The ‘G’ in Warren G stands for Griffin, but it might as well be shorthand for “G Funk”. Warren’s distinctive production chops and romantic vision of gangsterism made him one of the most indispensible voices of the G Funk era and, in the years since, they’ve enshrined him as one of the West Coast’s most recognisable veterans. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, we’re breaking down the samples strewn throughout Warren’s classic debut, Regulate… G Funk Era!
Warren G, Dre, and the LBC
It’s hard to overstate just how transformative The Chronic was.
Dre’s first solo album following N.W.A’s bitter breakup had a lot riding on it. Newly divorced from the crew that helped make him a West Coast stalwart, his potential as a self-contained artist was still yet to be determined. Though the longtime architect of the group’s confrontational sound, Dre’s next step would have to both justify his own reputation, itself considerable, and establish his new label, Death Row Records, as a force in its own right.
In doing both, he also introduced some of the West Coast’s most promising talents. Amongst these was Dre’s own cousin, Warren G, a smooth-talking emcee and cruisey producer with a knack for melding the gangsta and the romantic. His brief skit on Dre’s “Deeez Nuuuts,” though classic in its own right, couldn’t have prepared the world for 1994’s “Regulate.”
By flipping a cheesy Michael McDonald synth into one of the most iconic hip hop narratives of all time, Warren G cemented his status as a bona-fide G-funk legend. His ensuing debut, Regulate… G Funk Era, only furthered his claim to the movement’s mantle, pairing gruff depictions of violence with his own uniquely easygoing attitude. The Geto Boys once said it feels good to be a gangsta, and from the persona he puts forward on this record, Warren’s well aware of the perks.
Regulate… G Funk Era might be light on the subgenre’s hallmark P-Funk interpolations, but it encapsulates the tales and takes of the movement through its uniquely Long Beach perspective. Bolstered with a strong list of generally lesser-known acts, most of whom hail from Warren’s hometown, the record revels in the kind of coastal cruising and indo smoking that’s since become a well-worn cliché.
That having been said, there’s a lot more to the classic mid-’90s album than meets the ear. You know the deal – in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Regulate… G Funk Era, we’re diving into the stash of records that helped facilitate one of the smoothest debuts of all time.
Regulate… G-Funk Era, Sample by Sample
It’s telling that “Regulate,” the title track, opens with an interpolation. Warren takes direct inspiration from the opening to Bob James’ “Sign of the Times,” itself the title track from the jazz keyboardist’s ninth album. Interpolations were generally cheaper than direct samples, which had led to a handful of heated and expensive legal battles in the early ‘90s, and as such, replayed samples were a staple of Dre’s production. There’s a good amount of Parliament-Funkadelic interpolations all over The Chronic and Doggystyle, with Snoop going as far as to emblazon his album art with passages from George Clinton’s own “Atomic Dog.”
In the 1988 brat pack western Young Guns, Emilio Estevez’s Billy the Kid is recruited as a farmhand by a wealthy landowner. Though the initiative is intended to keep the gunslingers from their violent ways, Billy’s colleagues see it differently. They’re “regulators” who “regulate any stealing of his property.” You already know the requirements: “you can’t be any geek of the street – you’ve got to be handy with the steel, if you know what I mean…”
The central sample that underpins “Regulate” – that distinctive synth, underwritten with the delicate bass lick – is the handiwork of Michael McDonald, singer-songwriter and former lead singer of the Doobie Brothers. The song was first sampled by Afrika Bambaataa back in 1982, the very same year it was included on McDonald’s If That’s What It Takes.
Anybody down to read an article about Warren G is already familiar with “Let Me Ride,” the third single from Dre’s The Chronic. The anthemic cut, which featured ghostwriting from RBX and vocals from Snoop and Jewell, won Best Rap Solo Performance at the 1994 Grammys and has been a staple of West Coast hip hop ever since. Warren, who’s also Dre’s half-brother, made an appearance in the lowrider-focused music video. It appears on “Regulate” via Nate Dogg, who sings: “… he said ‘my car’s broke down and you seem real nice, would ya let me ride?”
