When legendary vocalist Nate Dogg died on March 15, 2011, the Hip Hop community lost one of the genre’s most distinctive talents. His voice carried over some of Rap’s greatest hits, including 50 Cent’s #1 hit “21 Questions” and his infamous 1994 collaboration with partner Warren G "Regulate," which peaked at #2. Along with the loss to Nate’s family and Hp Hop fans worldwide, his best friend and mostly closely associated collaborator Warren G was left without a partner and is still feeling the pain.
Earlier this month, Warren G dropped "This Is Dedicated To You" on Big Boy's Neighborhood, the syndicated Los Angeles-based morning radio show. The song is now available through most digital music retailers and proceeds will go directly to Nate Dogg's mother and the Nate Dogg Foundation, a fund created by Snoop Dogg to benefit Nate’s children. Still, there is hardly any consolation for Warren G, who hopes to raise money for the fund by releasing Nate’s recordings posthumously.
“I’m going to keep it going for him and for his legacy,” he said. “I’m going to still keep doing G-Funk and riding with Nate, forever.”
In a candid interview with HipHopDX, Warren G talks about his past, present, the loss of his friend and answers his own personal critics.
HipHopDX: What has the last month been like for you?
Warren G: It’s been kind of hectic. Losing my buddy Nate Dogg, going through that, has kind of been on my shoulders all the time. I’m praying for his Mom and his family, they’re going to miss Nate. That’s been what’s up. I’ve still been working through it and doing music. Producing is what I do and I’m an artist. It’s been pretty rough. I just dropped a song dedicated to Nate, all the proceeds go to his mom and kids. It’s called “This is dedicated to You” and it’s a record that I did just to let people know how I feel and how I felt during the times I saw him in the position he was in. It was hard and a lot of people wanted to talked to me about this, that and this, but I really didn’t want to talk to nobody. It’s a cycle of life and we just have to understand that God don’t make no mistakes and this is a part of life that you have to go through.
DX: When did you first know Nate's health was failing?
Warren G: I didn’t. My understanding from when I used to go see him was that he was progressing and he was. From me seeing him from when he first went into therapy to when I last seen him, he was doing good. He was able to respond to you and indicate yes or no and things like that. It was just a heavy blow for that to happen. I was out on tour with Snoop [Dogg] and maybe two days before that I was talking to Cee Lo [Green] about Nate and was telling him that I wanted to do a record and let everybody know what was up with my [Nate Dogg] and how he was doing. We were in Texas and right after we got off the stage is when we got the call. Nate’s cousin is one of my best friends and he called me and told me and I couldn’t believe it. I had to start making calls and when I called his mom she told me it was real. That kind of really bent me up, man. I had to tell Snoop and it was hard.
DX: When did you actually meet Nate? Do you remember how it all happened?
Warren G: When we first met, we used to get into it all the time. After all the stuff that we’d went through we ended up being the best of friends. We became brothers. I know Nate and his younger brother since we were little kids at the park. He was always a solid dude and if I didn’t want to get on a flight or something and he’d call me and be like “Warren, you need to get your ass on that plane.” He’d always get at me like “Get out there, go out and work for your family.” He was that kind of cat. He was an amazing influence. Then, as far as his music, when he sang something, its what he really felt. He was telling you exactly what he meant. He would do it through music and he would do it face to face, eye-to-eye contact.
DX: 213's demo is awesome. As rap, like Jazz and Blues artists start releasing demos, could he ever seeing putting that one out?
Warren G: Nah, that ain’t [happening]. I didn’t like the way I was rapping then, so I’m definitely not for it. [Hearty laughter] I’d think about it. Even when I listen to some of my other albums I say “I should have done this or maybe I should have done it this.” I’m hard on myself.
That was like 1988 or 1989. We had a bunch of songs on there, one called “Long Beach Is A Motherfucker.” We were trying to make it. We were doing demos and performing at clubs. We put it everywhere. We’d make our own copies and give them to away to people. There weren’t no computers, it was all cassettes and it traveled all the way from Long Beach to Compton, Carson, Watts, Los Angeles, Pamona and it got all the way down to Oakland. People were like, “Who are these guys?” We was 2-1-3. Yes indeed.
DX: Yourself, DJ Quik, Dr. Dre and Big Hutch are all credited as pioneers of G-Funk. What do you think each's signature sound/contribution is?
Warren G: G-Funk is Warren G. G-Funk is Warren G, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, RBX, Daz [Dillinger], [The Lady of] Rage – that’s G-Funk. Outside of that, I mean. It’s what we created. I’m the first one to really do it. I started it. It came when we did The Chronic [by Dr. Dre]. Actually, when I did [Mista Grimm's] “Indo Smoke” and when I did “Regulate.” I started G-Funk, that’s taking some gangsta shit and putting a melody to it and having a guy – which was Nate Dogg – sing some soulful gangsta shit about how he felt. That was G-Funk.
