iHipHop Interview: Warren G- Funkdafied…

Written by Serge Fleury

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 at 4:51 pm
Views: 4494


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After Run-D.M.C. introduced their Adidas to it, prior to it living in the South, and before Nas proclaimed it’s death; Hip-Hop enjoyed a strong and lengthy run out West.

Spearheaded by one of the biggest juggernauts at the time in Death Row Records, the Golden State seemed like it could do no wrong.

Even though their stable of artists basically mirrored that of an all-star team, one major contributor to West Coast Hip-Hop during that era surprisingly wasn’t a part of their ranks.

Warren Griffin, better known as Warren G to his fans may not have worn an a Death Row chain, but with monster hits like ‘Regulate,‘ ‘This DJ,and ‘I Want It All‘; he didn’t need to.

After taking a short hiatus the G-Funk veteran returns back to the forefront with his sixth solo album, in The G Files[Click for review]

And in a corner office, atop a Manhattan skyscraper, drinking a 6-pack of Coors Light is where you’ll find him talking about everything from his fondest Tupac memory, to why he choose to go with an East Coast label; all you have to do is keep up.

iHipHop.com: Right now, you have The G Files making the rounds… So for the people who haven’t heard it yet, what can they expect from it?

Warren G: They can expect a great record… Something that you can ride to, dance to, and smoke to… It’s a record that’s not going to depress you…

Even though we’re going through these time right now, I’m still doing good soulful music that you can feel good to… That’s basically what The G Files is…

I have a lot of great people on there like Travis Barker, RBX, Raekwon [Click for interview], Snoop [Dogg], Ray J, and those were the people that I felt on those songs…

iHipHop.com: Where would you say this project ranks among your previous work?

Warren G: I really never rank my records, but a lot of the people that heard the record from top to bottom say that this is some of the best stuff that I ever did…

As for me, I just do the music, I don’t ever rate it… But if I had a choice to pick a record, I would probably pick my first record…

I made a lot of great records, but I also switched to different companies… When you switch to a different company, they have to learn you, and know what your market is…

So a lot of companies that I did go to, they didn’t understand the “Warren G” market… Those records still sold, but they didn’t sell like they should have…

iHipHop.com: I know that you produced the entire record yourself, so was that a conscious thing on your part, not reaching out to other producers?

Warren G: I’ve always produced every record you done heard me on, since day one… I started out producing with Tupac and [MC] Breed

I did the ‘Gotta Get Mine’ record, I did ‘Definition Of A Thug Ni*gga’ for Pac, ‘How Long Will They Mourn Me,’ Slick Rick’s ‘Behind Bars,’ ‘Shaq’s ‘Be A Father To Your Child,‘ I did ‘Regulate, ‘This DJ,’ ‘I Want It All.’ All of the records you hear, I produced them… But actually there’s this other cat who did produce on the record, and his name is THX… He’s a dope producer, and he did a song for me called ‘True Star,’ which is nice…

iHipHop.com: Your last project was 213 The Hard Way with Snoop [Dogg] and Nate Dogg back in 2004. Is there any reason why you took a four year layoff in between records?

Warren G: I dropped another record, and when we did 213 [The Hard Way] that was through a major company… But after that, I started doing independent stuff… I did a record called, In The Mid-Nite Hour, and you should check it out…

The G Files is also independent, and it’s through KOCH… It’s a one-off situation, and I’ll be a free agent in a few months… So Def Jam and Warner Bros., I need to come back over there, and chat with y’all a little bit… [Laughing]…

iHipHop.com: [Laughing]… Were you still making records in the 4-5 break?

Warren G: Yeah, I was making music, raising my kids, and doing reality shows… Actually what’s crazy is that I scored the music for that show Harlem Heights

iHipHop.com: Was that the show with Kanye’s ex-girlfriend?

Warren G: Yeah… I scored that show, and at first the people over at BET were tripping… They were like, “How are you going to have a West Coast producer produce a New York show?!” But I f*ck with everybody… I produce for EVERYBODY, and it’s not all about the West Coast… I produce for whoever, and I know how to adjust…

warren_g_press6-pageiHipHop.com: Everything you’ve been on has basically gone gold or platinum, so with a track record like that, did you put added pressure on yourself going into this record?

Warren G: Nah, I just did the record… If it goes platinum or gold; that’s cool… If it sells 150,000-200,000; that’s great!

Because I can sell a million records, and only get a $1.50, but I can sell 200,000 with an independent, and possibly make a million and some change… I want it to sell a million or two, but if it don’t; I ain’t really tripping, just as long as the true fans get it…

iHipHop.com: At the height of the West Coast’s fame, virtually every big artist was signed to Death Row, but you signed with Def Jam. Why was that?

Warren G: There was a long waiting line, and I didn’t feel like waiting… Plus it wasn’t right for me, you know? I just felt like I was left out, and [Dr.] Dre was like, “Warren, just take your time, and go on and be your own man, and do your thing.”

