Thursday, October 13, 2011

Music Review: Regulate

  • Artist: Warren G & Nate Dogg
  • Album: Regulate: G-Funk Era
  • Release: 1994
  • Label:
  • Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap
Ninety-nine percent of the time, celebrity deaths catch me by surprise.  Even Amy Winehouse's passing counts, even though everyone saw her as a drug-fueled time bomb bound to go off soon.  (Helps that she was out of the public eye for some time.)  But there was one other, far lower-key death which happened to catch my interest: Nate Dogg.  Born as Nathaniel Dwayne Hale, this rap-singer died on 15 March 2011 due to a series of strokes.  Guess someone didn't beware...


...the Ides of March.  *shot*  ...May I never do that again.  Back on topic, Nate Dogg was best known for his low-register singing voice and his collaborations with numerous famous rappers.  But the one I'm focusing on today would prove instead to be a one-hit wonder for his opposite number: "Regulate" by Warren G.

Now, I only heard out about this song because it samples its backbeat from "I Keep Forgettin'", a hit from Michael McDonald which is one of my favourite songs of the 80s.  As far as I'm concerened, that's as good a reason as any to attract me to some new music.  And if it's a choice between sampling an old hit and just using some original, barely-there loop you whipped up in half an hour on FL Studio, I'd gravitate towards the former.  (Unless J. R. Rotem is involved.)

NB: For clarity (and to avoid having to keep writing artist tags), Warren G's lines will be coloured red, and Nate Dogg's will be written in blue.

We regulate any stealing of his property
And we da~amn good too
But you can't be any geek off the street,
Gotta be handy with the steel if you know what I mean, earn your keep!
Regulators! Mount up!

With a description like that, "Regulators" would be a cool name for a superhero team.

It was a clear black night, a clear white moon

Thank you for avoiding the "dark and stormy night" setting.  ...Would you believe I'm not tired of that line yet.

Warren G. was on the streets, trying to consume
Some skirts for the eve, so I can get some funk

Recall the four themes of hip-hop from my last review.  Warren G is acting on the "girls" mode for the time being...

Just hit the East side of the LBC
On a mission trying to find Mr. Warren G.
Seen a car full of girls ain't no need to tweak
All you skirts know what's up with 213

...As is Nate Dogg.

NB: LBC is short for Long Beach, California, part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.  213 is an area code in the LA area... which Long Beach is not a part of anymore (split since 1997).

So I hooks a left on 2-1 and Lewis
Some brothas shootin dice so I said "Let's do this"
I jumped out the ride, and said "What's up?"
Some brothas pulled some gats so I said "I'm stuck."

Some idiot you are.  Why would he go and strike up a conversation out of nowhere?  What with gang relations being what they are in (your version of) Los Angeles, wouldn't you recognise their colours and stay away from them?  Oh, and while I can appreciate the self-censorship, I very much doubt that you really would have said "I'm stuck".  Something that rhymes, maybe...  I got nothing.

Since these girls peepin me I'ma glide and swerve
These hookers lookin so hard they straight hit the curb

It's easy to miss, but based on the music video, this scene describes Nate getting distracted by some girls and running his car off the road.  For the longest time I didn't even know what this passage meant.  But it's not all bad...

I see my homey and some suckers all in his mix

...He's just in time to rescue Warren!

They got guns to my head, I think I'm going down
I can't believe this happenin' in my own town
If I had wings I would fly, let me contemplate
I glanced in the cut and I see my homey Nate

Well, this scene is scripted just like a movie - and not a very original one at that.

Now they droppin and yellin', it's a tad bit late
Nate Dogg and Warren G. had to regulate

At this point we have our first chorus, which... has no lyrics.  Disappointing, but with the verses carrying so much of the narrative, how would the chorus compete?

I laid all them busters down, I let my gat explode
Now I'm switching my mind back into freak mode

Going back to our four themes of rap, it's nice of Nate to let us know when he's flipping the switch!

If you want skirts sit back and observe
I just left a gang of hos over there on the curb

But wait, do you mean the girls who distracted you and unintentionally made you run off the road?  Because you didn't say anything about them stopping as well.

Just like I thought, they were in the same spot
In need of some desperate help
The Nate Dogg and the G-child
Were in need of something else

I don't know, this passage seems a little...

One of them dames was sexy as hell, I said "Ooh, I like your size"
She said "My car's broke down and you sing real nice,
Would ya let me ride?"
I got a car full of girls and it's going real swell
The next stop is the Eastside Motel


Now, some edits of this song end the track at this point, cutting off the third and final verse.  So what could be beyond this point that made them take it out?  They're not about to describe what Warren, Nate, and the girls did at the motel, by any chance?

I'm tweaking into a whole new era
G-Funk, step to this, I dare ya
Funk on a whole new level

Of course not.  It's some tripped-out ramble on what this "G-Funk" thing is.  I blame the marijuana.
The rhythm is the bass and the bass is the treble

This is a mindbender.  Does this mean that there's no melody anymore?  The sad devolution of popular music people.  Or, with the ambiguous phrasing, you could look at it the opposite way, that the drumline's been taken out.  ...Whatever makes you happy, I guess...?

Chords, strings, we brings, melody
G-Funk, where rhythm is life and life is rhythm

This... is how... Shatner... does... rap.

If you know like I know
You don't wanna step to this

Wait, so now this isn't supposed to be a dance track?

If you smoke like I smoke

Then you too can make poor decisions like striking up social interaction with dangerous strangers!

Then you're high like everyday

Oh.  Besides, that was Warren fouling up anyway.  So, the moral of the story?

And if your ass is a buster
2-1-3 will regulate

Oh, right, they're promoting killing again.  As long as you're a "busta", vaguely-defined as it is.  But all in all, this is a rather good song, being a ballad in the traditional sense (as in a narrative).  The parallel storylines of Warren and Nate, especially in the beginning, resonated well with me.  Given that most "traditional" rap songs only serve to vacillate among the four themes I keep mentioning, having an actual story is one way to rise above the usual fare.

Lyrics: 4 stars out of 5
Music: 4 stars out of 5
Production: 4 stars out of 5
The Call: 4 stars out of 5 (B)

Next Episode: Well... I haven't done History of DDR for a while now? How about that for a change!

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