DX: What about yourself, what is the stamp you left on G-Funk?
Warren G: Just through doing my albums. I wasn’t on Death Row [Records] as an artist, I was doing my own thing. That’s when I started, really started doing it how I do it. I am G-Funk. I got the credit for it. I [made] Regulate: The G-Funk Era, that’s me.
DX: Can you talk about this dedication track and how it came together?
Warren G: I was getting a lot of people asking me what’s up with Nate and on Twitter and Facebook or whatever. I got so tired of dealing with it all the time that I wanted to do a song for them to let them know what was going on and I felt about what Nate was going through. That was it.
DX: How does the whole thing work? How does someone go about teaming up with iTunes to release a track to raise money for a cause like this?
Warren G: What happens is, Snoop, Stampede [Management] and [The] Cashmere [Agency] put a trust fund that Nate’s mother controls. Everything that comes in is automatically going to be routed right to the trust account for Nate Dogg and his family. The reason for that is to make sure that she is taken care of and that Nate’s kids are taken care of. He was one of the main guys that worked hard for his family.
DX: What has the response been so far?
Warren G: It’s been overwhelming. Everybody has been loving it. I actually read a comment that some dude said. It kind of ticked me off. Some dude said “it took for your homeboy to die for you to make a classic record.” Why would you even say something like that? It’s the dedication record. I’ve do have a bunch of great records, and I’m still working. Give me a chance to work and put out music before you say something like that. I’ve been doing this. Me and Nate been doing this, we ain’t changed. We still do the music. Look at yourself before you say that. I’m still Warren and I still do Warren. I ain’t changed a bit. I ain’t on no Electro-Hip Hop shit. I’m still doing what I do.
DX: What was your favorite song of Nate’s that you weren’t on?
Warren G: “Never Leave Me Alone” was a great record. He was going through all these trials and tribulations. It like to his girl and to the fans, “Don’t ever leave me alone. Keep riding with me, this is who I am, so y'all stay with me.” Everybody can relate to that. The world is hard and he was trying to say that “If I wasn’t singing and I was out there getting caught, I still need my family to stay down.” How it is on the streets right now is, people leave you alone if they think you’ve changed or you don’t got the big money no more. It’s like when that happens everybody goes away, but then you have certain people that fuck with you, still. Those people are true, so, he was saying to all those people “Never Leave Me Alone.” That’s what it did for me and he left if for those people to hear that.
DX: Who were some of those down-people at the end of Nate’s life?
DX: What are you up to for the rest of the summer?
Warren G: I’m working, just working. I’m working on an EP that I’m getting ready to drop. It’s going to be five or six records with me, Nate and I got E-40, DJ Quik, Game, B.o.B. and Cee Lo said he would get down with me. All these people should be part of the EP, and I’m going to drop that mid-summer. It’s going to be nice, it’s records that people haven’t heard. Me and Nate did like two or three albums of shit that people haven’t heard. I’m going to do that just to keep his legacy up and let people he isn’t going anywhere – he’s still rocking.
DX: The plan is to release the material in the immediate future?
Warren G: People want that. They want that, they want Warren G and that’s what it is. Music is so electric now that they’re starting to want that real soulfulness again and that’s what we provide. I’m going to keep it going for him and for his legacy. I’m going to still keep doing G-Funk and riding with Nate, forever. It’s pretty hard to go through stuff like this and I know what his mom and everyone else is going through. I’ve been through that. I lost my mother, my grandfather, two aunties and my mother-in-law almost like all in one shot.
DX: It seems like you’re still dealing with those issues.
Warren G: You become numb to a lot and that’s reason why people probably haven’t seen me doing a lot of the music or this and that. I’m still hurting from that. I’m still hurt from losing my moher. That’s a feeling you never get over. It’s hard, but it’s a cycle of life and something we have to deal with. I’m just trying to be the best I can be to my kids and let them really get to know me and know who I am, so, when I get old and shit I’ll be able to clown with my grandkids. I want them to say that their grandfather was the best.
DX: What was the last conversation you had with Nate?
Warren G: I had went to see him right before I went [on tour] with Snoop. I had went to see him and I just sat there and played music. I called a bunch of our friends to let them say hi to them. He just laughed. I found a channel and put basketball on for him. I was just there trying to help him. I wanted to help in any way I could. He would laugh so hard, he would laugh and I was just happy to know that he was cheered up.
He couldn’t talk. If he could he would have. He didn’t like being where he was at in that place. He was trying to get better and get out of there. He was a child of God and he was raised in the church. He had just started work with Gospel groups. He was getting into Gospel music and there wasn’t going to be no more “I got hoes..." He was going to the church side of music. He brought people from the church to my studio and had them singing on one of my tracks. We didn’t finish it.
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