Warren G: The G-Code
The Long Beach, California native was much like his future peer from Chicago a producer who also wanted to rhyme that was initially not taken seriously as a solo spitter by his big brother in the game, only to wind up taking his mentors musical blueprint in a different direction with a smooth melodic sound uniquely his own.
Alongside childhood friends turned 213 groupmates Snoop and Nate, Warren was introduced to the world via his legendary older stepbrothers genre-altering masterpiece The Chronic, appearing on the hilarious intro skit to Deeez Nuuuts. But a then 21-year-old Warren Griffin, III, who didnt actually spit one rhyme on The Chronic, had to launch his career as an emcee via the following years Poetic Justice Soundtrack on Warren discovery Mista Grimms Indo Smoke. Unfortunately, the G-Childs coming out party as a rapper was about as impressive as Kanyes national Rap debut on Jay-Zs Blueprint 2 selection The Bounce. Thankfully, later that year, much like Ye would do exactly ten years later, Warren began redeeming himself as an artist in his own right, first on Aint No Fun from Snoops Doggystyle debut, and finally putting all non-believers doubts in his ability to stand on his own two feet to rest alongside Nates gangsta crooning on the laidback Michael McDonald-sampling storytelling track Regulate for the Above The Rim Soundtrack.
With his G-Funk sound now in-demand, Warren began banging out classic cuts for 2Pac (Definition of a Thug Nigga and How Long Will They Mourn Me?), Slick Rick (the single version remix of The Rulers lockdown diary Behind Bars) and various other artists for album tracks and remixes. But it was surprisingly his own hit songs, the aforementioned platinum-certified Regulate and the gold-selling This D.J., that catapulted his career into the stratosphere in the mid-90s.
But matching the commercial success of his triple-platinum debut full-length, RegulateG Funk Era, proved hard to do. Although he continued to produce certified classics like fellow LBC natives the Twinz' Conversation LP, and his subsequent two solo efforts, 1997s Take A Look Over Your Shoulder (Reality) and 1999s I Want It All, both went gold, Warrens popularity as an artist and producer faded as the 90s came to a close and Dres more aggressive gothic Gangsta Funk replaced his lil bros easy listening creations as the soundbed of choice for most westsiders.
With only two albums in the 2000s (not counting the long-delayed 213 full-length The Hard Way in 04), Warren has become more recognizable in recent years for his appearance on VH1s Celebrity Fit Club than for anything music-related. But with recent productions for Wale (Rhyme N Reason), Gucci Mane (Crush On You) and others officially announcing the G-Childs return to the scene as a hitmaker-for-hire, and next months release of his sixth solo effort, The G Files, set to school a whole new generation of fans as to why Warren G was a solo rap star before he was a reality TV contestant, the self-proclaimed creator of G-Funk is firmly back on his music grind. He may not have a multi-platinum fanbase anymore like Kanye currently possesses, but the original rapper/producer with something to prove demonstrated in his recent discussion with HipHopDX that Ye isnt the only spittin sound-provider who aint afraid to remind all of his worth to the game.
HipHopDX: I dont wanna start off on such a heavy note, but I just wanted to get an update on how your 213 p-n-c Nate Dogg is doing.
Warren G: Hes in recovery. Its [a] kinda slow recovery right now, but he getting better. Ive seen himand justpraying and hoping that he recover faster so we can do this good music.
DX: Nate is on The G Files?
Warren G: Yeah hes on The G Files. Its a record we did back in the day. Not back, back in the day, but a couple years ago. Me and him had recorded a whole bunch of songs. I got a lot of em. Actually we recorded [some of them shortly] before he had the [first] stroke. We recorded about at least sixmaybe eight records, where he just did like hooks and stuff.
DX: You gonna try to get that stuff out to the people?
Warren G: Yeah I will, but I mean, Im saving a lot of that stuff for when he recovers too.
DX: Well lets get into the new album. First off, whyd you cut that Mr. DJ track [click to listen] from the final tracklist? That shit was too fly!
Warren G: I couldnt put it on there cause I didnt wanna end up with a lawsuit. I couldnt remember where I got the sample from. [Laughs] Believe me, I want it on there so bad right now. That was an incredible record.
DX: That track had a nice pimpalicious vibe.
Warren G: Oh yeah, its just letting people know Warren G, Im not a slouch. I gets down.
DX: Lets Get High [click to listen] has a cool, grown and sexy vibe to it, the flute-driven She Got Her Own Ringtone has a smooth, breezy top-down sound, and Crush is like one of the best R&B-driven Hip Hop tracks in recent memory the video for that is really clever too. So is the sound of the rest of the album that grown-folk g-funk?
Warren G: Yeah it is. Thats what I do. Its there. I got a song called Drinks Aint Free. It sound crazy, but the story is like the drinks aint gon be free for you unless you wit me. You wit me then the drinks gon be free, then we can pop bottles and do all that other stuff. That oneI got a song called Suicide that I did with RBX [click to read] thats dope. I got 100 Miles and Runnin, the record I did with Raekwon [click to read] and Nate Dogg. Actually, I take that back, that record was done about a year-and-a-half ago.
