Music always came naturally to Warren G. When your best friend
is named Snoop Dogg and your stepbrother is Dr. Dre, its not hard to understand why.
But instead of riding the coattails of his more famous colleagues,
the self-proclaimed G-Child went on to craft a highly successful solo career
featuring a triple platinum debut [Regulate G-Funk
Era], two gold albums [Take A Look
Over Your Shoulder, I Want It All],
and a well-received independent release [In
The Mid-Nite Hour].
Now on the cusp of his sixth solo album The G Files (January 27) and celebrating 15 years in Hip-Hop,
Warren G explains how hes retained his passion for creating art in spite of
the cruel mistress that is the music industry.
The new album The G Files features Ray
J on the first single. How did that collaboration come about?
Warren G: Ive
been knowing Ray J since he was a young buck to now being a grown man. I used
to see him all the time at Snoops, and we always said we wanted to do a song
together. And then it just happened.
I was in the studio and let one of my cats hear The Crush
instrumental. He said, You know who would sound good on there Ray J. I was like, Wow, ok, but I didnt do
nothing with it for awhile. Another day I let someone
else hear it. And he said, You know who should be on that Ray J. So now Im
like damn, two people have said the same thing.
I didnt know if it would fit him, but theyre hearing
something Im not hearing. I called up Ray J, told him I had the hook ready,
and all you had to do was sing it. He heard it and then laid it down. Bam! Its
been popping and bubbling ever since.
Your last few albums have been independent, so youve now experienced both
sides of the record label business. Whats the biggest adjustment or
difference in going from a major to an independent?
Warren G: I
havent had to make any adjustments as far as me. I pretty much do the same
thing as far as production. But as far as the business side, [Im] having to do
[sample] clearances, a lot of radio promotion, and all the things normally a
major would do for you. Im having to do all that
myself. That right there is definitely difficult, but its teaching me more of
the deeper side of the business.
But Im enjoying it and seeing how things really go. So from
here on out I should be able to do everything on my own because now I know all
the same people the major labels know. The only difference is the label has
unlimited funds! [laughs] When youre indie you gotta work with what you got.
When I did Regulate I listened to Michael
McDonalds I Keep Forgettin. So I can take this,
put some Hip-Hop drums up under it with a cool bassline,
and I can rock this. Its about making an idea bigger than what you just
listened to. But one thing Dre always told me [was].
If you can make the [cover] better than the original, keep pushing.
Warren G f/ Nate Dogg Regulate
Every producer has their own routine in regards to how they select samples and
construct songs. How does Warren G go about producing a track?
Warren G: I
listen to [old] records, thats a part of it. Thats
where you get a lot of ideas from. I dont know no
musician, producer or artist who doesnt get ideas from listening to the people
that was putting it down before. You do the same idea, but you upgrade it.
When I did Regulate I listened to Michael McDonalds I
Keep Forgettin. So I can take this, put some
Hip-Hop drums up under it with a cool bassline, and I
can rock this. Its about making an idea bigger than what you just listened to.
But one thing Dre always told me [was] If you can
make the [cover] better than the original, keep pushing. Thats what I follow.
AllHipHop.com: Theres a lot of different music sources you pull from when
youre sampling. It could be jazz, rock, or R&B. Is there a particular
genre you prefer sampling for Hip-Hop?
Warren G: Let me
see I dont think Ive used the same artist more than once. But you know what
Ive heard a lot of ideas from certain incredible artists. But Id only take
the best idea and roll with it.
There was a record from remember Sugarfoot?
[Was he] from the Commodores?
The Ohio Players.
Warren G: Yeah,
the Ohio Players! He had a solo record that no one really knows about, Sugar Kiss, that was incredible! You gotta be a deep digger to know that. I discovered a lot of
great ideas from that cat. I was like wow! He must have been the guy that was
really behind a lot of production with the Ohio Players.
like how I am. I was the guy that brought all the ideas and came up with all
the hit records. The diamond in the rough that no one knows
about. People know me as an artist, but Im a producer, DJ, and I dig
deep and collect records.
