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‘Regulate… G Funk Era’: Warren G’s Hit Debut Album

Spearheaded by the crossover smash ‘Regulate,’ the album was a huge hit for Def Jam.

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Cover: Courtesy of Def Jam Records

In 1994, the legendary Def Jam label was saved by Warren G. At least, that’s how hip-hop folklore likes to tell it. Originally founded in 1984 out of a New York University college dorm room by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, Def Jam introduced the world to an untouchable who’s who of golden era hip-hop royalty, headed up by Public Enemy’s abrasive polemics, LL COOL J’s cocksure braggadocio, and the Beastie Boys’s hell-raising punk bravado. But a decade after Def Jam launched, hip-hop’s commercial path had wandered from the label’s stripped-down uncompromising sonics in favor of more tuneful radio-friendly sounds.

Listen to Warren G’s Regulate… G Funk Era now.

Enter Warren G, an amiable laid back producer and MC who happened to be Dr. Dre‘s step-brother. A resident of Long Beach, California, Warren G embraced the melodious synth-saturated menace of G-Funk – a gangsterized cousin of sorts to 1970s P-funk – and handed Def Jam a debut album, Regulate… G Funk Era, that was spearheaded by the crossover smash “Regulate.” The song tells the tale of Warren G and hip-hop crooner Nate Dogg cruising around the Eastside of Long Beach and becoming embroiled in a payback shootout to the accompaniment of production that calls on an extended sample of Michael McDonald’s emotionally overcast 1982 hit “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near).” The success of “Regulate” helped propel Regulate… G Funk Era to eventual triple platinum status and charted a new course for Def Jam.

Warren G - Regulate (Official Music Video) ft. Nate Dogg

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Alongside classics from Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg, “Regulate” endures as one of G-Funk’s most iconic songs – and the rest of Warren G’s studio debut displays a similar commitment to the sub-genre’s credo. Fellow Long Beach representers The Twinz and The Dove Shack appear on the sinewey “Recognize” and sun-blissed “This Is The Shack” respectively, and Snoop Dogg reputedly penned the hook to the album’s second single, “This DJ,” which spotlights Warren G reminiscing about youthful days playing basketball with Snoop’s older brother.

Warren G’s ability on the mic has often been overshadowed by his harmonious production abilities, but on Regulate… G Funk Era he proves to be a confident and genial rap raconteur. Case in point: On “Do You See,” a bluesy spoken word snippet from Gil Scott-Heron prompts verses that spotlight the MC reflecting on the ups and downs of his path to success in tandem with childhood friends Snoop and Nate Dogg. After recalling a conversation with an incarcerated Snoop, Warren G takes stock of his own life choices: “Should I, A: Go back to slanging dope?/ Or should I, B: Maintain and try to cope?/ Or should I, C: Just get crazy and wild?/ But, no, I chose D: Create the G-Child.” It’s a savvy decision that established Warren G’s musical career.

Listen to Warren G’s Regulate… G Funk Era now.

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