Artist: Warren G
Album: The Return Of The Regulator
Rating: 8 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Warren G is often overlooked when talking about West Coast rap music. People give props to his big brother Dre, his protege Snoop, the Dogg Pound etc, but despite really being one of the first to make G-Rap palatable to the pop charts with his ‘Regulate’ smash, Warren’s crown subsequently slipped with the sub-par second and third releases.
So now he stands at the crossroads of his career – he has 2 album failures behind him, while his brother seems incapable of doing no wrong, and his former 213 colleagues Snoop and Nate both blowing up radios worldwide. Can Warren live up to the title of this album? Is this going to be a welcome return?
In a word – Yup. This is easily the best release from Warren, surpassing even his triple platinum “Regulate” debut in terms of quality of music. (Also given Dre’s rumoured reputation as one who takes credit for other people’s work, it leaves me wondering exactly how much of this HE has heard before its release, because a lot of this sounds like “Dre” production. Which brother is influencing the other, huh?)
Anyways, lets talk about the tracks. The Intro cut rather than being a traditional 20 or 30 second chat by the artist, is actually a fully fledged (and damn good) song. This song also sets the stall out in terms of what to expect from the rest of the LP – a laidback funk groove with the sounds of a plucked guitar in the bacground, while Warren introduces new artist Damone who drops a very tight verse.
A nice opener then. But the next track ‘Lookin’ At You’ is the pick of the album. A Dre-sounding banger – uptempo with piano drops on every bar, this is hardhitting trunk music. There’s a nice female vocal on the chorus too, delivered by Toi. Warren has also improved his delivery too, spitting his verses with much more presence on the mic this time around.
As we move through the album it becomes clear than Warren obviously sees this as his “last big chance” to put his name back up in spotlights. The whole album has a superbly polished feel, as if everything has been worked on until its just perfect. This is vintage G-Funk – whiny synths, bouncy basslines, and catchy choruses and melodies. The twist is that this time around Warren has made this often overworked formula sound supremely fresh.
Its also nice to see that the usual suspects come through and represent. Nate Dogg pops up with Mista Grimm on the superb ‘Here Comes Another Hit’, and then blesses the 213 reunion on ‘Yo Sassy Ways’, as Warren trades verses with a certain D-O-Double-G. Elsewhere, Butch Cassidy’s soulful tones appear on ‘This Gangsta Shit Is Too Much’, and the perfect ‘Young Loc’s Slow Down’, the latter which also features WC. Meanwhile Mista Grimm pops up all over the album, Soopafly throws in an appearance on the cheerful ‘Somethin’ To Bounce To’, and West Coast staple ingredient George Clinton is added to the mix on ‘Street Dreamin’.
As mentioned earlier, Warren has improved his delivery this time around – he sounds much more confident on the mic. However this doesn’t alter the fact that the content on here rarely diverts from the normal G-Funk topics – beeyatches, blunts, cars, and “singing about fonk”. If you’re looking for lyrical gems then you ain’t gonna find any here – there’s no real standout lyrical displays – but then thats not what G-Funk is about is it? Its vibe music, music to sing along to, to make your head nod – nothing more. It more than achieves this purpose.
On the other hand, I have to give props to him for a couple of cuts on here, that are a break from the traditional norm. ‘Ghetto Village’ samples Stevie Wonder’s ‘Village Ghetto Land’ to stunning effect, creating a happy, bouncy cut that allows Warren to talk on his life in the hood. Again not an original topic, but the music here has to be heard to be believed. Superb. The other track that definitely deserves a mention is the last cut, ‘Keepin’ It Strong’ features El DeBarge. This is the 2001/2 ‘Dear Mama’, and sent a chill down my spine. On here Warren remembers his deceased mother with heartwarming results. I defy anyone to listen to this and not get goosebumps. This is beautiful.
Conclusion? Simple. Pick this up. It really is that good. The Regulator has made a welcome return.