Warren G f/ Mack 10
I Want It All Video
lot of fans who look at your resume point to the third
LP I Want It All as a project that
retained a good balance between your production and guest artists. They never
overshadowed you and fit perfectly into the mix. With the new album, do you
have a significant amount of guests or is it mostly yourself?
Warren G: I dont
like to put a lot of guest appearances of known artists, but I like to take the
unknown talent and let them be a part of my album. [That way] I can help them
jumpstart their career.
Im a producer. Im not one of those cats who’s gonna get on and say Im an incredible emcee and should be
in the Top 5 and all that. Im a producer first who knows how to rap.
A reason why Im exploring new talent is that I can be a
door opener for a lot of talent out here (West Coast). Theres a gang of talent
out here but they have no avenues. Either you go through Interscope
or sh*t I dont even know who else! [laughs] A lot of the doors arent being opened.
I cant just go knock on Jimmy Iovines
door and say, Jimmy, listen to this. I can set up a meeting, but who knows? My
avenue was Dr. Dre as the door opener. But hes
working on Detox
and his company, so he doesnt have time to really help out like he wants to.
But he can set up that meeting. [laughs]
Its somewhat died down now, but over the last year a lot of East Coast artists
were complaining about not getting the same mainstream chances as Southern
artists. The ironic thing is that a lot of West Coast artists have been like
join the club, since many of them felt theyve had that same issue for 7-8
years. Why do you think its so hard for certain artists to keep up?
Warren G: Whats
going on is that there are a lot of cats in company positions that really dont
know music. A lot of these people went to college, got degrees, and they get a
job as an A&R and dont know real talent. Theyre only working with the
people that they know.
I helped make the West Coast pop with the talent Ive
discovered and artists Ive worked with. And Im still gonna
make it pop. [laughs] Its a crazy industry right now;
those 360 deals take your publishing, merchandise, film, and TV rights. Now you
cant negotiate other revenue options. Thats why Im not on a major. Im not
giving those things up, except maybe film and TV. [laughs].
At the end of the day I make hit records, and those cant be stopped. There are
some solid people on the labels. Most of the people getting clout that you hear
about, Ive worked with.
They [TVT Records] still owe me money! We got an
attorney on the case trying to work everything out. We put our hearts into the
record [213’s The Hard Way] and a never got a royalty check: me, Snoop, or Nate (Dogg).
When you analyze the music that is popular today, what do you like and dislike
about it from a production standpoint?
Warren G: I like
that a lot of the music you can really party to, straight club music. One
dislike is that you hear a record and its not as full as it should be. You
hear one note and some drums! Now that part Im kinda like, damn. And those records sell a million.
Now if I do something like that, [the fans] are gonna be like, Oh that Warren G was wack.
[laughs] So I dont try to copy whats going on and
try to stay instrumental, using up to five instruments. On this album I have a
lot of synthy songs combined with the live
213 “Groupie Love” Video
The 213 group album [The Hard Way] was
critically and financially successful, but the label TVT went bankrupt. Do you
guys still plan to release a follow up or is that not possible with the
Warren G: They
still owe me money! We got an attorney on the case trying to work everything
out. We put our hearts into the record and a never got a royalty check: me,
Snoop, or Nate (Dogg). We never got nothing from that record, even on the backend. We dont even
know the international sales. Thats how crazy the situation is. Hopefully
well get our past due.
You would think it would be in the labels best interest to work something out
as the album is well past gold with over 600,000 copies
Warren G: And you
know as well as I do that the album shouldve sold 5 to 10 million off top.
Thats Warren G, Snoop, and Nate Dogg. Combined weve
sold at least 100 million records [over our careers].
Conventional wisdom would say that album shouldve dropped in the mid 90s when
everyone was at the peak of their commercial success.
Was it a matter of you guys doing too well solo-wise to make time or was it
Warren G: Everybody
was on different labels and they werent trying to share instead of letting it
come out and build their artists up. The labels just wanted to shut the whole
thing down. But we worked through all of that and finally got to do it. I
really enjoyed it.