DX: And you just added Rae to it recently?
Warren G: Yeah, I added him [to the track] recently. We had linked up. We was actually both heading back to L.A. from the [NBA All-Star Game] and ran into each other at the gas station. And I always wanted to work with him, and he wanted to work with me, so we got in there and busted it down.
DX: Back to the sound of the new music Can the G-funk sound work in a new west era? I personally love that more straight-ahead Somethin To Bounce To smooth shit, but I wonder if cats now think that shit sounds too 90s for them to get down with.
Warren G: It cant be too 90s. [Laughs] I meanpshhh, manThe music I do is gon jump off no matter what era, in what time frame, in whatever my music is gon work. Actually, the reason why Drake is winning right now is because he is on that type of music that we was on. Thats why he winning. So I mean, its just a lot of the stuff right now to me is like a fad. The Auto-Tune and all that, thats a fad. Now T-Pain [click to read], he started that and hes good at it. So hes the G of that. But its a 100,000 other people trying to do the same thing because thats whats in. Its a fad.
DX: I asked you that question about this new west era cause I wanted to segue to this questionYou got a track on The G Files called West is Back, what are you saying specifically on that cut about the coast?
Warren G: The west is back! Regulatin Warren G made it pop, yall gave us KRS-One [click to read], we gave yall [2Pac]. Thats the West is Back. Its just breaking it down to likeIts about me. And my guys [Halla and Mr. Lucc] are rappin on there. Im not even rappin on it. Its just an introduction to what Ive done By me letting them artists get down, they breaking it down and telling yall about where were from, and this is what it is, the west is back. And this is whats on the west. This is who started the west, and made the west crack, these names thats being mentioned [in the song].
DX: You basically gave new west-er Bishop Lamont his first real exposure on your last solo album in 05, In The Mid-Nite Hour. So how much of a role are you playing in Bishops career right now?
Warren G: I just gave him a beat the other day, with a Nate Dogg hook on it. Its called Faded. I like Bishop [click to read]. I think hes a good artist, and he gets it and understands. Thats why I delt with him because he one of those artists that understand and know how to listen, and when I tell him, "Okay, this is what I want you to do over this track," he understands.
DX: Speaking of Bishop, on his Gorilla Pimpin 5008 track from last year you spit, A livin legend every rapper on the west should thank/East coast too, ask Russell hell tell the truth.
Warren G: [Laughs] And he will tell the truth! Its basically saying I put it down and I put all of these people in the game. I put Snoop Dogg [click to read] in the game. I put Nate Dogg in the game. I put Daz [click to read], Kurupt [click to read], RBX, Bishop LamontI put these people in the game. They all got put in the game by me. And then Ive helped out people fromIve worked with Dr. Dre and brought him Snoop Dogg. That changed the whole west coast. When I dropped my [first] album, that changed the west coast musically. And then, in New York when Def Jam was in a hole [in 94] guess who saved em? Warren G. Warren G saved em. They made 100 million dollars [because of me]. Thats what it is. Thats all Im talking about [in that verse]. I aint dissin nobody. But I would like to get a thanks from some of the artists out there, at least a call like, "Hi Warren, are you okay? You should be straight for life."
DX: You sold something like five million albums for Russell during your tenure with his label, but you coulda sold them albums with Death Row instead, why didnt you? Why did the west coast Warren G go to the east coast Def Jam to drop them first two albums?
Warren G: Because it wasnt no room for me over there. I wasnt being treated like I was up-and-coming next. I mean, even thoughactually, they really didnt understand what I was doing. I felt kinda like I was taken as a joke. So, I chose to move on. And I dont mean that as far as justcause we used to clown a lot, so I guess people didnt really take me that serious. So I guess thats just you give what you get. And so I guess they wasnt taking me serious, so I just went out there [and] started doing my thing, because a lot was going on and I wasnt being involved in it, and I was hurt that I wasnt involved. I wasnt there with you guys at a lot of the parties or this, that and this. I was hurt when I didnt get a ticket to get on the airplane to go to New Orleans. I didnt get a ticket. I was hurt, so I went and did my thing. And Russell [Simmons] gave me an opportunity. Chris Lighty gave me an opportunity. And Lyor Cohen [gave me an opportunity]. All three of those guys called me personally and talked to me on the phone. They helped me with the problems that I was going through and stuff like that. And they made a way for me to let people hear my music.
DX: I understand there was some dispute too over production credits with Tha Row. Can you clarify just one last time if you actually produced any part of Lil Ghetto Boy, Aint No Fun, etc?
