Hologram 2Pac may have grabbed the Coachella headlines, but behind the scenes G-funk architect Warren G and cocky Harlem rap upstart A$AP Rocky were laying the seeds for a collaboration. While he’s usually associated with his mega-hit from the ’90s “Regulate,” Warren G is returning to prominence at the moment: He’s the producer behind Young Jeezy’s “Leave Me Alone,” and the lead single to his own upcoming EP in June, “Party We Will Throw Now,” shows the enduring power of the G-funk groove. So with the G-funk resurrection blooming, Hive spoke to the genial Warren G about his plans with A$AP Rocky, his take on Hologram 2Pac, and the old school mixtapes Dr. Dre used to make for him.
Have you been surprised by the response to “Party We Will Throw Now?”
Yeah, I got the hottest record in California right now! I mean, I know that I make good music, but I’m surprised to see how well the young generation is really on it and really loving it, you know? It’s a good feeling, man, to know that the world got my back.
Your upcoming EP is being billed as a return to the G-funk era. Do you think that’s what hip-hop needs right now?
Most definitely! They lovin’ it! On Power 106 I got the two hottest records on there, “Leave Me Alone” which I produced for Young Jeezy and my first single off the EP. It’s getting requests like crazy. When I talk to my guys out there they’re like, “This is what we need right now in music, and that’s the G-funk.” But it ain’t went nowhere, ’cause I influenced so many other producers and a lot of artists that’s rapping today; like Drake’s record with Rick Ross and I forgot the girl that sings the hook… You know what song I’m talking about? [Sings the hook.] You know what record I’m talking about?
“Aston Martin Music?”
Yeah, that record. That whole beat is West Coast G-funk style. I think the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League done that. I really like them, I’m a fan.
Have you had any young rap artists telling you that you inspired them?
I talked to A$AP Rocky at Coachella. I ran into him a couple of times. He was a real humble cat and he was telling me how he loved my music and my sound. I told him to get at me so I can put together a classic for him and we can get to working. And Kendrick Lamar and me are supposed to get in the studio and put in some work. All the young cats — the rappers that’s new now — they all show me love and respect whether I run into a Drake or an A$AP Rocky. The first thing they say is, “Your record is the soundtrack to my life, I grew up on it.” I’m getting love, but I ain’t no antique! I still got to get it in!
What will you do if the record with A$AP Rocky comes off?
It will be different, that will make it something special. You combine a young style with an older style over a G-funk track? Shucks! Oh, wow, that’s gonna be big!
“All the young cats — the rappers that’s new now — they all show me love and respect whether I run into a Drake or an A$AP Rocky. The first thing they say is, “Your record is the soundtrack to my life, I grew up on it.” I’m getting love, but I ain’t no antique! I still got to get it in!”
Do you still hear the influence of your G-funk sound in rap music today?
It’s very influential because you got a lot of rappers that’s rapping but got that thing that’s kinda like an R&B element to them and that’s G-funk. That’s one of the styles I was doing. Like when I did [sing-raps] “It’s kinda easy when you listen to the G-dub sound/ Pioneer speakers bumpin’ as I smoke on a pound/ I got the sound for yo ass and it’s easy to see/ That this DJ be Warren G!” You get my meaning?
What influenced your melodic, sing-songy style?
There was a cat I used to listen to that had a song called “Adventures Of Super Rhyme (Rap).” It was Jimmy Spicer and that sounded like my favorite like guy to listen to when I was young. ’Cause he had [sing-raps] “You see this DJ, he gets down/ Mixing records while they go round/ With the hi-did, the hop, you just don’t stop/ You rock to the beat ’til it makes you drop.” That was him and then that was me!
Listen to “Adventures of Super Rhyme (Rap)” here:
Was “Super Rhyme” a big record on the West Coast when you were growing up?
It was an underground record, straight underground. Dr. Dre was the one who turned me on to it ’cause I used to listen to his mixtapes and that song was one of the songs that influenced me.
What else was on the mixtapes Dre used to make for you?
He had all kinds of shit on there, he had some Ice-T, L.A. Dream Team, DJ Aladdin, all of that, he used to play all of that.
Bringing things back to the new EP, it’s meant to feature Nate Dogg on every song, right?
Yes indeed. It’s a bunch of records that we did together and I just put ’em together. I got a bunch of people actually: Young Jeezy’s gonna be on there, me and Bun B got a record called “Hustling” that’s dope, me and E-40 and Too $hort got one called “Fast Day” — Too $hort got to finish his verse, hopefully I can get that by May 8th. It’s not a whole bunch of features, it’s just people I like so I put ’em on the project. It’s dope. I’m gonna release the track listing in a couple of weeks.
When do the Nate Dogg vocals date from?
That had to be like 2008, between 2006 and 2008. In the studio I remember he was cool, calm and just focussed, always focussed on whatever he was doing.
There were rumors of a Nate Dogg hologram at Coachella that didn’t happen, but the 2Pac one did. What did you think of Hologram 2Pac?
I think that was incredible! Just to be able to, you know, bring somebody back to life and show the world how much he’s appreciated and loved by us, the hip-hop artists, which is me, Snoop and Dre and all of the guys that was part of the show, it was incredible to let the fans see that. It really was huge, you know? ’Cause it’s showing the younger generation how much he meant to hip-hop.
Did you find Hologram 2Pac a little strange at all?
When I first seen it, the part that got me was when he dissolves and comes back as little crystals and there’s the lights — that’s dope! Like I say, man, Dr. Dre is a game changer. That’s one of the most talented cats I know; he’s hands down one of the best when it comes to ideas and creating. Dre’s the man for real!
When you were starting out, did Dre give you any good advice?
Yeah, the advice he gave me was be your own man! [Laughs.] Get out there and be yourself. That was it.
Revisit Warren G’s G-funk classic “Regulate” here: