The year was 2002. I was 11 years old, and my mom was driving me to my homie Leon's birthday party, where we would see The Scorpion King in theaters, hoop in his backyard, and watch adult pornography for the first time.
We swung by Barnes and Noble's music section en route to the party to pick out a present. Leon, whose dad owned the largest vinyl shop in Seattle, had already developed a sophisticated taste for rap that revolved around Eminem, DMX, and Limp Bizkit, so I knew I had to come correct. As I perused B&N's hip hop aisle, letting my fingertips caress the wall of CDs, I instinctively came to a stop at Return of the Regulator by Warren G. At this time in my life, I had never heard of Warren G. But here on this black and white album cover was Warren leaning against a lamppost, staring down the camera's fish-eye lens, basically looking cool as shit. Oh yes, I thought. This will do nicely.
Warren came up in the early '90s in Long Beach with Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg and learned how to produce from his stepbrother Dr. Dre. ("I was in junior high school and I would sneak [Dre's] jacket and wear it to school. It had the World Class Wreckin’ Cru on it," he said in an interview with SkeeTV.)
"I was helping out with Dre on the Chronic – you know, me, Dre, Snoop, Daz, Kurupt, RBX, Rage, Nate Dogg," he told Rolling Stone in 2014. "I was buying old, Sixties, Seventies and early-Eighties R&B and soul and listening to a lot of soundtracks from Blaxploitation movies, just getting ideas and seeing how their lifestyle compared to ours and seeing what kind of knowledge I could get that would help me go further as a producer and as a rap artist."
Warren first achieved moderate success in 1993 with the "Indo Smoke," a collaboration with Nate Dogg and Mista Grimm that made the Poetic Justice soundtrack, and a verse on Snoop's "Ain’t No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None)," then broke out the following year with his triple platinum debut album Regulate... G Funk Era. Today, we celebrate Warren G's 47th birthday by revisiting a handful of his most indelible creations from G Funk Era............. and beyond.
"Regulate" feat. Nate Dogg
A motherfucking classic.
"Regulate" is the tale of Nate Dogg coming to rescue Warren G, who has been robbed at a dice game in the Eastside, only to be delayed by a car full of beautiful women. Nate and Warren wrote the song and located its scintillating Michael McDonald sample in Warren's apartment at the time, which was situated on "Long Beach Blvd and San Vicente in Long Beach, California," as Warren told RS. "That was the apartment I done "Regulate" in. I had all my equipment set up in the bedroom, a vocal booth in the bathroom and in the closet, and that's where we created it. I had an MPC 60, a Numark mixer, and a Technics 1200, and a ton of records."
Warren G's Twitter handle is @regulator.
"Do You See"
Being Warren G is a blessing and a curse, as he explains on "Do You See." He longs for the early days of 213, the days when his mom didn't have to worry about him gangbanging.
"So Many Ways" feat. Wayniac and Lady Levi
It's not hard to draw a line between the vocal styles of Warren G and Snoop Dogg. Warren's rhymes are nearly as smooth as his bald head.
"This DJ" feat. O.G.L.B.
"This DJ" contains the greatest shoutout to Schwinn bicycles in the history of music and would have been a hit if Death Row had permitted Snoop Dogg to make an appearance.
“Snoop sang the original hook on 'This DJ' but had to be taken off,” Warren told Pitchfork. “Someone quoted me saying that I built Death Row. I didn’t build it, but I definitely brought all my people there.”
"Summertime in the LBC"
Never has Long Beach appeared as such a paradise as it did in the sparkling, Warren G-produced "Summertime in the LBC," which appeared on G-funk trio The Dove Shack's 1995 album This is the Shack.
"I Shot the Sheriff"
Warren G envisioned himself as a frontier outlaw—the famous opening of "Regulate" samples the 1988 Western film Young Guns—which led him to G-funkify Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" on his sophomore album Take a Look Over Your Shoulder.
"Smokin' Me Out" feat. Ron Isley
Ron Isley's angelic voice is enough to carry any tune, but on "Smokin' Me Out," he sings a chorus seemingly written by Nate Dogg that subserviently rolls out the red carpet for the god Warren G.
"Nobody Does It Better" w/ Nate Dogg
"Nobody Does It Better" is probably the best Warren-Nate duet other than "Regulate." Here's Warren on the song's creation, as told by Noisey:
"We did another record called 'Nobody Does It Better' where we used a sample from Atlantic Starr called “Let’s Get Closer.' Once again that was one of those records that wasn’t a huge record back then, but after we did it, it turned into a monster. We were just glad to resurrect the artist that [came] before us, and it showed them that they were doing a lot of good work for us to sample. Then I blew it up, and it puts money back in their pocket. It’s like a thanks for all the good music that they brought all throughout the years."
"I Want It All" feat. Mack 10
The title track from Warren G's 1999 album I Want It All was his last single to crack the Billboard Hot 100. Not generally known for his hooks, Warren delivered a humble refrain ("I want it all/ brand new socks and drawers") catchy enough to make anyone within earshot head straight to Amazon to place an order for some fresh Gold Toes.
"I'm Fly" w/ Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg
Warren G didn't achieve much in the way of commercial success after the '90s, except for in 2004, when he reunited with Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to release 213's lone album The Hard Way. Never forget that "I'm Fly" is a masterpiece.