The G-Funk Continuum: Warren G talks 'The G-Files,' 'The X-Files' and West Coast hip-hop
Without Warren G, G-Funk would’ve needed a different letter. The iconic Long Beach producer not only famously introduced Snoop and Nate Dogg to his half brother Dr. Dre, but also firmly embedded his footprint in the quintessential West Coast sound on “The Chronic,” “Doggystyle” and his own triple-platinum opus, “Regulate …G-Funk Era.”
Less immediately recollected but equally of note was Warren Griffin’s other '90s production work -- from his debut single, ”Indo Smoke,” to full-length albums from the Twinz and the Dove Shack and seminal cuts from MC Breed, 2Pac and the Death Row family. Content to cut a low, likable profile while many of his peers angled toward the limelight, few local figures engender goodwill quite like the G-Child, whose hometown even declared “Warren G Week” in 2005. No less than Def Jam founder Russell Simmons declared him the “turning point” in the label's history.
His recently released sixth solo album, “The G-Files,” found Griffin incorporating contemporary electronic textures into his trademark farrago of funky low-riding guitars, laid-back raps and simmering keyboards. In advance of a homecoming set tonight at Busby’s, the man who taught a generation to avoid dice games on 21 and Lewis spoke to Pop & Hiss about his new record, Nate Dogg’s recovery and the difference between “The G-Files” and the occult obsessions of Scully and Mulder.
So, what’s the difference between “The G-Files” and “The X-Files"?
Man, that’s a cold one right there. I’m going to be real with you, I haven’t watched "The X-Files,” but I really liked the name “The G-Files.” It just sounded right.
What do you think distinguishes this album from your previous material?
As you grow up, your music has to grow up with you. It’s still the same basic G-Funk sound, but it’s a more modern version. It’s got a taste of that modern electro sound that everyone likes but it’s still got that classic soul-vibe. I wanted to do something that matched up to the current sound of music these days.
One of the strongest songs on the new album is “100 Miles and Running” featuring Chef Raekwon and Nate Dogg. How did the collaboration with Raekwon come about and was the song recorded before Nate Dogg had his stroke?
Well, as you know, Nate had two strokes, so right now, he’s still in recovery. He’s progressing and hope to get him back on the streets soon. But before he had those strokes, we’d done six or seven songs in the studio. When I was coming home from the All-Star Game, I was stopped at a rest stop and saw Raekwon with a friend of mine. We said what’s up, mentioned that we wanted to work with each other and exchanged numbers. Two weeks later, I called him up and told him that I had a song for him. He went into the studio, laid it down, and it made for a great record.
The first song on the album is called “The West Is Back.” Did you think it was a matter of the West having fallen off?
It was just my way of saying that it was time that the original guys who really made the West Coast pop show how to get back in the groove. A lot of the music these days is not like how it was -- everybody thinks it’s OK to throw together some drums and one synth sound and it’s a hit record. It’s trying to take it back to that great soulful sound and giving props to the things that Dre, Snoop, Ice Cube, Ice T and everyone mentioned in the song did.
After giving an interview in Vanity Fair recently, you came under fire from gay rights advocates who called you homophobic for saying that you didn’t want to see gay people kissing on TV. What did you mean by that?
They’d asked me about gay people and I said that I didn’t have a problem with gay people. All I was saying was that I didn’t think it was right to have shows on television where they show two men kissing. I wasn’t saying that it was because I have a problem with it, but because I don’t think it’s right to show that sort of thing to the youth. I have no problem with gay people. I have gay family that I’m close with. I’m not a gay basher and I’d appreciate if people stopped blowing up my Twitter and e-mail with the accusations that I am.
Photo courtesy of WarrenGeezy.com
Warren G plays tonight at Busby's East, 5364 Wilshire Blvd. 8 p.m. $20