An examination of how Warren G's biggest hit is the best rap song in the history of ever
"REGULATORZZZZ! Mount up!"
There. Now try getting that song out of your head for the next five days. You're welcome. I don't think I'm alone among folks in their thirties who have every line of Warren G's 1994 mega-hit "Regulate" memorized, but a quick sit-down with the lyrics leaves you with more than a few genuinely WTF? moments. Nate Dogg's hypnotic weed-haze singing is so damn catchy, you never stop to think about what he's actually saying. Lucky for you, I've done your homework for you. Come along on this G-funk era journey, won't you?
See also: The fifty worst rap lyrics of all time
Warren G and Nate Dogg are nothing if not master storytellers, and they've woven us a doozy with "Regulate." First, Warren G's just cruising the streets looking to pick up tail, totally minding his own business. But instead of ladies, he finds some dudes throwing dice, so he says, "Let's do this." Almost immediately, the dice dudes rob him.
At that exact same moment, Nate Dogg is also cruising the 'hood looking for Warren G. He instead finds the girls Warren G's been searching for, yet he could not possibly be less hot and bothered by them. In a scene straight out of every sweaty twelve-year-old boy's wet dream, an entire car full of comely young lasses start checking out Nate Dogg so hard that they CRASH THEIR CAR INTO A WALL! Women drivers, amirite?
Somehow I missed this key plot point the first 5,000 times I heard this song. So Nate Dogg witnesses this accident, but he's like, "No thanks, I'll just leave them there possibly to die because my Spidey-sense tells me Warren G is getting robbed." Nate Dogg's spidey sense is, of course, correct. He rolls up right as the bad guys are taking Warren G's watch, and Warren G is coming up with a brilliant rhyme for "Rolex" ("I looked at the brother, said 'Damn, what's next?!'").
Heroically, Nate Dogg steps in and kills literally everyone there.
Leaving a pile of bodies and stray bullets, Nate Dogg rescues Warren G (and presumably the Rolex and whatever was next). Now that the streets of
Compton Long Beach are awash with the blood of malcontents, Nate Dogg, satisfied, is like, "Wait, wasn't there like a car full of women that I left alone in the dark with car troubles? I wonder if they wanna get freaky with me?" There was, and they might, Mr. Dogg.
G and Dogg find the ladies in the same spot with their car crashed into the wall, "in need of some desperate help." At this point, Nate Dogg basically says he will help these girls out if they sleep with him. And, oh yeah, he's only helping them get as far as the East Side Motel.
What we've learned here is that no matter how silky his voice might be, Nate Dogg is a stone-cold gangster who only helps himself and it not to be crossed. You may not have noticed, but that's actually the end of the song -- they go to the East Side Motel.
Everything that comes after this unsubtle ending is a meditation on the state of funk and R & B music in the 1990s, with Warren G and Nate Dogg offering a brilliant synthesis of their contributions to the field and proposals for how gangster culture can blend with traditional music forms to create a new genre.
Actually, come to think about it, it makes no sense. But the breakdown ("Chords. Strings. We brings. Melody.") may be in part explained by one of the best, most gratuitous weed lines ever to sneak into a hook: "If you smoke like I smoke, then you're high like every day." Cool story, bro.
A Final Note: The Lyrics
"Sixteen in the clip and one in the hole/Nate Dogg is about to make some bodies turn cold/Now they droppin' and yellin'/it's a tad bit late/Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate."
First of all, it's very generous of him to say that Warren G was doing any regulating at all because last I checked, he was unarmed, getting robbed like a sucker in the street and he had to get rescued by Nate Dogg. Second of all, I can't think of another rap song that so perfectly juxtaposes ruthless slaughter with something your mom says to her dentist when she's stuck in traffic.
"I got a car full of girls and it's going real swell/The next stop is the East Side Motel."
Good lord. Other than retirement home dwellers, who says "swell" anymore? RIP Dogg, but that was not your best line.
"Seen a car full of girls, ain't no need to tweak." And: "I'm TWEAKING into a whole new era"
Remember in the '90s, when tweaking didn't conjure images of skinny Midwesterners cooking meth in their back sheds? Ah, yes, those were tender days.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.