West Coastin with Warren G [Interview]
Vancouver, B.C. – As a founding elder of the West Coast hip-hop scene, Warren G fits in seamlessly with the Vancouver vibe. He’s passionate about things both musical and political, and speaks freely about both – he also runs on his own time and it not given to being rushed. HipHopCanada sat down to chat with Warren G, and it was interesting to find out how he sees the world. He told us how he feels at the loss of his best friend, about the stories that allow people to relate to his music, and of course how to enhance your – ahem – bulge.
“That’s my job, that’s my bitch. And she’s gotta bring daddy home his money every night.”
HipHopCanada: Hey Warren G, how’s your day been?
Warren G: I had a good time hanging out in Victoria this morning then came back here to Vancouver.
HipHopCanada: I heard you prefer to take the train rather than fly…
Warren G: I took the train. It’s like this. I fly, I ride the train. I actually just got back from Europe maybe 2, 3 weeks ago, and that was flying – 11 hours. When I was overseas with Snoop we flew every day, we flew fourteen times out of eighteen shows.
HipHopCanada: What was the best part of the European tour?
Warren G: UK was very good, everywhere was fine. We went to Cannes, France, and I saw my brother there, Dr. Dre, and it was like a family reunion with me, him, Snoop and the Dogg Pound, only person was missing was Nate Dogg.
HipHopCanada: You just released a tribute song for Nate Dogg, right?
Warren G: I did a song, it’s called “This is Dedicated to You.” It’s a record that I did just seeing what he was going through and how I felt. Cause that’s one of my best friends so I just felt kind of bad seeing him going through what he was going through. And along with him passing away it was really really hard on me cause I’m the guy who got him started. It’s still hard on me. In the song I talk about how it’s hard for me to record because I can’t find another artist that has that, what he had. He had something that I don’t think I’ll ever get again, as far as an artist and a friend.
HipHopCanada: You must have a lot of good memories from that friendship and partnership. Can you share one?
Warren G: One of my favorite memories is when we was getting ready to have a fight with each other. But it wasn’t gonna be a real fight, because he could say whatever he wanted to say, and he’s the only person I wouldn’t punch. Cause that was my homeboy. He was like, “Warren, you a bitch!” So I turned around and said, “Nate, you a bitch.” We used to go at it just calling each other names and shit but we never would come to blows. We were brothers. I used to laugh at it cause it was funny as shit to me and he was serious as fuck. I was laughing at it. And a great memory is us being in the studio working, and just the vibe. Everything was just incredible.
HipHopCanada: In which ways do you feel Nate Dogg influenced you musically?
Warren G: He influenced my music by his soulfulness. He was so soulful, it rubbed off on me. And I actually can sing, that rubbed off on me too, just being in the studio with him, guiding and being a producer, I would learn shit. We would be teaching each other how to do different things. That was just incredible, it was great.
HipHopCanada: You were part of the birth of the G Funk movement…what does it take for a movement to succeed?
Warren G: Just being yourself. Not trying to do all the stuff…today there’s a lot of fads. Everybody follows one thing, like whoever’s the hottest guy, everybody wants to be that guy. If you’re a dope artist you don’t need that. But if you like the person, it’s someone you really want on your record, cool. But just doing it cause everybody’s doing it cause that person is hot – that ain’t cool, that’s that fad stuff. Back when we did records we was original and we did hit records. We still do hit records, it don’t stop. But we just do things that people don’t normally do and we stay ourselves. We don’t try to change up what we do, and we give it to you in a story form where you can relate to it, and once somebody can relate to what you’re doing, then that’s what keeps people rollin with you. They went through the same shit I went through. Like me talking on “This DJ” where I said “Damn, the street lights just came on, and my momma’s in the street telling me to come home.” Everybody went through that.
HipHopCanada: The legacy you started has changed over the years into the current swag generation of artists…how do you feel about the way it’s evolved?
Warren G: I can’t even tell you. I haven’t seen none of this shit that’s going on now, with the tight jeans and all that shit, I ain’t got nothing against it but I ain’t into that shit. My son wears tight jeans. I’m not against it but that’s not the type of shit that we did. We was just original with it. Women may think it’s sexy.
HipHopCanada: Well as a woman, I can say I don’t wanna see the bulge, better to leave something to the imagination!
Warren G: Motherfuckers ain’t bulging.
HipHopCanada: Speaking of bulges, I heard you’re endorsing a male enhancement supplement…what’s that about?
