West Coast hip-hop seemed as invincible as ever when rapper/producer Warren G dropped Regulate…G Funk Era 20 years ago. Released on June 7, 1994, the debut album tapped into the strength of Dr. Dre's The Chronic and Snoop Doggy Dogg's Doggystyle that came before it while offering something distinctive along its path as a hip-hop classic. "Regulators! Mount up!" the title track called out before Warren G and Nate Dogg slickly traded rhymes with perfection over a smooth sample of "I Keep Forgetting" by Michael McDonald.
"Regulate" soared all the way up to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 list propelling the album to triple platinum status. Although the smash single detailed the gritty side of Long Beach, Warren G perfected a good times G-funk vibe throughout the album, especially with the reminiscing rhymes of "This DJ" and its eternally quotable chorus. Regulate…G Funk Era netted two Grammy nominations in creating a simply defined soundscape "where rhythm is life and life is rhythm."
Celebrating the triumphant album's 20th anniversary, Def Jam issued a commemorative reissue earlier this month with EDM remixes of "Regulate." The Weekly caught up with Warren G who rightly proclaimed "I am G-funk!" while reflecting on the record that changed a 23-year-old rapper's life forever and hip-hop along with it.
OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): Looking back at Regulate..G Funk Era, did you have a sense at the time that the album would be so successful and go on to become a classic?
Warren G: I never thought it would get this big, but my thing was I just wanted people to hear my music. Being a hip-hop artist and just being into hip-hop, I wanted people to know who I was. Doing what I did, trying to be different, it ended up turning out to mean something incredible which is being able to be in the game more than 20 years, still relevant and still making good music. I never imagined it but I'm just happy that I was able to create a great record.
Even though Death Row Records was the epicenter of West Coast Rap back then, the album dropped on Def Jam. How did they land you?
At the time, Death Row had a lot of artists. I didn't want to wait in line because I knew I had music that go right now. I had already been working with Snoop, Dre, Daz, Kurupt, RBX, Rage, Jewell. We was already seasoned and it was a nice sized roster. I decided to do my own thing man and I did a song called "Indo Smoke" which was a record on the Poetic Justice soundtrack. That record blew up so a lot of record companies started getting at me about working.
There was a ton of them after me so I had to look at the history of each company. Once I looked at it, I said, 'Okay, you got Def Jam whose got Public Enemy, they associate with Run DMC, the Beastie Boys, the Fat Boys and everybody on Krush Groove. These other labels didn't have no track record like that. I was like, "I gotta get with these guys because they gonna show me what to do and how to really do hip-hop." So that's what I did.
The single "Regulate" is a classic featuring the late Nate Dogg. What are your thoughts on your friend these days when looking back on this album that he was a big part of?
It's a celebration for him too, you know what I'm saying, because he was a part of that. This is his anniversary for this too at the same time. It's pretty messed up that he ain't here to really work with because that was my working partner. For him not being here, it's just hard sometimes for me to work. That's kind of why I haven't put out a lot of music. I just miss him being around. Yeah…
On "This DJ" you reference Santa Ana. What's the back story to that rhyme?
As a kid, I used to work in Santa Ana for a company. Santa Ana was one of our main areas where we used to get money. I had to mention that just reminiscing on the times before I started really to make money.
What are your thoughts on the G-funk sound that you created and why it resonated so much with listeners?
The reason why is it was different from what everybody was doing. I wasn't trying to do hardcore shit. I wanted to take a different approach. I started doing hard drums with nice, heavy bass lines with smooth melodies. That's how my brand of G Funk was. I was listening to a lot of 60s, 70s, 80s music. I was listening to the people before me, seeing how it was for them, what made them successful and mimicked it. That was some of the main shit that we did was sample. I look at it like this, if you can take a sample, redo it and get the people cleared, you're putting money in they pocket. There ain't nothing wrong with that.
Aside from the 20th anniversary album reissue, what are you working on these days?
I'm just working man, just doing music. I'm working with a young cat up out of Orange County. His name is Mike Slice. I know he's a very, very talented artist. I've been working with him along with just working with myself in doing music. We got some big things coming. We going to show a lot of people what we got because he's representing Orange County so he's gotta come with it.
I'm in OC all the time. That's my second home. I've been in Orange County for about 18 years and I love it!