The titular phrase from that last interpolation – “let me ride!” – is itself an interpolation of another track, this one far older. Dre’s love of P-Funk isn’t exactly a secret, and he based both the melody and the words themselves off a short section from Parliament’s 1975 single, “Mothership Connection (Star Child).” If you want to go even further, the phrase in Parliament’s original track is itself based off “Swing Down Sweet Chariot,” a cover of traditional negro spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” popularised the Golden Gate Quartet and later performed by Elvis in 1960. The original “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was actually penned sometime around 1865, taking this sampling chain all the way back to the Civil War era.
It’s one of the more memorable utterances from the track: “G funk, where rhythm is life, and life is rhythm.” It’s not a wholly original thought on Warren’s part, but that doesn’t lessen the effectiveness of the phrase, an obscure reference to The Evasions’ “Wikka Wrap.” You couldn’t make it up: that track is an early disco/hip hop cut from two British TV producers who, for some reason, chose to record a novelty song impersonating TV personality Alan Whicker. Somehow, it was a hit, and so it’s appeared on tracks from Coolio and Snoop. This isn’t the last we’ll discuss it in this piece.
“Do You See”
“The blues,” explains noted American poet and singer-songwriter Gil Scott-Heron, “has always been totally American.” Warren opens the second track on his debut with a section lifted from “Bicentennial Blues,” a track originally included on Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson’s 1976 LP, It’s Your World. As he elaborates, he completes a central question with a poetic answer: “the question is why. Why should the blues be so at home here? Well, America provided the atmosphere.” Warren’s sampling game here is strong: the track in question had never before been flipped, and his use of the song remains definitive.
Junior’s “Mama Used To Say” was just over a decade old when Warren put it to use on “Do You See.” You can clearly hear the distinctive bass riff as the instrumental kicks in 0:20, though much of the original oomph has been muted amongst the other elements at play. “Mama Used To Say” was a hit in its own right: the debut single from Junior, it simultaneously broke him into both his local English scene and the coveted US charts. As is the case with many forgotten R&B hits, it was seized by eager producers in the late ‘80s, appearing on jams from Grandmaster Flash and Jungle Brothers.
Did you notice anything familiar about the instrumental that enters at 0:20? You ought to. The main clue is the distinctive percussion that follows the scratching: it’s reminiscent of “Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G., no? That’s because both “Do You See” and “Juicy” make use of Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit,” itself a hit single from 1983. There’s two interesting things to note here: firstly, Warren beat Big to the punch by just three months, and secondly, Mtume was notoriously critical of early sampling, though by 1994, he would have been getting paid for the flips.
In an interesting interpolation, Warren makes a passing reference to Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler),” the heartbreaking close of his much-acclaimed What’s Going On. The emcee discards the context of the track – the devastating effects of disenfranchisement and depression in the ghettos of the 1970s – and uses the line to merely invoke the familiar, adding another layer of immersion and history to the mix. It’s the kind of line that makes you perk up; the kind of line that demands attention, if only for a moment.
[no samples, skit]
It’s not exactly surprising that “Recognize” is light on sampled elements: the track has the sheen of preprogrammed synths and tailor made beats, a style G-Funk cuts often employ. That’s not to say that the track is without flips, as two sampled phrases are juxtaposed against one another to create the titular refrain. The first – “y’alls niggas better recognize” – is unmistakably the work of Snoop, who spat those very bars on the Doggystyle posse cut “Doggy Dogg World.”
Interestingly, in Snoop’s verse on “Doggy Dogg World,” he too invokes Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” with a passing phrase: “Now, tell me, what’s going on? / It make me wanna holler…”
The voice that pairs with Snoop in the sample-heavy chorus – “focus your eyes, cause my homie is hot…” – belongs to West Coast legend King Tee. The vocal sample isn’t actually taken from one of Tee’s tracks: it’s lifted from his uncredited feature on Mixmaster Spade and Compton Posse’s “Genius Is Back.” Though he’s hardly a household name, Mixmaster Spade started laying mixtapes in ‘83, making him one of the very first notable emcees from the storied City of Compton. “Genius Is Back” was the second of two collaborations between Tee, Spade and Compton Posse, preceded by 1987’s “Ya Better Bring A Gun.”
Spade died on March 15, 2005 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
“Super Soul Sis”
The three samples on “Super Soul Sis” pull from three distinct decades: the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. The first flip is courtesy of mid-’80s Detroit-based outfit One Way, whose track “Don’t Stop (Ever Loving Me)” provides the quiet storm base of Warren G’s smooth cut. As One Way, the outfit released eleven albums across nine years, impressively prolific despite their nigh-constant lineup changes. This same track was later sampled on “Luven Me” by Nelly.
