By// Quinn Peterson
Nearly two decades ago, Warren G burst onto the hip-hop scene with his game-changing single Regulate, along with his triple-platinum album, Regulate…G-Funk Era. As the album title indicates, his arrival signified the beginning of a new hip-hop sub-genre: G-Funk.
Here in 2012, Warren is still going strong. While the music game has evolved, he hasn’t deviated one bit from what initially brought him success.
“I haven’t changed at all,” he said. “I still keep the same formula that I started with, which is G-Funk. I can’t change it, it ain’t broke. It’s one of the genres of music that I started with a bunch of my other friends in the music business. We changed music when we did that, and you still hear a lot of artists today mimicking the sound of G-Funk, and that’s big. It just lets me know that that’s a part of history, being able to create a genre of music and have it still be alive today.”
Along with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, DJ Quik and other West Coast artists, Warren G introduced the world to a smooth, laid back style of hip-hop, heavily incorporating funk samples, perfect for cruising to — with the windows down — on a beautiful, sunny day.
In preparation of his upcoming release, a collaboration EP with his late friend Nate Dogg, Warren G recently put out No One Could Do It Better, a mixtape showcasing the best of the G-Funk sound he helped define.
“I don’t try to change up and go with the fads that are going on, I just stay Warren, and that’s what people love, and I just continue to put out good music,” he said.
“I was on Twitter, and me and DJ Klassik from the Fleet DJs were tweeting,” he said of the mixtape’s conception, “and he was like, ‘let me do a mixtape for you. We’re gonna take a lot of the songs you’ve done and make a classic mixtape.'”
“It’s everywhere right now and people love it, so that’s big ups to the Fleet DJs.”
A common voice on many classic G-Funk records is Nate Dogg, who passed away last year from complications of multiple strokes. Along with Warren G and Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg was the third member of 213. The trio’s chemistry was clear, and Warren G acknowledged that creating without his close friend has been difficult.
“It’s kind of hard doing music that I know he would just kill it,” he said. “That’s one of the things that I go through in the lab. A lot of artists don’t understand… Guys like Nate Dogg already know what to do, and I miss that. A lot of artists can rap, but the key to it is being able to make a good song, being able to do a song that people can relate to. If people can relate to it, it stays with them, so it’s like, ‘Ok, I feel this guy.’ That’s the key to making a great song.”
Thus, on the collaborative EP with Nate Dogg, he’ll do his best to commemorate his fallen comrade, no doubt.
“On this new EP I got coming out, there’s a lot of exclusive tracks that me and him did together and it’s gonna be good,” said the rapper/producer. “[The chemistry] is always gonna be there.”
Beyond rapping, Warren G is continuing his production career, as well, most notably working with Young Jeezy and Ne-Yo on Leave Me Alone, one of the singles from Jeezy’s most recent album, TM103: Thug Motivation.
Just as he remains steadfast in his love and passion for G-Funk, his sentiment for hip-hop in general remains equally untainted.
“Hip-hop is still one of the most popular genres of music. It’s at a good state right now because you have to look at it like artists like Lil’ Wayne who are starting businesses, who has a humongous fan-base so a lot of the younger generation, they see that and they want to be like him. So that teaches them how to start their own businesses. They’re like, ‘Ok, he can be a businessman, I can be a businessman.’ It’s not just about me throwing a bunch of money up in the club.
“Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with partying, ’cause I like to do it, but at the same time, we still gotta teach the younger generations that it’s about having fun after you’ve worked real hard.”
Moreover, until recently, many were highly critical of West Coast hip-hop in particular, citing a decline since the days of 2Pac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and The Game, generally pointing to a lack of hit records coming from California artists. That slump, however, according to Warren, was simply overstated.
“West coast hip-hop went nowhere. It’s just that the game has changed and you’ve gotta change with it. That’s what artists like myself are doing. I was raised in the ’90s and it was way different, way harder than it is now. Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Dom Kennedy, Ab-Soul, YG, Tyga, Jay Rock, etc., they’re good artists doing their thing. It’s good to see them working together and helping each other out.”
“Hip-hop is still a great tool and a great way to express yourself. I think it’s in a great state right now.”
With hip-hop in a good place, Warren G is doing the best to maintain the legacy of Nate Dogg, and ensure that the G-Funk sub-genre remains strong as ever, as well.
“I don’t ever want somebody to say, oh that record Warren G put out is whack. That’s why it takes me so long to put something just to make sure that it’s good. When you get that formula down-pat, that’s when you have those classic albums, and I stick to that. I’ve got a lot of good music coming out, I can’t wait for everybody to hear it.”
As long as he stays true to himself, the G-Funk should be alive and well forever.