Two decades ago, Warren Griffin III and Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale stormed the pop charts with “Regulate,” a back-and-forth tale about an attempted car-jacking that goes down on a clear black night in L.A.’s Long Beach. Recorded in Warren G’s apartment, the smooth, Michael McDonald-sampling quiet storm peaked at Number Two on the Billboard singles chart and became one of the defining songs of the 1990s. With a reissue of Warren G’s triple-platinum Regulate… G Funk Era hitting stores, Rolling Stone talked to Warren G and his collaborators about the song that put West Coast hip-hop on a whole new level.
213 Was the Click
Warren G: 213 was me, Snoop, and Nate. That was my crew. We fell in love with [the group] 415 — Richie Rich, D-Loc and those guys in Oakland. So we was like, “Man, they 415, that’s they area code. So we might as well call ourselves 213 and represent from where we from down here.”
From letting people dub our tapes, it started getting around all over the city, from Long Beach, to Compton to Watts to South Central to Pomona. It started getting real big. But we still wasn’t getting a break from nobody. I hadn’t seen my stepbrother Dr. Dre in a while, so I gave him a call. I was, like, “What’s up?” He was, like, “I’m at a bachelor party. Come through.” I was like, “All right.” So I went, and they was playing a lot of good music, but it was the same stuff going over and over again. So I was, like, “Man, let me play this.” I popped in the tape. My brother’s buddy LA Dre (keyboardist/producer Andre “LA Dre” Bolton), he was right there. I popped it in and let him hear it. LA Dre, he was like, “Your brother hear this?” I was, like, “Nah.” So he hollered at Dre, and Dre heard it. And Dre fell in love with it. He was like, “Man, this is dope. I want y’all to come up to the studio on Monday.”
At that time, me and Snoop, we was cool, but there was a lot of people in between, dividing and conquering. Me and Snoop was at it a little bit. . . ’cause we got into a nice fight, not blows, but we got into an argument. So I called him and told him, “Man, look, Dre like our songs, he wants us to come up to the studio on Monday.” Snoop didn’t believe me, and he hung the phone up. So I called him back, and I told him, “Look, man, please, don’t hang the phone up.” So I called Dre on the three-way, he answered, and I was like, “Andre, can you tell Snoop that you want him to come to the studio on Monday.” So he’s, like, “Yeah.”
From that day on, we just started working with Dre. Dre did a song with Snoop called “Gangster’s Life.” That was set to En Vogue’s “Hold On.” Then the Deep Cover soundtrack came up, and we did a song for that. And after that, Dre was like, “What you think about me doing an album called The Chronic.” And we was like, “Shit, that’s dope.” So we started working on that.
Warren G: I was helping out with Dre on the Chronic – you know, me, Dre, Snoop, Daz, Kurupt, RBX, Rage, Nate Dogg. I was buying old, Sixties, Seventies and early-Eighties R&B and soul and listening to a lot of soundtracks from Blaxploitation movies, just getting ideas and seeing how their lifestyle compared to ours and seeing what kind of knowledge I could get that would help me go further as a producer and as a rap artist.
I helped out with “Let Me Ride.” That was a record [sampled from “Swing Down, Sweet Chariot” on Parliament’s Live: P-Funk Earth Tour] that I bought out of Torrance. “Stranded on Death Row” was Isaac Hayes. I heard that record, I sampled it and let Dre hear it. He liked that mug and him and Chris Glove [producer Chris “The Glove” Taylor], they re-did it. “Little Ghetto Boy,” that was a record I did with Mista Grimm, but I had the beat still. I played the beat, Dre heard it, he liked that motherfucker, we used it on The Chronic. It was a collaboration of all of us putting our heads together, and just having fun and doing hip-hop.
“When they told me that Michael McDonald liked it, that really sparked me.” — Warren G
Greg Geitzenauer (Engineer): I was a staff engineer at Track Record in North Hollywood. At the time, it was a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, Alice in Chains-type folks. When the studio started to get more hip-hop sessions booked, I was the one who ended up being the staff engineer on them.
When Dre and Snoop were getting ready to do the Chronic tour, they came in to do some show mixes – tracks that would be played [by their backing DJ] for the tour, for them to perform over. So Dre, Snoop and Suge booked time for a week or so. Warren was one of the guys who was always hanging out. When Dre, Snoop and Suge had those Chronic-type sessions, there were a lot of people around. I mean, like, 20 people would show up at a session, and it would become a party. Warren was one of the ones who would show up because he had done some of the tracks on the Chronic. And, you know, he was just trying to find a way to get in on something.