CMA Awards 2018
Warren G on 'Regulate Part II,' Impact of 'Straight Outta Compton' & Unreleased Nate Dogg Music
Warren G looks pretty comfortable in his four-story Airbnb in SoHo that he has all to himself. On the second floor, he's set up his New York City home away from Long Beach quite nicely with the necessary amenities. A cluttered coffee table can be a sign of what went down last night, and on Warren G's, there isn't anything too out of the ordinary: empty ashtrays, joints and jars of weed. From conversations overheard from his team, there are talks of a house party here later tonight.
The 44-year-old rapper is considered one of the G-Funk pioneers alongside the late Nate Dogg, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. Last year, "Regulate" turned 20, which shows how longstanding his career has been and the accomplishments he's made so far. Following up his last project, 2009's The G Files, Warren G is giving fans a sequel of his 1994 debut Regulate … G Funk Era. He's kept his promise to fans by sharing unreleased Nate Dogg records on the EP and plans to release more tracks with the late artist in the future.
Fresh off the release of his new video for "My House," Warren G speaks to Billboard about the EP, producing for other artists, the upcoming N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, and why he plans to re-record his first album again.
From 1994 to 2015, did you ever think you'd be still making music nearly 20 years later?
I knew I did good music, but I didn't know it was gonna be still in heavy rotation to this day. I just wanted people to hear what I was doing. I was trying to be different. It was something different that people weren't used to so I guess that's what led to [people] loving it so much.
It feels good to still be in rotation 20 years later. A lot of dudes is in one week and gone the next. That's just like with the Meek Mill and Drake situation. A lot of fans switched away from him [Meek] fast. But I'm not saying he's done. Once he do a banger outside of the bullshit that's going on, they'll be right back. That's just an example of what can happen. One second you are on top, the next second... boom! You're gone.
Nate Dogg is featured on four out of the five tracks. How important was it for you to keep his legacy alive for this generation of hip-hop fans?
I didn't want to get on the record and say "R.I.P. this" and "R.I.P. that." I wanted to feel like he's right here with us. That's the feeling of it. I didn't want no sad stuff. You know, I've done that. I just wanted to keep his legacy up and his spirits up and give everybody the G-Funk that they've been wanting and missing. I put it together on this EP. It's not a whole lot, and I still have a bunch more [tracks], but so many people were like, "Warren, can you put some G-Funk out?" OK, I'mma give you guys a taste of it and drop the EP. Just let everybody know we still do it.
The combination -- me and Nate -- [makes it] hard for me sometimes in the studio because I'm doing music that he'd murder. Can't nobody do it like us. So I've been feeling kind of f---ed up because he's my homeboy. I'm like, "F--- it." I'mma keep going hard for him and keep doing this music. It does feel different not having him there. But when I'm driving and riding in the car or whatever, it's cool. I love to hear his music 'cause it gets me from one place to the next.
Are you ever going to put out an EP featuring just you and Nate Dogg?
I still got a lot of music with me and him. I don't know, man. I'mma see how this turns out... See how Regulate... G Funk Era Pt. II, the EP, turns out -- that'll let me know if I should keep going as far as putting out more unreleased music. If I'm not putting out music, I'mma be producing for everybody. I got an artist named Mike Slice. He's nice and he's real good. I'm doing a bunch of production for all the artists in the industry because I'm as much as a producer as I am an artist.
Do you get more credit as a rapper than a producer?
Yeah, but my producing shit has been bigger. Just as big as my rap shit. I don't trip. I've been doing both of them from day one. All they gotta do is check the credentials. They'll see what it is that I've done. I love doing both, but I like the production side more because I get a chance to do music [for people]. Like if somebody tells me their idea, like what they talking about, I can cater to it. I know what sound to drive what they writing about. I love that.
Do you find yourself crate-digging and checking out record stores?