You probably recognise the voice that claims to “fly through the sky gettin’ love,” and that’s because Snoop has one of the most immediately recognisable deliveries in the game. This particular sample – which appears at 1:06 on “Super Soul Sis” – is taken from Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang (Freestyle Remix),” which featured appearances from Snoop and Tha Dogg Pound. A different Snoop phrase from the very same remix was sampled by Tupac on Poetic Justice cut “Definition of a Thug Nigga.”
Like “Recognize” before it, “Super Soul Sis” constructs a refrain from two seperate sampled phrases. In both cases, one of these phrases is courtesy of Snoop, but on this track, Warren G ups the juxtaposition by traversing genre and era. The sung element of the hook – “the whole wide world will watch me” – is the handiwork of Cameo vocalist Larry Blackmon. Originally known as New York City Players, the funk/disco outfit changed their name to avoid confusion with the Ohio Players, themselves a defining influence on the G-Funk subgenre. “Why Have I Lost You,” sampled here, appeared on their 1978 sophomore album, We All Know Who We Are.
“’94 Ho Draft”
The second of two skits included on the record, “‘94 Ho Draft” sees B-Tip and Ricky Harris take on different comedic personas. Whereas “Gangsta Sermon” was short and outrageous, “‘94 Ho Draft” is longer and less performance-based. It also incorporates a sample, flipping the opening breakbeat from T-Connection’s 1977 jam, “Groove To Get Down.” Though that track was featured on the Ultimate Breaks and Beats series, it’s been sampled just ten times by artists such as DJ Polo and Jazzy Jeff.
Ricky Harris had minor roles in films such as Poetic Justice, Murder Was The Case and Heat, though he might be best known for his work as DJ EZ Dicc on Snoop’s Doggystyle. He won a role in 2015’s Dope, but suddenly passed away from a heart attack on Boxing Day 2016.
“So Many Ways”
On “So Many Ways” – the original album cut, not the subsequent Bad Boys remix – the dominating bass sample is lifted from Cameo’s “Please You,” a track from their fifth studio album, 1980’s Cameosis. Though the song itself wasn’t a hit, the album peaked at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, making it one of their most successful efforts. This marks the second time that Warren has sampled the classic R&B outfit, following the flip on “Super Soul Sis.”
Two samples come into play at 0:21. First, let’s take a look at the keyboard progression, which is directly lifted from Midnight Star’s 1984 album track, “Curious.” The most curious thing about the sample is how deceptively contemporary the keys sound – whilst the tinkering drum machine dates the original track to the mid-’80s, the underlying riff feels surprisingly fresh. “Curious” featured on their hit fifth record, Planetary Invasion, and has since been sampled by Eric B. & Rakim, Kurious and Capital STEEZ. One-time Midnight Star member Belinda Lipscomb later collaborated with Snoop Dogg on 2011’s “Toyz N The Hood.”
The Sons of Champlin were founded in late-’60s San Francisco, a famed bastion of countercultural thought and psychedelic exploration. The break sampled at 0:21 is taken from “You Can Fly,” a cut included on their 1969 sophomore effort, The Sons. Under the guidance of Bill Champlin, the group incorporated elements of soul and jazz into their rock arrangements, a fact which helps explain why Champlin himself eventually left the outfit to join up with Chicago. This very break was sampled by Dre on Snoop’s “Tha Shiznit” just seven months prior to Warren G’s debut, and has since been sampled by RZA, Tribe and Prince Paul.
The female vocal sample that first appears at 0:29 – “I like it, I like it…” – is taken from a very familiar source. 1980s R&B act James Mtume was once steadfastly anti-sampling, but his position softened with time. The female vocals here are also taken from 1983’s “Juicy Fruit,” itself a hit, and are performed by Tawatha Agee, the lead singer of Mtume’s eponymous outfit. Interestingly, this sample fell a mere two months before Biggie released “Juicy,” the definitive Mtume-sampling single from his classic ‘94 debut, Ready To Die.
