In the Mid-Nite Hour

Artist: Warren GTitle: In the Mid-Nite HourRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne

Hardcore fans of the West’s “Death Row” years might struggle to accept it, but the truth is that it’s not 1993 anymore. The vibes of the G-Funk era sound increasingly outdated, and no-one seems more aware than one of its figureheads, Warren G. Dr. Dre’s half brother’s latest solo venture, In the Mid-Nite Hour (Hawino), is a departure from the LBC native’s smooth trademark tracks, and it’s all the better for this.

Besides the beats, Warren has also updated his lyricism. Perhaps realizing that he was too old to constantly rap about haze and hoes, Warren’s rhymes now cover issues far more pressing than when he’ll next swerve in his six four (red to be exact). The funky, trumpet-assisted “Get U Down (Remix)” sees Mr. G instructing President Bush to “fix the price on gas” while guest Ice Cube delivers a stellar verse, calling for unity between “the blacks and the browns” of Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Warren’s 213 homie Snoop ponders how he can do so much for the kids and still attract the haters.

Sonically, Warren has also upped the ante. “Walk These Streets” features an on-form Raphael Saadiq, who delivers both a mind-infiltrating chorus and a thumping beat that sounds very Dre inspired. Warren should be commended for speaking on a lot of touchy subject matter here, including his troubled deal with label giant Universal, which he dismisses as walking away from bull... you get the idea. Yet this album has its downsides. Snoop adds little to the overly simplistic “Yessir”, while “Make It Do What It Do” sounds like an obvious attempt to emulate the success of Tha Doggfather’s hit “Drop It Like It’s Hot”. Well, they do say imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

Ultimately though, it’s great to see a West Coast veteran release an album that sounds this fresh. New fans should take note: Dre’s latest finding, Bishop Lamont, is all over this album. In a year’s time when he dominates the industry, dust off this impressive offering and tell your friends you’ve been up on him for ages. Long time followers, you may want to stick with “Regulate”.