OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - He's a rapper and an entrepreneur, but the success of Earl Stevens, also known as E-40, didn't come overnight.
"We did what we had to do to survive," E-40 tells KTVU. "I had paper routes when I was young. Vallejo VIP. Times Herald."
The 51-year-old grew up in Vallejo, where he lived with both his parents until he was eight years old, when 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 says. "When they separated, things got hard for us. She had to get two jobs."
E-40 says a lot of his drive and energy comes from watching his mother work so hard to support him and his three siblings. He left the Bay Area in the mid-1980s to attend Grambling State University in Louisiana. That's where he decided to pursue a career in rap.
So he moved back to the Bay Area and started his own record label, "Sick Wid It Records," and in 1990 "Let's Side" by E-40 and the Click was released.
E-40 released his first solo album, "Federal" with Jive Records in 1993. Since then he's put out nearly two dozen more albums, and collaborated with big names like Lil Jon and Snoop Dogg.
Now E-40 is expanding his empire with his own line of adult beverages, which is now being sold in national chains like BevMo.
When asked about his enterprise, he says it's all based on self-preservation and taking advantage of opportunity. "Nobody's just going to give you anything. History repeats itself, opportunities don't. I have a platform, so you use that platform to bring others in."