Though nearly every bar in Eric B. & Rakim’s short-yet-sweet “Paid In Full” is a quotable, few are as immediately recognisable as “cause I don’t like to dream about getting paid.” Warren G interpolates this bar at 0:39, and it’s very hard to miss. Warren was clearly very fond of the lyric in ‘94, as he included it on his contribution to the famous (or perhaps, infamous) St. Ides 94 tape. The story goes like this: St. Ides Brewing Company wanted to get down with the kids, and in 1994 – one of the most legendary years in hip hop history – that meant embracing hip hop culture. They did so by enlisted a swathe of stars, including Snoop, Nate Dogg, Scarface, MC Eiht, Ice Cube and Wu-Tang, to spit some brief bars about drinking beer. Surprisingly, a lot of it was actually pretty good!
“This Is The Shack”
You might have noticed that many of Warren G’s tracks don’t formally start for about 20 seconds – there’s an introduction, often without any samples, that leads into the introduction of the break and the commencement of the performance. “This Is The Shack” is no different, with Lou Donaldson’s “Ode to Billie Joe” entering at 0:21. That track, released through Blue Note Records in 1967, first became truly famous in 1993, when it appeared on joints from Cypress Hill, Lords of the Underground, Tribe, King Tee and Onyx. It featured on “This Is The Shack” just one year later, though it wouldn’t be until 2003 that it received its arguable starring role on Kanye’s “Jesus Walks.”
Not only is Musical Youth’s “Pass The Dutchie” one of the most famous and immediately recognisable reggae hits of the 20th century, it’s also a thinly-veiled ode to smoking pot, so it’s no surprise that Warren G interpolates it at 2:22. The lead single from the their debut album, 1982’s The Youth Of Today, “Pass The Dutchie” charted on both sides of the Atlantic and turned the word “dutchie” into slang overnight. Though the song was adapted from “Pass The Kouchie,” which refers to a cannabis pipe, Musical Youth spun it into a lamentation of poverty, as “dutchie” means “cooking pot” in Jamaican patois. As of writing, Drake has yet to appropriate the phrase.
Interpolations of nursery rhymes are always obvious and often charming, but this one’s worth breaking down all the same. Firstly, it’s clear that this is an interpolation of “This Old Man,” a popular nursery rhyme of uncertain origins. Whilst it’s been claimed that it originated in Liverpool during the 19th century, the earliest written examples appeared in the early 1900s.
Secondly, and perhaps more interestingly, this isn’t just an interpolation – it’s an interpolation of an interpolation. Pioneering new school emcee Jimmy Spicer rapped this passage almost verbatim on 1980’s “Adventures of Super Rhyme (Rap),” his debut single from Dazz Records. Though his profile wasn’t as high as other trailblazing hip hop acts, Spicer went on to release “Money (Dollar Bill Y’all)” in 1983, a track that would later influence Wu-Tang, and he would later join Russell Simmon’s Rush Management and release a single on Def Jam. In 2018, he revealed he was fighting brain and lung cancer – you can give to his GoFundMe here.
If you’re older than I, you might just remember “Conjunction Junction,” from which Warren G interpolates a bar at 0:11. He chases Jimmy Spicer’s hip hop nursery rhyme with yet another childlike sample, pulling from an educational track that teaches about the value and use of conjunctions. It originally aired as a part of Schoolhouse Rock!, a program on ABC, in 1973, but has since been stuck in heads everywhere. Don’t believe me? It’s been sampled by acts as varied as Redman, Big Daddy Kane, Naughty By Nature, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
A new sample comes into play as Mr. Malik, a onetime member of shortlived hip hop duo Illegal, takes up the mic. The riff in question, which enters at 0:56, is lifted from the opening of Heatwave’s “Mind Blowing Decisions,” the second single from their 1977 sophomore LP, Central Heating. The popular song has since become a popular sample, appearing on tracks from The D.O.C., Pete Rock, Tribe and Kid Capri.
“And Ya Don’t Stop”
“And Ya Don’t Stop” opens with what sounds like an old school blaxploitation soundtrack. That’s because it’s a sample of Don Julian’s “Janitzo,” a track composed for the soundtrack to Savage!, an obscure 1973 American-Philippines blaxploitation picture. Don Julian was born in Houston, and his work on the OST remains one of his most notable achievements. This was the first time that “Janitzo” had been sampled, though it was flipped again the following year on a track from Polish hardcore hip hop group Welder’s Sudden Attack.
