G Funk predominately consumes most of the West Coast's atmosphere, and Warren G has always been one of it's main representatives since it's incarnation not too long ago. Warren has always been one of the West's most underrated figures. His brilliant debut album "Regulate: The G Funk Era" took the Hip-Hop world by storm in '94 with its melodic vocals and smooth, G'd up yet funky production. With such megahits as "Regulate," "Do You See" and "This DJ," the album went onto huge success putting Warren in the forefront of all West Coast figures. However, the road from there has not been a pleasant one for Warren. His sophomore effort "Take A Look Over You're Shoulder" was a disappointing failure and his third release "All I Need" was sort of a redemption but its over burdensome guest appearances brought it down. So in 2001, Warren G returned with his newest installment "The Return Of The Regulator 2002."
Like most artists who have seen the best and worst of times during their careers, Warren promised a return to his roots, which is becoming an all to familiar theme lately, with "Return Of The Regulator". Unfortunately, the album fails to capture the same aura of G Funk music that was popularized in the early to mid 90's. The bad part is the problems do not lie mainly in one are and tend to show up on all aspects of the album.
As noted, Warren G technically isn't the most sound emcee out there. His flow and charisma are sound enough to get him by, but lyrically Warren needs to see improvement. The bulk of "Return Of The Regulator" is consumed by the same old gangsta tales that have plagued the West for years. Lyrically Warren isn't saying much, which is never more evident on tracks such as "It Ain't Nothin' Wrong With You," "Somethin' To Bounce To" and the Stevie Wonder sampled "Ghetto Village." Besides Warren's lyricism, the production aspect of "Return Of The Regulator" is just as inconsistent.
Warren G has always been one of the finer producers to come out of the West. He rarely lends his production contributions to any projects outside of his own, which would lead you to think Warren would have an arsenal of great tracks just waiting. To everyone's surprise that is not the case with over half of the album. Most of the production tends to be either hit or miss, which helps lead to its downfall. The George Clinton collaboration on "Speed Dreamin," "Keepin It Strong" featuring El Debarge and "Here Comes Another Hit" featuring Nate Dogg are all average tracks but lack something, especially in the production are, that would have put them over the top.
"Return Of The Regulator" isn't riddled with such problems throughout its entirety. The lead single "Lookin At You" is a brilliant Dr. Dre produced track, which fits nicely among Warren's finest material. "Yo Sassy Ways" featuring Snoop and Nate Dogg is the long awaited 213 reunion track and delivers that experience only the three can provide. The track's gorgeous baseline and melodic feel make it one of the finer moments seen on the album. But what would be a G Funk album without its share of gansta images and harsh depiction's of the streets. "This Gangsta Shit Is Too Much" featuring Butch Cassidy and the gangbangin tales of "Young Locs Slow Down" featuring WC and Butch Cassidy are truly great due to the type of G Funk production we all expect Warren to provide. Butch Cassidy also comes through with some truly great performances. His ability to transform an average track to the next level is uncanny and rivals Nate Dogg as the West's best utility man. When Warren's production takes charge is when we witness the album we all thought we would. Tracks like the blazing "They Lovin Me Now" featuring Butch Cassidy and "Streets Of LBC" are all typical, generic tracks but are entertaining none the less.
"Return Of The Regulator" is a solid but disappointing release from West Coast veteran Warren G. While most West Coast aficionados will be pleased with Warren's latest effort, its inconsistency in numerous areas will leave most yearning for more. As Warren G has progressed and grown over the years, its sad to say that his music hasn't taken the same path. In order to truly achieve longevity and success Warren is going to have to take his music to the next level and expand his horizons beyond the typical thug references his is ever so accustomed to spitting. Even after four albums, it seems we still don't know who Warren G actually is. The lack of originality and deep insight into the person Warren is himself maybe a needed change for the listener to truly grasp not only who Warren G the artist is but the person himself. And while change may not be a welcomed, it may be a necessity in order for Warren to truly achieve the success he deserves.