Nuthin’ changed for this Long Beach native, former Death Row affiliate and member of the extended Dogg Pound clique. The cover for his new album looks like it was taken from the pre-materialistic, pro-reality era of Hip-Hop: it’s basically the same cover as his classic 94 debut “Regulate… The G-Funk Era”- Warren is pictured standing in the corner of notorious LBC streets 21st and Lewis. The inside shows the trademark rows of Palm trees across 21st street. Warren is wearing a 64 Impala neck piece and a Karl Kani like T-Shirt. No fancy suits or English cars like some other LBC native who dropped an album lately. He still sports the same crew, Da Five Footaz, Twinz, Malik, and Hershey Loc. The only absents are The Dove Shack.
The album also contains 18 tracks, with 4 intros, which leaves us with a respectable 14 track album, which is a greater value than the mere 37 minutes Warren’s debut gave us. Warren managed to disable the “sophomore slump”, because this album is actually his third project- after his great production on the Twinz album. Although Warren shows his basic attitude did not change a bit, most of the tracks on this album do not feature the laid back “cruise control beats.” Most of the tracks stay away from high pitched mellowed out keyboards, and rely on some ATCQ style (!) vibraphones and rhythm guitars. The moog bass sound is still thumpin’ though throughout most of the album. Word wise, it seems Warren put more thought to his lyrics- no more ridiculous freestyle attempts (like the ever so stupid “What’s next, what’s next, what’s n-x-e-t, it’s me, Warren to the muthafuckin’ G”), but well constructed verses.
G-Funk headz will no doubt be stimulated by traditional G-Funk tracks like “Relax Your Mind” which features some bomb G-Funk singing by Warren’s newest act, “Reel Tight”, and “Transformers” which features a vocoded version of the theme song to the old action cartoon that goes by the same name. Warren tries to spark again that “Regulate” vibe with his boy Nate Dogg in “Anne Mae”, your regular “I don’t love’em hoes” track over soft keyboards. One thing for sure, Nate sounds his best on a G-Child track. Older folks may appreciate “Smokin’ Me Out” which features Ronald Isley, a track to resurrect 70’s pop-funk appeal. The “I Shot The Sheriff” cover is also dope but gets boring after a while since it’s not to deep, lyrically and conceptwise.
And that’s where this album fails to deliver. Tracks like “To All Djs”, “Can You Feel It” and “Back Up” are horrible, because they utilize cliches, a thing Warren did stay away from until now. “To All Djs” has bad mixing, which reminds one of the awful “Doggfather”, and what’s worse, the chorus is “Hey DJ let’s play that song, keep me dancin’, all night long”. Sounds familiar? You bet it is. “Can You Feel It” is EXACTLY the same track Dru Down did a few months ago, with the same interpolation and all… “Back Up” also stumbles and falls because Warren tries to introduce two uninspired emcees who spit cliches over a “took me 15 minutes to produce” beat. We all got tired already of the uncreative “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, so that leaves us with 11 tracks. What saves this album from mediocrity is the fact that all of these 11 tracks are great. I gotta mention “We Bring Heat” which feature the Twinz and Da Five Footaz and a bass heavy, jazzy, vibraphoned track. “What We Go Thru” is where Warren experiments, this time with pianos and dark bass, instead of his regular sunny day beats. The tracks hosts Perfec, Hershey Loc and the LBC Crew’s Bad Ass. “Young Fun” introducing Kne-Hi and third class rapper Jayo Felony is also worthwhile. Warren G is on a mission to show people that you can keep your original style and still sell records, with out bowing down to mafiaso trends. When you overlook the album’s occasional slumps, you get a fine overall product.
If gangsta rap was in a coffin where Doggfather, Makaveli, Westside Connection and The Aftermath were the nails nailing it shut, Warren’s album is is a crowbar to pry open the coffin. The question is whether Warren’s crew of talented artists is strong enough to lift gangsta rap out of the coffin and keep it standin’ up in the LBC for good.