That was basically a blessing, so I bounced and went out to do my own thing… I started producing my own records, and all I had was a turntable, a MPC-60 and mixer…

iHipHop.com: Was anyone surprised when you took that [Def Jam] route?

Warren G: How could they be surprised? Sh*t, they probably wanted to do it too, but they couldn’t… [Laughing] They were a lot of other labels trying to get at me too, but I just looked at the history of Def Jam and I was like, “It’s a wrap, I’m outta here!”

They showed me some of the best times I ever had in my life… To get here to New York coming from gang bang central, I’m in the hotel, and the next day, LL Cool J calls me and says he’s coming to pick me up, and take me around; I LOST IT!

That n*gga showed me the old jeep at his grandmother’s house, and that mothaf*cka was dusty as hell! But he was like, “This was my first car.” It was parked and everything… But we were rolling in some super sh*t when he came to pick me up… [Laughing]

iHipHop.com: [Laughing]… Did it feel odd for you at any point during that time, with you being a big name West Coast act signed to an East Coast label, with all that [East Coast/West Coast] tension going on?

Warren G: Hell nah… No, no, no… I wasn’t tripping, because I came down here to do my job, and I wasn’t tripping off that East Coast/West Coast beef… I love being here in New York; I LOVE BEING OUT HERE! It’s cracking in LA, but out here is whole different vibe…

Everybody is hustling, and in LA, it’s a little more laid back… You got n*ggas that hustle too, but it’s different… There’s n*ggas down there right now wearing Air Force Ones, G’ed up pushing a mothaf*ckin hotdog cart…

When I was at MTV, there were some dudes selling their music outside, so I gave one of them $10.00, then I gave another one $10.00 and he was like, “Damn, that’s all you have?!” Then this n*gga pulled out a knot THIS DAMN BIG!!! Then I was like, “What the hell are you doing asking me for more money?!?!” “I need what you got!” [Laughing]… They don’t do that sh*t in LA, and I like that sh*t, cause that’s the hustle…

tupac-smoking1iHipHop.com: [Laughing]… Do you have any fond memories of working with with Tupac?

Warren G: I’m gonna tell you this: The day I did ‘Definition Of A Thug N*gga,’ I was mad as f*ck, broke, didn’t have no money, and I was in a raggedy-ass car… So I went up to the studio, and talked to Pac, as I was setting my sh*t up… Then him and I started smoking and drinking a little bit… Then he started asking me what was up with me?

Then I started braking down everything I was going through: Like the n*ggas who actually shot at me, how I didn’t have any money, me being hungry, and walking around with a .45 on my hip… I was f*cked up… I had on some broken glasses with some tape on them…

And he took everything I said, and turned it into ‘Definition Of A Thug N*gga.’ I couldn’t believe it, and he did it in like 30 minutes…

He wanted to hear the beat after we talked, so I played the beat, then that n*gga started bouncing, and then he started writing…

He had on one of those sleeper tie-up scully caps and he was bouncing while he wrote it… Then he went in there and busted the first verse, went back in and busted the second… So he busted all of his verses, then he put on the hook real fast, and he was like, Warren, does it need anything else?”

So I went in there, and put on them Snoop Dogg, Roxanne Shante and Richard Pryor voice samples… That was a classic moment for me… Him and [MC] Breed were actually the first mothaf*ckas to give me a shot at producing… So that’s another big-up to [MC] Breed and Pac, cause them n*ggas gave me a shot, when nobody else would…

warren_g_press2-highiHipHop.com: With you being Dr. Dre’s brother, did you ever feel like you really had something prove to critics?

Warren G: Nah, I just went into my own zone… Lyor [Cohen] didn’t even know that [Dr.] Dre was my brother when they signed me… They found out after so long… They f*cked with me cause I was talented, and I did some great songs… I did the Above The Rim record…

After I did ‘Regulate, I let someone close to Jimmy [Iovine] hear it, and then he took it to Jimmy, while I was doing my sh* t with Def Jam… So after Jimmy heard it, he wanted to put it on Above The Rim

So they put it on there, and it ended up being the lead record on the whole album, then Def Jam grabbed it, and re-released it to sell my album… It sold 10 million for my album and it sold two million for Above The Rim

iHipHop.com: I’ve talked to a few young West Coast acts, and a handful of them say its tough to recognized cause the same artists are constantly coming out. Like the “Snoop’s”, the “Ice Cube’s,” etc. Do you find that to be true?

Warren G: It’s not hard for them to get put on, they gotta be dope… That’s how Game got put on, the n*gga had a story about him… It’s not hard at all, you just gotta know what to do…

You can’t just “rap,” you have to have a story about yourself… You have to build yourself… I built myself, I just didn’t get “put on.”

We had a buzz just off doing CD’s, and someone would dub it, then give it to his homeboy, and he would dub it… There’s no one blocking you from being successful, it’s not us, you gotta have a story about yourself…


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