Youve worked with everyone from Bishop Lamont to George Clinton. Do you recall
a time when you worked with an artist and their talent just completely shocked
you in the studio.
Warren G: Who
shocked me the most was Roger Troutman. He was incredible. This dude came in
the studio with the talkbox. You look at it and say,
What the hell is that?! You look at it like, I
dont know what this n***a got. He had a little keyboard about 15-20 inches
long and a green ball with wires on it and taped up. I didnt understand it
man, I was tripping.
Then he got to playing the guitar, hitting notes, and then
started singing. Hed sing it first then do it with the talkbox.
I didnt know he could sing like that. He was doing it all. I told him he was
so incredible I had to take him out to eat.
So I took him out to dinner at this place called Georgias,
and called my homegirl and told her, Look, get about
15 girls. We were sitting at the table like bosses with all the girls. And I
told him, Roger, any one you want, shes yours! [laughs].
He was great, and I was very hurt when I heard what happened to him. Roger was
also worked with Mac Dre back in 1999 before he
Warren G: Right. Actually
when he got out of prison I went up to Vallejo to see him at a party in the
park. I didnt know what was up, so I come in and everyone is like, Damn,
thats Warren G! But I was going to meet up through a mutual friend. [Then] he
came on the stage.
Remember he was fresh out [of jail]. There were stripping
girls up there. As soon as one breast got showed, the whole place erupted. They
started fighting and Im like, What the hell have I got myself into?! [laughs] I put my back against
the wall and let everything flow past me since it wasnt no
beef with me. Afterward we linked
up at his buddys house. I gave him the track and he put it down. Dre was a real cool cat.
What other artists are going to appear on The
Warren G: Travis
Barker produced a track on there. Were trying to get the lead singer from
Sugar Ray to get down on that one. Paul Wall and Lil Keke
are also doing verses on one of my records. Were working on that right now.
Snoop is gonna be involved, too. I talked to the
drummer of Green Day, and were supposed to link up. Im still working while
Im finishing [laughs]. Im going to keep working and bringing new things to
the table. The main thing is having the new talent on the record get heard. The
tour is all being put together right now. Its not set in stone but its all
being put together. And I have an international thing as well. Im letting
people know Warren G hasnt gone nowhere.
Will the tour use a live band? I know thats a staple of a lot of your music.
Warren G: Now
cmon man you know Im the first dude to rock a live band! [laughs]
I was the first Hip-Hop artist to bring a live band overseas in 96-97. Now
everybody does it. It gives the show a different feel and you can stop without
having to push a button. You can look at your band and theyll do a breakdown
for you. Or you can go over if you want to. The band is in tune and they know
what to do. Its a great feeling. When I was in Asia it was great. Snoop still
goes over there and tells me people always ask, Wheres Warren G? Im
definitely going back to that circuit. I still look good, havent aged a bit!
Any closing thoughts to the Hip-Hop world?
Warren G: I just wanna say to the Jay-Zs and Lil Waynes of the game to come holla
at your boy. Warren G is the diamond in the rough [on production]. Come stay
with me for a week in the studio and I guarantee Ill make yall some hit
records, not that quick-fast stuff. Youll see what Warren G does. I got a lot
of records and Im like, Damn, Jay-Z would kill that.
One of these days when I ready to hang up my Adidas I think
Ill join one of these companies and show them how to really do it. Another
thing [in regards to working with other artists], I like Max B! Hes tight to
me. He reminds me of myself. He gets out there and handles his business while
being against all odds. The boy can go, hes creative, and he knows how to make
hooks. He can write songs that can captivate you. But I like Cam and Juelz too, all of them.
Sounds like Max needs to be hollering at Warren G for some production.
Warren G: Oh Id
have him off the chain. I know what goes on in this whole industry. Im the eye
in the sky. Russell [Simmons] and Lyor [Cohen] holla at your boy Kevin Liles too! [laughs]