Reviews

Warren G – “Regulate: G-Funk Era II” – (EP Review)

The fifteen minute, five track EP Regulate: G-Funk Era II, the sequel to Long Beach, California native Warren G’s tepid 1994 debut album, is the sonic equivalent of an inconsequential clearing of the throat. Over the course of the seven full-length albums Warren G, whose birth name is Warren Griffith III, has delivered in the twenty-one years since his initial effort spawned the timeless Hip Hop track ,“Regulators”, his voice has continued to be distinctly unique; a powerful, genuinely street and alternately soulful and gritty combination that was sorely missing in the massively love ballad driven category of R&B.

Griffith had a credible spark to his voice which drove in fellow Rap aficionados, aided by the many works he did in the mid-90’s with Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre and many other genre legends, with the many genre artists he featured on his works, his gritty subject matter and similar-minded perspective, he still sounds as fresh as he did over two decades ago.

The problem with this singular EP in Griffith’s collection, besides being scant even for such a musical collection of the aforementioned nature, is that there is nothing memorable to be taken away. What keeps from destroying the quality of this project is that three of its five tracks work despite being merely pleasurable excursions in the familiar. Still, the listener takes away nothing but an empty and instantly forgettable experience which endures as fairly durable mainly for the funky, Dr. Dre-like orchestration Griffith chooses to course life into this odd assortment of tracks.

Regardless, this takes a back seat to the many guest rappers present in many cases with all of them being fairly similar in nature. Alas, this does little to mask the harsh reality that this is essentially a disjointed, artificial collection of party and relaxing weekend songs that concludes in on an ominous, and effectively vague, song of a relationship turned to scandal when rumors of cheating erupts.

Beginning with a fifty-two second, “Intro”, that desperately attempts to summon a laugh from listeners with a space filling skit concerning a pastor giving a sermon about music which leads to the aforementioned character yelling, “Regulate”, in an unsuccessfully clever way of immediately linking the EP to Griffith’s 1994 work.

This summons more of a rolling of the eyes than anything and only adds to the gargantuan misstep in play as the EP gives way to the second track, the repetitive and equally inane “My House”, where Warren G, over his own wildly inventive production which courses throughout the five tracks present herein, mutters the two words to hilariously overblown effect.

The wisely economical two minute and fifty-one second track, a remake of sorts of the well-known 1982 tune “Our House” by Madness, is only briefly rescued by long-time musical partner, Nate Dogg’s, equally soaring vocals. The result of this song is much like the EP as a whole: stilted, uneven and at turns fair and abysmal. It’s an odd experience which would best be skipped entirely.

Luckily tracks three through five fare much better. The three minute and thirty-nine second “Saturday”, an appropriately laid-back Nate Dogg re-teamed vehicle, is low on substance but captures the feel of the title day perfectly. The always likeable E-40 and Too Short deliver charismatic and infectious verses, Warren G and Note Dogg deliver genuinely smooth vocals over phenomenal production where the same sentiments apply. The refrain which simply states, “It’s Saturday / Time to get outside and play/ I want to play/ I want to stay and I want to play”, could’ve easily came off as elementary school schmaltz. Instead it becomes a testament to the two singers as they take something infantile and make it sound as smooth and melodic as the other songs wonderful counterparts.

This is further exhibited in the fourth track, “Keep on Hustlin’ “. Nate Dogg rousingly surfaces once more to help carry this EP above its initial wrong moves by giving us exactly what we would expect from a song hook with this moniker, but he does it with explosive and soulful gusto. Young Jeezy (though his props to Tupac Shakur feel a tad forced) and Bun B. give satisfactory turns on the microphone and with the hints of depth arriving as Warren G ponders what would happen “If I lost my grip on the game”, the tune becomes such as successful as the one before it as it ultimately exhibits just enough Hip Hop credibility, thought and sleekness to be as multi-layered, and a continuation of sorts, as “Saturday”.

The creative, and haunting, video game-like thump Warren G instills into the tune fabrication of the final track, “Dead Wrong”, makes its engaging and meticulously described narrative of a relationship turning to violence all the more tremendous. Nate Dogg gives another wonderful turn with the eerie threat that is his refrain and Warren G’s verses dictate his incredibly vivid storytelling skills with cinematic clarity. Gaining extra credit for the sly Notorious B.I.G. references sprinkled throughout, especially since the song itself shares the name of one of Biggie’s own tracks from his posthumous third album from December 7th of 1999, Born Again, the tune is witty, addictive and the extra ingredient needed to end this collectively sporadic effort on a winning conclusive foot.

Regulate: G Funk Era Part II is the sonic equivalent of a cold shoulder. Though most of the musical material within it works, it never quite recovers from its disastrous early moves. With no songs that break any new ground, see Griffith challenging himself in any new way (except for the innovative sound), the EP begs us to ask the question, “Why bother?” As it is, the EP as a whole is an assortment of ups and downs that never really find any type of cohesive balance. Such makes the aforementioned inquiry all the more relevant, even when it answers how far Warren G and his largely exceptional cast of features found within can carry this lumpy, semi-lethargic mess to nearly average status.

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