Just as Warren G’s voice enters the mix, so to does an oft-utilised and dependable breakbeat. This one’s taken from The Honey Drippers’ 1973 single, “Impeach The President,” a Nixon-era funk jam that decries the then-growing calls for the embattled President’s impeachment. Though he would never be impeached, Nixon did resign as the Watergate scandal reached a fever pitch, avoiding any impeachment proceedings and effectively guaranteeing himself a pardon courtesy of his successor. That would be Gerald Ford, who issued it almost immediately. Ah, Gerald: the only President never elected to office.
In celebrating kicking it with Tha Dogg Pound – “fuck it, Warren’s going wild!” – the G is slyly interpolating a phrase from Dr. Dre’s “Lyrical Gangbang,” a posse cut that appeared on 1992’s The Chronic. The original phrase was “fuck it, nigga’s going wild,” but this is Warren’s show and he’ll flip as he pleases.
Though he was Dre’s stepbrother, Warren only made one appearance on The Chronic, kickstarting “Deeez Nuuuts.” Thankfully, it was all it took, and an entire generation of West Coast talent – Snoop, Daz Dillinger, Nate Dogg, Warren G and Kurupt – built their careers off the record.
The high-pitched “ohh! ahh!” exclamations that first appear at 0:59 and 1:04 are lifted from another classic track from the G-Funk pantheon: Mista Grimm’s “Indo Smoke,” included on the soundtrack to 1993’s Poetic Justice. “Indo Smoke” is best remembered for the guest appearances from Nate Dogg and Warren G himself, who debuts one of his most famous phrases – “hey, now you now / inhale, exhale, with my flow,” later used on Snoop’s “Ain’t No Fun” – on the smoke-heavy cut. Grimm himself released a solo debut, 1995’s Things Are Looking Grimm, but after it failed to chart, he all but vanished.
We touched on it back at “Regulate,” but Warren’s G-funk mantra – “where rhythm is life, and life is rhythm” – is lifted from an obscure electro-rap record parodying a British television host.
“Runnin’ wit No Breaks”
The riff that enters at 0:05 is sourced from Les McCann’s “Go On and Cry,” a track from his 1974 LP, Another Beginning. Warren took the basis of this beat from Snoop’s Doggystyle-era cut “Tha Next Episode,” which made use of the very same flips. It wasn’t included on the final version of the record, and Dre’s subsequent hit single, the Snoop-featuring “The Next Episode,” is an entirely different composition altogether.
McCann is most famous for his 1969 live album, Swiss Movement, which was recorded at Montreux Jazz Festival alongside saxophonist Eddie Harris and trumpeter Benny Bailey. It became a massive crossover success, peaking at #29 on the Billboard 200. The album popularised the idea of recording live albums at Montreux, which has since become a classic event for laying live LPs.
The sampled break that presages Jah Skillz energetic entry is courtesy of Kool & The Gang, though not a song you’re likely to recognise. Though “N.T.” is one of the samples I come across most often, it’s hardly a hit, having featured on an early live LP from the yet-successful outfit. Despite this, it’s home to one of the most popular breakbeats of all time. Dre was a particularly ardent fan of the beat, using it on N.W.A’s “Gangsta Gangsta” and “Niggaz 4 Life,” JJ Fad’s “Let’s Get Hyped” and Snoop’s “Tha Next Episode.” It seems likely that he passed it down to Warren in the same way that he seems to have instilled it in Ice Cube, who used it on Da Lench Mob’s “Ankle Blues.”
What’s Next, What’s Next, What’s N-X-E-T?
The infamous spelling gaffe on “What’s Next” is a good little insight into Warren’s contagious approach. In an interview with Jimmy Ness, Warren recalled the session: “I was freestyling and I was like ‘you know what, I’m not getting ready to change this shit.’ So I was like ‘fuck it.’” Ness didn’t even bring up the fact that Warren misspells his own name on the very same track, though that gaffe is usually overshadowed by the titular error.
I think the fact that Warren kept that kind of lyrical slip in the finished cut speaks tones about his creative attitude. Sure, he’s not the greatest emcee to come out of Long Beach – he’s not even the best rapper to come out of his former trio, 213 – but Warren’s keen ear and distinctive style both shaped and defined the mid-’90s zeitgeist.