Warren G: A product called AffirmXL. I’m a partner. It’s about business. Extends did 4 million, if shit blow up that’s a nice paycheque. I’d be really good. It’s all about business, and what other way to blast it off than to do it myself, by doing a couple commercial and that’s what I did. And the product is great and it works. But I don’t need it. Can I pop one, you wanna see?
HipHopCanada: Well again, I prefer to leave something to the imagination.
Warren G: Okay well there it is. You wanna know if it work and there it is. You’re imagining…
HipHopCanada: I think you just made me blush. Ahem. Moving on…as a West Coast artist, what kind of differences do you notice between Canada’s West Coast and California?
Warren G: I really haven’t had a chance to really see the lifestyle of Vancouver, I’ve only been downtown. But the thing that I see here is a lot of good people. I can’t really compare to where I’m from, it’s not the same out here. You have a lot of great people and different nationalities here. We have it too, but it’s just I really love the way people are out here. Real courteous. They courteous in LA but you ain’t got that gang bang shit out here that we have. That shit ain’t no joke, it’s real.
HipHopCanada: I’m not sure if you’ve been down to Hasting Street…a lot of addicts and homeless but very little aggression. You can walk down Hastings Street in the middle of the night.
Warren G: And on that corner there’s a ton of people outside selling their stuff in that little area. That’s a humongous difference. I’m gonna tell you the way it is where we from, it’s genocide. They don’t open up to the hood, they don’t provide jobs. So when you can’t get no job, you resort to whatever else you gotta do to make money. It’s like everybody’s forced to go that route down there.
HipHopCanada: What would need to change in order for this system to break down?
Warren G: It’s built into the entire country’s system. You got guys that been to jail, rehabilitation, and they get out and want to change their life. But what happens when they try to get a job is that they get shot down cause they been in jail. So it’s like damn, what the fuck am I gonna do, they won’t give me a fucking job – I can’t do this, I can’t do that, so I might as well do this. And then they go back to selling dope, they go back to robbing and doing shit like that until they get back in jail or they’re dead.
HipHopCanada: Does hip-hop still have that draw to keep people off the streets, like opening up creative outlets instead of getting into crime?
Warren G: Yeah, it’s happening. But that game has changed. It’s not like it was when I was in the music business, the record companies are way different now. They do a 360 deal and give you a small budget, and if it blow up it blow up, if it don’t stick then they drop you. A lot of artists these days are like fuck the record companies, we gonna do this shit independent. A lot of the companies fired a lot of the people who was making it happen – marketing people, promotions – a lot of those people got fired and they’re independent now.
HipHopCanada: When you started out, what were the initial goals you hoped to achieve?
Warren G: I just wanted people to hear my music, hear what I was talking about, hear my story and feel me. And that’s what happened. Everybody felt everything that I talked about and I did, there was no bullshit it was all real talk.
HipHopCanada: And today, having hit that target, what’s left?
Warren G: I haven’t done what I wanted to do yet, I still got a lot to do. I’m not done, I’m just in the beginning. It’s a drug. I don’t want it to stop.
HipHopCanada: So in the spirit of being relatable, what story are you telling now?
Warren G: I can’t tell you the title of my new record, but a lot of the things that I am gonna talk about are things behind the scenes of the music business, and why I wanted to stop fucking with the music business. But I can’t stop fucking with it cause she pays me. That’s my job, that’s my bitch. And she’s gotta bring daddy home his money every night.
HipHopCanada: So what’s the real aversion to the music industry that you’re talking about on the upcoming record?
Warren G: Stress. I’ll just tell you that. Stress and then phoniness. I just be myself, and everybody can respect somebody who’s real. Lying and shit, if you doing that, then motherfuckers can see straight through that. If you’re real and telling the truth, people can’t do nothing but respect that. And that’s one thing about me that people love. I don’t do the Hollywood, going out and acting funny, you don’t see me with all the big chains and shit, I ain’t into all that shit. I’m into making good music. That’s what I do.
HipHopCanada: Do you think that hip-hop gets watered down by all the middle-class people who have become involved in it?
Warren G: Ain’t nothing wrong with it. If you have a talent, I don’t care who you are, what color you are, what you look like, if you’re talented you’re gonna shine regardless. It’s not about being from the middle class – if you can sing, produce, play an instrument and do it good, that’s all that counts.
HipHopCanada: Well thanks, Warren G, it’s been a pleasure.
Warren G: Thank you for interviewing me and much love to Vancouver, hopefully I’ll be back to this motherfucker again next year.
Interview conducted by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada
Photography by Tyler Simpson for HipHopCanada