And then Dr. Dre, who hadn't released an album in sixteen fucking years at that point, decided to announce a new project completely out of left field. Its release date? August 7, of course.
As you can imagine, Warren G. must have been fucking ecstatic that day.
To be clear, Warren's project was always designed to be more of an appetizer than a main course. Regulate... G-Funk Era Part II is a five-track EP that includes four songs and an intro, just enough to get the man noticed but not long enough to wear out his welcome. However, unlike the original Regulate... G-Funk Era, which the man used as his own version of Dre's The Chronic by putting on a bunch of rookies who ultimately went nowhere in this here rap game (I feel bad for Da Twinz, but even though I liked them, I realize their shelf life was pretty short to begin with), Warren limits the guest list on the EP to already-established artists such as West Coast veterans E-40 and Too $hort, along with Southern kingpins Young Jeezy and Bun B. All four songs feature unreleased vocals from Nate Dogg, recorded for some unknown project that Warren just so happened to have somewhere in his studio.
Let's see if this independently-released EP leaves us wanting for more.
1. INTRO (FEAT. REVEREND TAADOW)
Snoop Dogg's "WBALLS" radio station is a good running joke. Warren G.'s Reverend Taadow is not. Yes, the character (played by actor/comedian Ricky Harris) appeared on the original Regulate... G Funk Era (and also on Snoop's "Doggy Dogg World": Harris also plays the deejay on WBALLS, a station that drifts around on different Dogg Pound-related projects), but hip hop heads aren't nostalgic for everything from the goddamn 1990s. Still, at least it was short?
2. MY HOUSE (FEAT. NATE DOGG)
All four actual songs on this EP purportedly feature unreleased vocals from the late Nate Dogg, but I didn't hear him anywhere on the Madness-aping "Our House" (which also owes a small debt to the Mary Jane Girls' "In My House"), unless the off-key crooning of the title was supposed to be him. Anyway, Warren G. uses his three verses to essentially list the items and features present in his residence (he even goes so far as to claim the "bacon" and "eggs" as his: I see this as a blown opportunity to verbalize his MLS listing), with a tiny bit of shit-talking hidden within. The beat wasn't bad, but it sounded incomplete, and Warren's performance was elementary at best. Is this what I've gotten myself into? Stay tuned.
3. SATURDAY (FEAT. E-40, TOO $HORT, & NATE DOGG)
Okay, now this is more like it. "Saturday" isn't a perfect song by any stretch of the imagination: it's obvious to me that the lyrics were all written to mesh with the Nate Dogg vocals Warren had hidden in the cloud. But the music is soothing and relaxing, and E-40, Too $hort, and our host all manage to stay on topic, celebrating their favorite day of the week, and honestly, I can't fault them for that. I love Saturdays, too. Maybe the WBALLS opening (again with Ricky Harris playing a role: note that the call letters WBALLS are not actually used, since I assume they're the intellectual property of Snoop Dogg or some shit) is the reason I like this so damn much, I don't know. 40 Water's opening verse made for a nice transition from Nate Dogg's hook, and Warren G. also earns some points with his lackadaisical flow, especially as "Saturday" does not offer any need for the man to pretend to be someone he isn't. $hort is the weak link on here lyrically, but the track was so pleasant, you won't mind so much.
4. KEEP ON HUSTLIN' (FEAT. YOUNG JEEZY, BUN B, & NATE DOGG)
The only two elements keeping this from possibly being a relic from the original Regulate... G-Funk Era are (a) the fact that Young Jeezy didn't actually exist when that album was recorded, and (b) back in the 1990s, there weren't many Cali-based artists who would look to the South for a collaborator. Boy, how times have changed. "Keep On Hustlin'" is smooth as hell: there's very little substance on here, but Warren G., Jeezy, and Bun B all sound pretty good over this cruising beat, while Nate's chorus, while not his best, was still engaging. Hell, this shit was actually entertaining. What a nice development.
5. DEAD WRONG (FEAT. NATE DOGG)
And then Warren G. loses me again. Our host details a failed set-up he finds himself caught up within thanks to a evil, promiscious woman. None of this shit rings true, especially since he admitted on "Regulate" that he basically was helpless until his boy Nate Dogg arrived on the scene to "lay them bustas down". On "Dead Wrong", Nate is limited to the hook (for obvious reasons) while Warren becomes the "G" he never was, blowing away both his would-be assailants and the chick that got the drop on him. No, seriously, that is a thing that happens on here. Thankfully, the music itself was annoying as fuck so I'll never have to live through this shit ever again, so.
THE LAST WORD: Two of the songs on Regulate... G-Funk Era Part II are genuinely decent, feel-good entertainment, which has always been the type of thing Warren G. has excelled at. However, there are only five tracks on the EP, and only four of those five are actual songs, so while that kind of batting average might work for baseball, when you only have a limited number of offerings to give the listener in the first place, shouldn't you include only the cream of the crop? If Warren G. honestly believed that "Dead Wrong" (my Lord is that song terrible) and "My House" (which is just bad, but occasionally laughably so) represented some of the best work of his career, then I'm officially afraid to ever tackle any more of his full-length solo efforts on the blog. I totally get that this EP was more of an experiment to see what he could do with the unreleased vocals of the late Nate Dogg, and what the late crooner actually recorded created parameters that Warren was forced to work within, but damn. Thankfully, the two tracks that actually sound good exist, and are both deserving of a wider audience, even if they're relatively slight in the grand scheme of things. Coincidentally, both of those songs feature guest stars, which help take some of the workload off of Warren's shoulders; my only wish is that, given their 213 connection, Warren G. and Nate Dogg could have been gifted with a verse from their former coworker Snoop Dogg at least once. What I've already written will take longer to read than it would to just listen to the fucking EP, so I'll just say this: had it not been for Andre Young, Regulate... G-Funk Era Part II might have just gotten a bit more publicity, and at least two of the songs on here are worthy of listening to on the car ride home.
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