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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
3/26/2004 8:47:45 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include E-40.

E-40 is known for his colorful lyrics, and they are occasionally suitable for a family newspaper. But when the subject turns to reggae artist Rankin' Scroo, he dishes out glowing praise, not phrases that need editing.

"The dude is extremely talented,'' said E-40, whose real name is Earl Stevens. E-40 is a Vallejo native and a graduate of Hogan High School who lives in San Ramon. "He's professional, man... My fans love him. We come together like peanut butter and jelly when we collaborate."

They've jammed at various venues in the Bay Area over the last few months, and Scroo (Harold Johnson) is featured on two cuts on E-40's most recent CD, "Breakin News." Scroo is on the title track and a tune called "Act A Ass," and also appeared in the E-40 video "automatic."

Returning the favors, E-40 provides an endorsement for the Oakland-based Scroo on his latest offering, "Godfada." While E-40 didn't perform in the infamous Super Bowl halftime show -- a la Nelly -- he is a major "playa" in the hip-hop business.

That's why Scroo's association with E-40 has kicked up the former's profile a few notches. Many E-40 followers who hitherto wouldn't have known Rankin' Scroo from Kenny Rankin are turned on by his music, and eventually check out his CDs or concerts.

"It has really given him the edge he needed to combine the hip-hop area with reggae,'' said Darren Hodges, Scroo's manager. "E-40's record really took off on a national level. It's the chemistry we needed ... (Scroo) is getting a lot of interest."

And it's working for E-40 as well. Scroo has noticed that their performances have drawn an older crowd than E-40 would attract on his own, and a more youthful contingent than would normally see him.

The fact that Scroo and his group play live instruments -- no taped stuff here -- pleases musical purists and helps create a more lively atmosphere.

"We certainly get a lot of interest in the (under 18) crowd,'' said Scroo. "Hip-hop and reggae are a good mix. The older crowd just doesn't want to see just a concert, they want a show, they want a real show -- dancing, costumes, live band.

"You can always change the makeup of a crowd with a live band.''

Everyone seems to have a good time, even though the musical styles and subject matter of Scroo and E-40 are quite different.

"He's talking more about party stuff,'' Scroo said, "then we come back with stuff in the streets or politics -- fellows locked up in jail."

Said E-40, "He's not saying kill that mother -- , kill that mother -- .''

Scroo, who plays keyboards, drums, guitar and percussion and sings, is fond of describing his musical style as "urban reggae." The best way to describe him would be Shaggy (the British reggae star) with much more of an edge and attitude. Scroo will not be sampling the Jacksons' disco hit of the '70s, "Shake Your Body Down to the Ground" any time soon.

Scroo, 45, is a native of Jamaica, where he started singing in his church choir at a young age, then evolved into a "toaster'' (reggae rapper), and was involved in production and promotion as well.

Scroo immigrated to the borough of Queens in New York in 1979 and continued his career. From there, military service took him to Hawaii, where he met a keyboardist named Ginger. They forged what became known as "Jawaiian music," a combination of Jamaican and native Hawaiian sounds. She still performs in his band.

After living in Oakland on and off for more than a decade, Scroo says he'll be settling in for a while. He has a studio in his home in the Fruitvale district where he also runs his production company, Crucial Youth Productions, and likes the Bay Area's more relaxed environment. "If it's New York, everybody is in your face, and that's not good all the time,'' Scroo said. "This is a nice, peaceful home base. I can wake up every hour of the night (and work on music)."

How did Scroo come up with his stage name, which he's been using for ye

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