The extensive guest list on Regulate… G Funk Era speaks to this fact, suggesting that G himself might have recognised the limits of his pen game. Though his verses throughout hit right, he shares the mic with a swathe of friends and colleagues. They’re not exactly household names, so let’s break down just who these artists are…
Regulate… G Funk Era: The Collaborators
Warren knows a thing or two about the transformative power of the guest spot. In featuring him on The Chronic, however briefly, his half-brother Dr. Dre helped him break out onto the burgeoning West Coast scene. It makes sense that, in the pursuit of similar greatness, Warren would furnish his record with a score of talented friends and associates. Whereas The Chronic turned out a handful of household names, Regulate… G Funk Era failed to launch any era-defining careers of movements.
Nate Dogg, who contributed his smooth proto-vocoder tenor to “Regulate,” is amongst the most revered hip hop vocalists of all time. Nate’s approach to melody and tone is unorthodox, and his smooth singing voice sometimes seems as though it’d be at odds with the violent edge of Warren’s lyrics. It never is. In chasing one of his most violent phrases – “I laid all them bustas down, I let my gat explode” – with one of his most sexually charged – “now I’m switchin’ my mind back into freak mode” – Nate proves his versatility, turning from hate to love on a dime. It’s got to be one of the coldest juxtapositions in hip-hop history.
Sure, everyone knows Nate, but most G-Funk fans would be caught up on B-Tip and Ricky Harris. Their names may not be their most recognisable assets, but their performances have more than earned them a place in the West Coast pantheon.
B-Tip, real name James Brown, is an actor and emcee from Long Beach. His two appearances on this record remain his most prominent guest spots, and though he’s released a couple of records of his own, they’re independent LPs that’ve flown well under the radar.
Ricky Harris, a comedian in his own right, made his first foray into hip-hop with Yo-Yo’s Make Way For The Motherlode. In 1993, he featured on “W Balls,” one of a few classic skits included on Snoop’s Doggystyle, and reprised his interlude duties on Warren’s debut. He later appeared in the Dr. Dre and Fab Five Freddy-directed Murder Was The Case, a short film and soundtrack from Snoop Dogg, before linking up with Tha Dogg Pound and reuniting with Warren and Snoop. He’s most associated with the 1990s, during which time he also appeared in films such as Poetic Justice, Tales from the Hood, Heat and Hard Rain. He died of a heart attack in late 2016, just one year after starring in acclaimed coming-of-age drama, Dope.
Warren pulls out The Twinz – the Long Beach rap duo, just to be clear – for “Recognise,” on which emcees Trip Locc and Wayniac spit verses between the Snoop-sampling refrain. This guest spot marked their first appearance on commercially released wax, and it wasn’t until 1995 that they released their first record, Conversation. Not only was almost every track produced by Warren, but he also featured on four songs. Ultimately, Conversation would turn out to be their sole LP, though they would continue to feature on work from Warren G and Foesum.
Though her career was marred by difficulties, Jah Skillz was an integral part of Warren’s G-Funk Entertainment team. Her two appearances on Regulate… G Funk Era, “Super Soul Sis” and “Runnin’ Wit No Breaks,” marked her first guest spots. She soon followed them with a feature on The Twinz’ “Hollywood,” a Warren G-produced cut from their 1995 debut, and a spot on Warren’s own “We Brings Heat” from 1997’s Take A Look Over Your Shoulder (Reality). She later appeared on two tracks from Ras Kass and, in the early 2000s, laid records with five-piece outfit Tha Five Footaz. The projects were shelved and, to this day, Jah continues to lay low.
Lady Levi had already honed her craft when she linked up with Warren, releasing her debut album, The Legend of Lady Levi, through Motown in 1991. It failed to make an impact, and remains her only solo record, though she collaborated with acts such as Warren G and Teena Marie in the mid-’90s.
Undeniably the most mysterious of the contributors, O.G.L.B hardly even seems to exist. His feature on “This DJ” remains his sole credit and, as such, he’s got very little in the way of online resources. As per his verse, the emcee hails from Long Beach, California, and whilst he doesn’t elaborate on his acronym of an alias, it seems likely it’s a combination of two phrases mentioned in verse: “original gangster” and “Long Beach.”
