In hip-hop circles, it’s very hard to find even a casual listener who couldn’t give you a play-by-play rundown of the events of a certain clear, black night on the east side of Long Beach, California that are forever in the halls of history. Rapper/producer Warren G is roaming the city streets in pursuit of companionship and finds himself in dire straits, held at gunpoint by some roughnecks who want to relieve him of his ill-gotten gains from a dice game, when singer and world-class wingman Nate Dogg comes to the rescue. By now, you can probably hear the groovy strains of Michael McDonald’s 1982 single “I Keep Forgettin’” sample in the back of your mind. Such is the power of the genre that was born from Warren G’s musical experimentation, G-Funk, introduced to the world by his 1994 hit, “Regulate.”
Now, that genre is receiving its due in the form of a Youtube Originals Documentary which chronicles the early sound of the G-Funk from its inception to its impact on hip-hop music and culture through the story of 213, the group consisting of Nate Dogg, Warren G, and Snoop Dogg. Stuffed to the gills with never-before-seen footage and exclusive interviews with many of the primary figures in the genre’s rise to prominence (and main beneficiaries of its influence) — including the D.O.C., Ice Cube, Kurupt, radio’s Big Boy, and Wiz Khalifa — G Funk sheds light on 213’s central position in the genre’s rise, and their own role in creating a brand new sound that took over LA radio for more than a decade.
While the film details the music of the era in the words of the genre’s preeminent players, the creation of the film itself makes for a fascinating story as well. In a phone interview with Warren G, the musical pioneer broke down the trials of getting the film produced, the special relationship that generated footage that would become the documentary’s foundations, and what it means to be the defining figure of an important subgenre in hip-hop, one the overall culture would likely look vastly different without. Fittingly, the first word out of his mouth, by way of both introduction and salutation, is “Regulator.” To this day it’s the song that defines his career, but it’s his career, his work, and “Regulate” which have come to define the sound of Los Angeles hip-hop for a generation.
How did you become involved with the G Funk documentary?
This is my story. I’ve had this story locked in for a long time, but a lot of different companies wanted to change the things that I wanted to talk about. I couldn’t. So I kinda backed out of the idea totally.
One day I was at this show down at the Observatory in Orange Country. I ran into this young kid named Karam Gill. Just a regular kid, just trying to get put on. He asked me if he could film the show. Well, I told him, “Go ahead. It’s fine.” He said, he would email me the footage and I was like, “Cool. That’s good.” After that, I told him to follow me, so he followed me for a while. It was just dope what he was shooting. So I asked him if he could do a documentary.
I broke it down for him start to finish, step-by-step, frame for frame. Everything that I went through, and I was going through. So we took it and we put it on paper and then we put it on the storyboard. We had that all there. I met Gary last year, Bob and Matt, the producers, the investors. We showed ’em our business, and they loved it, and that got us to where we are right now. Which is a big story about Warren G, and G-funk.