Regulators. We regulate any stealin' of his property.
We’re damn good too. But you can’t be any geek off the street.
You gotta be handy with the steel, if you know what I mean.
Earn your keep.
This week we have another smack you upside the head, banger classic. Warren G & Nate Dogg's "Regulate".
Everybody knows this storybook rap song. If you group up in the 90s chances are you know every word of it too.
The song originally debuted on the Above The Rim movie soundtrack before taking on a life of its own for not only its catchy sound but also the realistic and slightly comedic allegory portraying the song's two characters.
Before being allowed to enjoy the spoils of a gaggle of girls, Wareen G and Nat Dogg have to get gangsta on some fools, aka "Regulate". The song is the epitome of "G-Funk".
And it of course samples the iconic Michael McDonald's classic "I Keep Forgetting".
ORIGINAL - Michael McDonald - I Keep Forgetting
For the younger stoolies not familiar with Michael McDonald he was the original funk doc. He was apart of the one and only Doobie Brothers, sang backup in Steeley Dan, and had a cameo in The 40 Year Old Virgin (fun fact). He also had a pretty successful solo career. The guy's won five Grammy's.
"I Keep Forgetting", was released in 1982. It peaked at number four on the Billboard charts, and number seven on the Billboard R&B chart. It's most notable for it's one of a kind deep bassline.
A little behind the scenes of how the collab/sample came about via Warren G himself and Billboard.
Billboard - Warren tells Billboard.com. "I'm a fan. I'm still a fan. I really love his work, man. I think he's one of the greatest of all time. His voice is incredible."
When Warren started work on "Regulate," he had no idea it would appear on the "Above the Rim" soundtrack. He'd just picked up a bundle of vinyl records from a dealer outside of Rosco'’s Chicken and Waffles in L.A., and one of them was McDonald’s "I Keep Forgettin'," a tune he knew straight away he needed to sample.
"I was like, 'Wow, this is an incredible record—plus it's a record my stepmom and my pops used to play," Warren says. "It brought back feelings for me of living with my parents, when we lived in North Long Beach. They used to jam with some good music, man."
At the time, Warren was living in a dingy apartment on Long Beach Boulevard with dog crap all over the floor. He hadn't yet risen to superstar status like his stepbrother Dr. Dre or good buddy Snoop Dogg — with whom he and Nate had founded the group 213 — but he was a striver. Maybe that's why he related to the Wild West outlaws in "Young Guns," a movie he happened to watch one night on VHS. It was a fortuitous viewing, as one line of dialogue — "Regulators: We regulate any stealing of this property, and we’re damn good, too" — caught his ear.
"That was our word: regulate," Warren recalls. "Oh, we gotta regulate that, or we gotta regulate this."
Realizing the line would make a great sample — and pair nicely with the McDonald bass groove and melody already swimming in his head — he plugged the VCR straight into his Akai MPC60 sequencer.
Warren G then layered in a sample riff lifted from Bob James' 1981 funky jazz-fusion cut "Sign of the Times."
Warren knew he had a hit on his hands if he could put vocals worthy enough over the beat. He thought if he could convince Nate Dogg to collab on a back and forth storytelling style rap like his step brother Dr. Dre and Snoop did on "Nuthin But A G Thang" he'd be golden.
So he called up Nate Dogg and invited him over and the two went to work.
The two went back and forth, Warren penning the first four bars and then passing the pen to Nate. Before long, they'd banged out the first verse and set the scene for the song’s strange, somewhat dreamlike narrative. In the opening lines, our heroes are cruising around Long Beach in separate cars, looking for female companionship. If Warren and Nate had a rough idea of where the story was going next, they didn't have a chorus.
The two were stumped on coming up with a hook for the song. Nothing seemed to work. Eventually, they decided the song was awesome without one so they said fuck it.
Onward they went to the second verse:
Warren sees some guys on the street shooting dice and decides to take a break from chasing skirts and join them. Things take a dangerous turn when the dudes pull out guns, but luckily, Nate Dogg is on the scene. Even though he's been busy scoping out some hotties who just crashed their car into a curb, he springs into action.
"I laid all them busters down / I let my Gat explode," Nate sings, sounding like a gangsta Luther Vandross. "Now I'm switching my mind back into freak-mode."
After Nate empties his clip and makes some "bodies turn cold" — a line radio bleeped back in the day — the story has a happy ending. He, Warren, and the girls with the broken-down ride wind up at the East Side Motel, where they presumably enjoy one another's company. According to Warren, the lyrics are partially autobiographical, though the bit about being held up during the dice game stems from something that happened to a friend of his.
"That’s how we do — be with the girls, hanging out with our buddies," he says. "Back then, it was a lot of haters, 'cause we had women and stuff like that. You're in different neighborhoods, and there's crime in those neighborhoods It was really rough back then."
McDonald is actually a big fan of the record. And he has admitted numerous times his kids openly tell him they prefer "Regulate" over his "I Keep Forgetting".
Though not a huge rap fan, he is on the record as "respecting its creativeness"
"Rap is like any other genre: There are the people who are very creative with it and do remarkable things… and then there's that whole quadrant that sounds alike," McDonald says. "There's great stuff that's taken the genre to a new level over the years, and 'Regulate' was one of those tracks that was kind of a landmark."
And regarding the songs violent lyrics and makeup he could't give a shit -
"I just left that to the artist," he says. "I don't think I really knew what the lyrics were about, to be honest with you. When I listen to songs to this day, I listen to the chords and the groove and the melody. Most times, lyrics are the last thing I listen to, being a musician. It wasn't until years later I understood what the song is about. It’s his story."
And a big fun fact- McDonald was quick to agree to clear the sampling of the record because he sampled the song himself! The original song at the bottom of all of this is the 1962 Jazz tune by Leiber and Stoller "I Keep Forgetting".
Other songs with sample production credits include -
Bob James - Sign Of The Times (listen to the very beginning you'll know right away)
Parliament - Mothership Connection (Star Child) (at the 5:35 mark)
and The Evasions - Wikka Wrap (at the 19 second mark)
p.s. - In 2015 Warren G performed the song with sax great Kenny G on Jimmy Kimmel's show.
p.p.s. - Warren does not specialize in singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame". If you were there or watching on TV that day you know. Props to Len Kasper for keeping it together for this.