All the time. That will never stop. If I wasn't doing [this interview] right now, I'd be somewhere digging 'cause you can always find new sounds and new ideas. That stuff gives me ideas like the people before me was doing. I know there's hundreds of thousands of records, maybe millions that I still haven't heard that's got shit that could probably change the game.
What have you found recently?
Off top, I can't remember. I was just going through the records. I remember I came across a rare Bee Gees album. That was pretty dope. It had some nice shit on there -- old, old. I didn't even know they went that far, but it had some nice shit on it. I listened to it. I think a Japanese record. I found some dope sounds that was in there. "OK, I'mma sample this shit. It's dope."
Your EP came out on the same day as Dr. Dre's Compton. Are you personally excited for his project?
I'm a fan just like everybody else. I couldn't wait, even though I heard probably the whole thing. He played it for me. It's dope. It's dope hearing the finished product of what he did and how he pieced it together.
I look up to him, so I'm very happy about that. I'm happy to see how far [N.W.A] came as artists. The things they went through trying to be artists -- they went from independent artists all the way to the major leagues. There was a lot of trials and tribulations there. It's just good to see [them] being honored by a lot of people and them being able to do a movie about their life story, it's great.
What do you think about him releasing the album on Apple Music and iTunes?
I think that's big. It's different. It's something new. That's a way that a lot of the piracy can stop. But unfortunately, it didn't happen with me. Mines got leaked because of SoundCloud links being sent out, so it happened to get leaked. Mines was a straight for release on iTunes too.
We [are] artists and just constantly giving free music. How are you supposed to survive? I know shows are a good way to survive. You make this music, and it's supposed to be special for people to get excited and go out and buy it. You giving them some great shit that you can treasure. It's cool. I ain't really tripping. [The] music game is different now than it was before I came up.
Straight Outta Compton is coming August 14. There's a scene where you're introducing Snoop to Dre during a Death Row Recods recording session. Looking back at that moment, did you ever think you'd be making history?
No. Like I said, we just wanted to work. We was hungry. Me, Snoop and Nate. We was hungry and wanted to do music. And Dre gave us that opportunity and opened the door for us. We just been doing it ever since. [Like] what he did for us, we changed the game for him at the same time when we did The Chronic. That opened up a whole other lane to now, where he's got Eminem, 50 Cent and all the other artists under him and [allowed] him to get as far as he's gotten with everything that's going on. That's a good thing.
Straight Outta Compton seems very on point as far as their portrayal of N.W.A, the city of Compton, and everything from police brutality to the raise and fall of the group. How important is it that all of that is accurately depicted?
Police brutality was real. I [lived through] that era. I was around them. I've seen it all. I've been through situations, but they just letting you see through their eyes and what they went through in Compton, Calif. That wasn't just there, that was happening everywhere: that was Compton, Long Beach, Watts [and] South Central. It's like ghetto reporters giving you guys the trials and tribulations that they went through and [still] became successful. The mainstream America [were] not adapting to what they were doing 'cause they were different. They were talking about the shit that they (mainstream America) wasn't talking about. They weren't biting their tongue; that's what made it blow up so big 'cause you didn't have people doing that. Motherf---ers were scared. They weren't scared. They said what they felt and they meant it. So this [movie] is a history lesson.
"Regulate" turned 20 last year. Are you still thinking about doing an updated version of it?
Yeah, I'mma re-record it. I'm gonna do a re-recording of the whole album, so then I own my masters. Right now, Def Jam owns my masters. They don't want to give them back and I need to get them back because they been living off me for over 20 years. I just want to be able to get my music back in my possession and I owe it. I could live off my own music. If they don't give them back to me, I'll re-record the whole album and then that's considered... I would own the masters of those master recordings. That would all be for me.
Would you consider adding new artists to it?
I mean, I may add a few new kinks to it.
What about Kendrick Lamar?
I want to work with him. I mean, we talked. I've seen him. We were rehearsing right before the BET Experience and he was like, 'I need one of them bangers.' I was like, "All right. Just get at me." I gave him my number. He said he was gonna get at me, so whenever he gets at me, I'm here.