The Dove Shack were another act signed to Warren’s G-Funk Entertainment imprint which, though still operational, is far less active than it was at the turn of the century. Like Jah Skillz and The Twinz before them, The Dove Shack debuted on Regulate… G Funk Era, and they followed their turn on “This Is The Shack” with a debut LP of the same name. They scored their own Hot 100 hit with single “Summertime in the LBC,” included on the soundtrack to hip hop documentary The Show. They followed that record up with 2000’s Reality Has Got Me Tied Up, and they continued to appear on jams from Daddy V, Bo Roc and Goldie Loc well into the millennium.
Mr. Malik is best known as one-half of juvenile hip hop duo Illegal, though even then, he’s oft forgotten. Malik Edwards and Jamal Phillips, emcees hailing from South Carolina and Pennsylvania respectively, were just 14-years-old when they released The Untold Truth, an aggressive street-ready record seemingly at odds with their age. It contained disses towards Kris Kross and Da Youngstas, their young hip hop peers, and though Illegal may have staked a better claim to true hip hop skill, their careers were short lived. The group broke up in 1995, and though Jamal released his solo debut that same year, Mr. Malik had no such luck. Even though he’d appeared on records from his cousin Snoop, Tha Dogg Pound and Warren G, struck up a rapport with EPMD’s Hit Squad and dropped an album with Illegal, his debut project was shelved and, to this day, all that exists is a single from the mythical record.
On A Mission, Tryna’ Grind, Mr. Warren G…
In the end, the sonic design comes down to Warren G himself, the sole producer throughout his debut LP. You can’t help but respect the way in which Warren puts on a swathe of lesser-known Long Beach artists – whilst he could have easily called in Snoop or Dre, or featured Nate on track after track, Warren chose to assemble his own stable of talent and turn in a truly unique record.
After Regulate… G Funk Era, Warren went on to further success. His sophomore album, 1997’s Take A Look Over Your Shoulder, featured Top 20 hit “I Shot The Sheriff” and Ronald Isley-featuring single “Smokin’ Me Out,” and though the record failed to reach the heights of his debut, it was certified Gold and received generally positive appraisal. Over the course of the 18 tracks, Warren linked up with collaborators such as Mr. Malik, The Twinz, Da Five Footaz, Ricky Harris and Nate Dogg.
It wasn’t until 1999 that Warren reached out to some of his more immediately famous friends. I Want It All features appearances from his more immediately recognisable peers, including Nate, Snoop, RBX, Tha Dogg Pound, Eve, Slick Rick and even Memphis Bleek. It still hit #21 on the Billboard 200, though just one single – “I Want It All” featuring Mack 10 – managed to chart, peaking at #23 on the Billboard 100.
After spending the tail end of the 1990s rapping less and shaking off his gangster image, Warren returned to his regulating roots with 2001’s The Return of the Regulator. The posse with which Warren rode wasn’t the same as seven years prior, now counting emcees such as Mista Grimm, CPO Boss Hog, Kokane, Ms. Toi and Butch Cassidy amongst his ranks. He continued to toil throughout the 2000s, dropping the critically well-received but commercially placid In The Mid-Nite Hour in 2005 and The G Files in 2009.
These would be his last efforts until 2015, when he returned with an unlikely sequel: Regulate… G Funk Era, Pt. II. A five-track EP, it featured contributions from E-40, Too Short, Jeezy, Bun B and Nate Dogg, who posthumously guested on four of the cuts. Chief amongst these was “My House,” which came complete with a music video.
It shows a Warren untouched by time – older in years, to be sure, but young in spirit. The video shows him with friends, playing dominoes and barbecuing between shots of lowriders and energized crowds. Yes, it has Jake Paul in it, but we shouldn’t hold that against the G-Child. Times are changing, fame is fickle and appeal is an ever-present concern.
As the song closes, Warren smokes, back against a streetlight a la the Regulate art. Palm trees line the street that stretches out behind him, a Californian staple as synonymous with Hollywood as the rich strain of hip-hop culture Warren continues to represent. It’s both a callback and a reassurance: whilst it’s easy enough to assume that G-Funk is a thing of the past, it carries on in the work of Warren, a progenitor-turned-vanguard of hip-hop’s smoothest strain.