Warren G is perfectly aware that when pop and hip-hop fans think of him,
they think of his ubiquitous 1994 single "Regulate" (RealAudio
In recording his third album, I Want It All, which was released
Tuesday, the 28-year-old rapper/producer set out to make sure they'd have
something else to remember — by updating his sound.
"We're not one-hit-and-quitters," the Los Angeles native (born Warren
Griffin III) said as he sat in a booth at a trendy restaurant in New York's
Union Square last month. "But we hit them and quit, and we hit them and
quit and continue to make hits."
"I'm still on that G-funk kind of sound," Warren G said. "But I stepped
it up as far as tempo. I did collaborations, which I didn't do on the
first two albums."
The changes in his G-funk, a term he and half-brother Dr. Dre use to
describe their laid-back funk and soul beats, are paying immediate dividends.
The new album's title track (RealAudio
excerpt) is the #1 hip-hop single in the U.S. and has been for
nearly a month, according to Billboard.
The song, featuring fellow West Coast rapper Mack 10, is relatively bouncy
fare for Warren G, built on keyboards and a surprisingly melodic
verse-chorus-verse structure. The song also is climbing the pop charts;
it's at #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week.
"It's been a [long time] since he's done anything," Terence Land,
a buyer for Tower Records in New York's Greenwich Village, said. "It's
almost like he's making a comeback."
Warren G said the title of I Want It All is emblematic of his
mindset at the moment. He is the father of two boys, 2-year-old Warren
IV and 6-month-old Olajiah. And, he said, he is a more mature person than
the partyer he was in the days when he sampled pop singer Michael McDonald's
"I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" on "Regulate," which reached
#2 on the pop chart and stayed on pop and hip-hop radio for months.
The album Regulate ... G Funk Era went triple platinum, but the
similar-sounding follow-up, Take a Look Over Your Shoulder (1997)
didn't sell nearly as well (though it did include the hit "I Shot the
Warren G said becoming a father has changed him. "I know I can't be on
the streets getting all wild and crazy and stuff because I have two kids
I have to raise and take care of," he said.
Olajiah sat on his lap and attempted to talk as much as his father.
While acknowledging his partying side, Warren G said he has always focused
on a musical career, a discipline he credited to his mother. She died
last year and is remembered on the song "My Momma."
"My mom and dad used to play all kinds of old-school funk," Warren G said.
"She also straightened me out as a person by putting that belt to my
backside when I got out of line. As I got older, I learned life was more
than just fast cars and things. ... I learned about raising kids and
responsibilities. ... She taught me to appreciate the things you do along
with [success]" (RealAudio
excerpt of interview).
Twenty rappers, including the currently hot Eve and Memphis Bleek;
established stars Slick Rick and Snoop Dogg; and newcomers such as Neb
Luv, appear on I Want It All.
A 1992 G-funk reunion of sorts takes place on "Gangsta Love"
excerpt), which features Nate Dogg, RBX and Kurupt, all of
whom contributed to hits by Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Warren G early this
decade. The song mixes streetwise lyrics with music that sounds as if it
was constructed by lighthearted 1980s R&B group DeBarge (whose El DeBarge
has a cameo on the song "G-Spot").
Warren G said Eve and Memphis Bleek "brought that love there that shows
that the East and West Coast can work together. And we breaking bread
together and we're successful" (RealAudio
excerpt of interview).
(SonicNet's Will Comerford contributed to this report.)