The world first heard of Warren G from his guest appearance on Mista Grimm’s “Indo Smoke” from the Poetic Justice Soundtrack. But before he got his break with Grimm, Warren was grindin’ in Long Beach and the surrounding area trying to get into the game with his group 213, which consisted of himself, Nate Dogg (rip) and Snoop Dogg. In fact, Warren G (who is Dr. Dre’s half-brother) is responsible for introducing Snoop to Dre, and we all know how monumental that introduction was to hip-hop. Snoop would soon ascend to hip-hop’s pinnacle in the early nineties as a solo artist, leaving Nate and Warren left to fin for themselves (even though Snoop did throw them a bone (no pun intended), with Nate getting a chance to croon on The Chronic’s “Deeez Nuuuts” and he and Warren would both get an invite to get on the misogynistic classic “It Ain’t No Fun”). No worries, as they would both land on their feet, with Nate signing with Elektra and Warren inking a deal with Violator Records, where he would release his debut album, Regulate…G Funk Era.
With the help of a handful of musicians, Warren G would follow in his big brother’s foot steps and produce the entirety of Regulate, inviting some new artist to help carry the weight on the microphone. Thanks in large part to the monster lead single, Regulate would go on to earn Warren G a platinum plaque, selling over 3 million copies, and receive critical acclaim from the critics.
Lets revisit Regulate and see how it’s held up over the past twenty-five years.
Regulate – This title track and lead single was also the lead single for the Above The Rim Soundtrack. Warren G and company (which is Greg Geitzenauer on keyboards and Andreas Straub on guitar) hook up an interpolation of Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin (Every Time You’re Near)”, as Warren G and his 213 bredrin Nate Dogg rap and sing a tale, respectively, about a night (with “a clear black night” and “a clear white moon”) where a mission to “consume skirts” takes a turn for the worst. It’s clear from the jump that Warren G is not a great lyricist, but Nate Dogg does prove to be a dope vocalist, as he completely bodies the dope instrumental work. If you don’t agree that this is a classic record, than you’re a buster and worthy of some regulating.
Do You See – This was the third and final single released from Regulate. Warren and company lay out a clean laid back instrumental that our host uses to discuss his childhood and coming into the game with his 213 click (back when Snoop Dogg was going by Snoop Rock, according to Warren). Warren’s corny rhymes quickly become a reoccurring theme, but the smooth sounds of the Warren G/Geitzenauer/Straub concocted backdrop, along with the catchy hook (which is just as corny as it is catchy) will make you overlook just how bad our host’s rhymes are.
Gangsta Sermon – A juvenile interlude with B-Tip (not to be confused with A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip…you like how I snuck that Tribe Degrees of Separation in there?) and the late comedian Ricky Harris. This definitely hasn’t aged well.
Recognize – Over some smooth G-Funked instrumentation, Warren introduces the world to The Twinz, Tripp Loc and Wayniac, who are actually twin brothers. Our host and The Twinz each spit a verse, and while Warren struggles (the man rhymes “era” with “era”) The Twinz actually sound decent. But the true star of this one is the smooth groove laid behind them.
Super Soul Sis – Our host introduces yet another new artist. This time female emcee Jah-Skilz goes dolo over a very average instrumental. Jah-Skilz is not as lyrical or charismatic as say, a Lady of Rage, but she does a serviceable job on this one. Her line about “Rapper’s skills are thinner than niggas on AIDS” was kind of comical…only because I’ve never heard anyone reference AIDS as something you’re “on”.
’94 Ho Draft – See comments from “Gangsta Sermon”.
So Many Ways – Warren G and Wayniac from The Twinz, spill rhymes over this crispy clean smooth groove, while Lady Levi (whom you may remember for her opening reggae chant on The Chronic’s “Let Me Ride”) adds some adlibs and takes care of the hook. I absolutely love the fuzzy bass line on this instrumental. Every time I hear this song it makes me want to roller skate or front like I’m rollin’ through the streets of LA in a drop top ’64.
This D.J. – This was the second single released from Regulate. Before Lil’ Duval was “Living My Best Life”, there was Warren G’s “This DJ”, which uses an interpolation of the same Midnight Star sample used on the former (which was actually first used a few years prior on the severely underrated Eric B & Rakim record “What’s On Your Mind” off the Don’t Sweat The Technique album and included on the House Party 2 Soundtrack…but I digress). Our host uses the slick and polished production to reminisce about his childhood growing up in Long Beach, California. Despite Warren’s underwhelming rhymes, the instrumental and catchy hook propelled this to become a classic record.
This Is The Shack – Warren G continues his Regulate crew roll out plan. This time he lets the three-man team (Bo Rock, 2Scoops and C-Knight) collectively known as The Dove Shack, shine, or at least attempt to. Each of them spit underwhelming verses, but fear not: Warren G and his cast of live musicians (Sean Thomas on keyboards, Andreas Straub on guitar, Daniel Shulman on bass and Carl Small on percussion) put their collective foot in this instrumental and cook up some shit that will satisfy your soul, making you forget all about the forgettable emceeing from The Dove Shack.
What’s Next – Mr. Malik, formerly of the Philly based kid duo Illegal, jumps on this track and raps next to his gracious host. I wasn’t a fan of Mr. Malik’s rhymes when he was with Illegal or what he did with Snoop on Doggystyle’s “Pump Pump”, but he actually rides this slick Warren G and company produced backdrop pretty effectively. Or maybe when you’re rapping next to a man who rhymes “function” with “function”, makes corny train sound effectives in the middle of his rhymes and spells “next” wrong at the beginning of his final verse, you sound better than you truly are.
And Ya Don’t Stop – Warren builds this instrumental around a dope guitar loop taken from Don Julian’s “Janitzio” and turns it into a slick instrumental. Unfortunately, his elementary rhymes detract from the song’s dopeness. It would have been nice to see his former 213 bredrin Snoop Dogg spit on this one, but whatever.
Runnin’ Wit No Breaks – Regulate ends with Greg G playing some infectious piano keys over a mid-tempo drum beat that Jah-Skilz, Warren G, Tripp Loc and Wayniac use to each spit a verse over. None of the parties involved embarrass themselves on the mic (with Warren being the exception), but no one sounds spectacular, either. But like most of the album, the instrumental work covers up the emcees’ transgressions.
Let me start by saying Warren G is a terrible rapper. But the dude has a great ear for music. Over the course of fourteen tracks (with two being interludes), Warren spits severely famished rhymes, while his crew of D-list emcees come through as serviceable at best. But Warren and his cast of musicians serve up a batch of polished G-Funk instrumentation that will keep your head bobbin, your ear satisfied and a willingness to overlook all that he and his team lack on the mic. If The Chronic was the main course of your G-Funk meal, Doggystyle would be the dessert and Regulate…G Funk Era would serve as the perfect appetizer.