While Turk wasn’t on the track, Juvenile and Lil Wayne are at home on the Bosko beat, while Baby takes care of the hook.
“Wolf Tickets”- The Click
1995 was E-40’s year. Not only did he drop In A Major Way, but he also released an album with The Click, solidifying his place as one of the most innovative rhymers on any coast. “Wolf Tickets” opened up the album, with The Click questioning why loud mouth people never seem to back their talking up, and exposing the rest of the world to more of the Bay’s inventive slang.
“Carlos Rossi” - E-40
One of E-40’s early standout tracks, and still one of his signatures, “Carlos Rossi” from 1993’s Federal was an indication of where 40 was headed as a both an artist and a business man. After years of name-dropping the wine and putting it on rap fans’ radar, 40 launched his own line of spirits in 2018, E. Cuarenta.
“If I Took Your Boyfriend” - Suga T
Suga T contemplates what would happen if she took someone’s boyfriend over Prince’s Sign ‘O’ The Times classic, “If I Was Your Girlfriend.” The song first appeared on the Click’s Game Related, and later popped on Suga T’s second solo release in 1996, Paper Chasin’ (4Eva Hustlin).
“Dusted & Disgusted” - E-40 featuring Mac Mall, 2Pac, Spice- 1
One of the most overlooked posse cuts of the 90s, “Dusted & Disgusted” is all energy from the second E-40 opens it up, spitting speedy bars about his suspicions that someone in his circle is shady. Spice-1 makes an appearance, setting up the alley-hoop for 40’s slam-dunk second verse, while 2Pac and Bay Area spitter, Mac Mall, round the track out with high-energy bars.
“Sprinkle Me” E-40 featuring Suga T
Brother and sister trade mellow bars over a mid-tempo beat with an insanely catchy hook. Yet another example of E-40’s penchant for inventive phrases, “Sprinkle Me” is still one of his most well-known songs.