Warren G: I didnt have no dispute with [Death Row Records] about no [production credits]. I havent had no dispute as far as working on The Chronic. The Chronic record was a family thang. We all was one and doing this together. Now, I went and got a lot of ideas. I brought a lot of the ideas A lot of those records thats on there is my idea, but Im not trying to take the credit for it because Dre is a great producer. Im glad I was involved in it and had a idea thats history now. But it was a family thang. As family we all worked as one. I would do the record and I would take it to Dre and say, "Man, whatchu think about this?" And he would be like, "Thats tight." And then he would re-do it and make it sound incredible. I mean, hes a great producer. Hes a great producer, and still is.
DX: Since were talking about the Death Row days, can we just address one piece of longstanding folklore from that era involving youIs there any truth to the story that you said something to the effect of you made Death Row to a writer from The Source and not too long after that woke up in the middle of the night to Suge Knights goons standing over your bed with guns?
Warren G: You believe that? I said it. And Ima say I said [that to The Source]. But its the other part as far as goons beingfirst of all, how you gon get past my dogs and my homeboys? It dont even roll like that. You gotta be a hell of a muthafucka, maybe a Navy Seal they gon even have problems trying to come get at me. [So] thats all false. And as far as any allegations of me ever getting slapped, that can go right out the window [too]. Cause I wasnt allowing that and I wont allow it. That aint me.
DX: Thats interesting you bring that up I was going through your Twitter and you just posted a couple days ago, on August 9th, you wrote @Slick_Al and by the way Suge Knight aint never put his hands on the g child and thats a fact.
Warren G: And its a fact. And Im not saying that as far as trying to start some shit saying like Im this hell of a muthafucka, but it just wasnt going down like that. And real respect the real. And thats what it was. I aint gon say, "Well nigga, you," nah, I aint into all that. And I dont have a problem with the dude. I aint got no problem with [Suge]. He aint never came and whateverHe never came trippin on me. I mean, you knowpshhh, man, look, Warren G aint never got slapped by Suge Knight. That aint gon happen. And Im not trying to act like Im this tough-ass muthafucka like the rest of these muthafuckas with the fighting and all that shit. I aint into that. I aint trying to just diss this nigga cause heEverybody get they day where they get into it and lose [a fight]. You gon lose one. So I aint one of them muthafuckas who speaking up on him cause he lost one. Suckas gon do that. Everybody talking aboutI aint got nothing against him, but I aint gon fuck with him. I fuck with Snoop. I fuck with Dre. Them my folks. And if its something happening with them, and Im there, Im with them. But all that stuff is old. Were past that. Hes a grown man. Everybody was young back in the day. Dres a grown man. Im a grown man. Snoop a grown man. Everybody else is grown. Its time to look past this stuff. He got kids. Everybody got kids. Its time to be fathers and be role models to these kids. And Im not gon spend my whole lifetime hating this man. I dont hate him. Ima move on. Ima keep pushing. I aint got time for that.
DX: Speaking of moving on, I dont know how much you can, or will reveal, but you know I gotta ask you about Detox. Have you worked with Dre on anything for the album?
Warren G: I havent worked with him on it yet. Actually, you know what, I did work with him as far as we had a bunch of records and we were going through the records and marking off potential ideas. Thats about it. I havent been back in there since, but hopefully Ill be able to get down with him. And itd be an honor. I wanna be a part of this last record.
DX: Just out of curiosity All these years later does Dre see you as a peer, or does he still give you the little brother treatment?
Warren G: Both. [Laughs] Its both, but I mean he show me mines. He gives me my respect like he did in The Show. He was like, "If I [had] known the nigga was gon sell two million records, three million records, Ida been fuckin wit the nigga. I didnt even know." [Laughs] But we did the damnall the ideas, shit! [Laughs] But its all good. Thats my guy.
DX: We talked about Dre, lets talk about Snoop. Hes on your new album, on Swagger Rich. And when I saw that in the credits it just made me think to ask how come youve never officially produced anything on a Snoop Dogg solo album?
Warren G: Hey [blows smoke out], you got to ask him that one. I mean, cause itsIve always extended my helping hand.
DX: So you did submit tracks to Snoop and they just didnt get used or?
Warren G: I mean, I always offered. I mean, if he dont wanna use a track I cant force it on him. But, I make hits. Thats what I do. But, hey, it is what it is.
DX: I dont really wanna end as we began on a heavier note, but I gotta ask you about MC Breed. You produced his classic collabo with Tupac, Gotta Get Mine, and so I wanted to get your thoughts on the loss of Breed from the Hip Hop community.
Warren G: One of the greatest people in the world. I loved him deeply. If I kinda sit there and I think about it a lot Ima drive myself crazy, because that was one of the first cats to give me a shot, at producing for him for one of his records. So, I kinda likeIm hurt like a muthafucka, but its like I gotta kinda control my hurt, cause its not only that, its like him MC Breed, Tupac, my mama, like a lot of close friends, you know its a lot, my mother-in-law, its a lot, a lot! So you gotta try to stay sane Id say, especially when you got four kids. So, its much love to him, and Im ridin wit him. Its a documentary that they doing on him. Im definitely gonna be involved. That was my guy. I had major love for him.