In late 1992, Dr. Dre released his solo debut The Chronic. The album launched Death Row Records, and the careers of Snoop Dogg, Daz Dillinger, Kurupt, Nate Dogg, RBX, and others. It also marked the first full-length release from Dre and Suge Knight’s Death Row Records imprint. In videos such as hit single “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” and on album interlude “Deeez Nuts,” Hip-Hop Heads got an early look at Dr. Dre’s step-brother Warren G. Less than two years after The Chronic, Warren released his debut album, Regulate…The G Funk Era. It contained two Grammy-nominated singles, “Regulate” and “This DJ.” However, his contributions to The Chronic remain murky amid a crowded ensemble with Dre as the focal figure. On the newest episode of Drink Champs, Warren G opens up about the famed album—recently named one of The Most 25 Most Important Rap Albums by Ambrosia For Heads—and details what the inserts did not credit.
In the 1980s, Warren’s father, Warren Griffin, Sr. married Verna Young—mother of Dre. Speaking to Drink Champs, Warren recalls his father’s love of Jazz, and their time together in the car. “That right there is what made my style what it is and what it was.” Near the 44:00 mark, the DJ/producer/artist explains that in the late 1980s, he did not try to attempt his brother, a star of N.W.A. and Word Class Wreckin’ Crew. “I didn’t ever try to be like Dre. But he taught me the game, as far as the [Akai] MPC 60—him and [Cold] 187 [um] from Above The Law. Both taught me how to work the MPC 60. He also taught me how to splice tape, put that s__t together with the alcohol and s__t; he taught me a lot of s__t.” Warren is referring to an old school, analog method of splicing tape. Elsewhere in the conversation, he credited Cold 187um aka Big Hutch as the G-Funk pioneer.
Notably, it was at an N.W.A. pool where Warren was DJ’ing that he played music by his high school group, 213. That trio included Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg. Dr. Dre involved all three in The Chronic recording sessions. Warren explains how he helped his stepbrother, and why. “The love that he showed me was the love that I showed back, by goin’ and searchin’ for all those records—a lot of the records that we used on The Chronic. So that was my part. I would go get the records. I would take ’em, I would sample ’em up, and then I’d let him hear it. I’d be like, ‘Dre, listen to this.’ He’d listen, and he’d be like, ‘That s__t is hard.’ If he liked it, he would take that s__t and change it up, do a couple things. Like, ‘Let Me Ride’—that was a break record that I bought.”
Warren recalls finding Bill Withers’ “Kissing My Love” and Parliament’s “Mothership Connection (Starchild)” at a record store in Torrance, California. Torrance was also home to Audio Achievements, where Dr. Dre produced N.W.A. and Cold 187um produced Above The Law. Warren found the two elements of “Let Me Ride” on a breakbeat compilation. “I still got the break record to this day,” he notes—later adding that he still owns the MPC 60. “Dre took that s__t and pieced that together. When I heard that mothaf___a again, I was like, ‘God damn.’ Even the skits, like the ‘Deeez Nuts’ skit, that s__t was all organic.”
In the interview, Warren mimics a phone call with a ladyfriend that ended in the popular punchline. “That was an organic skit. I told Dre, ‘Turn the mic on!’ And we just did that in the studio one day—just sittin’ there.” Warren notes that he purchased several 1970s film scores at a record store in Los Angeles, California. He made a song with Willie Hutch’s “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” from The Mack soundtrack. The song by Willie (an uncle to Cold 187um aka Big Hutch of Above The Law) begins with film dialogue. For Warren, he was using the film elements to try and reach his brother. “That skit right there was something that I was feelin’, and he used that muh’f___a. That’s how I felt,” he asserts. The piece ended up as an intro to “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat.”
While Warren opens up about his role, he gives credit to his sibling. “All the stuff we did—we did a gang of dope-ass s__t. Like I said, Dre is a mothaf___in’ genius in the studio. He’s got no chaser; he gonna tell you straight-up if that s__t wack.” Warren also says he paid it forward. “I had a great time just doing The Chronic with him. I actually taught Daz. From [Dr. Dre] teaching me and 187 teaching me to me teaching Daz, and Daz also helping out with us on The Chronic—and Chris “The Glove.” The s__t was just amazing.” Chris “The Glove” Taylor, who appeared alongside Ice-T in Breakin’, would later join Dre’s original Aftermath production team.
Daz Dillinger, who produced his group Tha Dogg Pound, as well as Snoop, Tupac, and The Lady Of Rage, has previously claimed he produced tracks credited to Dr. Dre. “I did ‘Ain’t No Fun.’ I did a slew of songs. I did [‘Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat’]. I did a bunch of songs I just got [credited as] ‘programmed drums,’ ‘programmer,’ or something like that on there,” Daz told HipHopDX back in 2018. “It was a clobbering game back then. ‘Mine, mine, mine, take, take, take, take, take, take,” said the DPG co-founder.
At 1:54:00 in Drink Champs, Warren G is asked to choose between The Chronic and Snoop’s debut, Doggystyle, which released a year later. “I didn’t have the same input; I didn’t produce nothing on Doggystyle. Let me think about it,” Warren says. While Snoop Dogg has credited “Ain’t No Fun” as a song built on something Warren and Daz made, the Drink Champs guest does not claim it. While thinking, DJ EFN brings up why Snoop did not give Warren more credits, given his Chronic influence. “Gotta ask Snoop that s__t,” he replies with a hearty laugh.
Warren also admits that label politics prevented him from being more involved, or getting proper credit. He reveals that Death Row barred credited appearances from his 213 band-mate Snoop Dogg on his Def Jam debut. Nate Dogg appeared on “Regulate,” but the song was also licensed to appear in Above The Rim and its Death Row-released soundtrack. Nate and Snoop, who grew up with Warren, were signed to Dre and Suge’s label.
He explains, “[Doggystyle] was in the midst of me [signing] with Def Jam. I wanted to do some s__t on Doggystyle. S__t. Just like ‘This DJ’—Snoop helped write that s__t, and he was on the hook. But Death Row wouldn’t clear him. Death Row was like, ‘No. F__k that; we ain’t clearin’ s__t.’ So I said, ‘Okay, I gotta figure this s__t out because it’s gonna look crazy with Snoop not doing this hook. So I took Snoop’s voice, and I made it chipmunk.” The song would go on to earn a Grammy nomination. Of his 213 bandmate, Warren says, “He wrote the hook; I redid the hook. And Kurupt helped writing with ‘Do You See’” He explains, “That’s what we did with each other. I done did a gang of s__t for them [without credit]. Everybody would work.” It was a different era according to Warren. “We never did the business on that s__t.” The guest notes that in addition to any mismanagement of Death Row’s credits, he’s yet to receive royalties for producing MC Breed and Tupac’s “Gotta Get Mine” or Mista Grimm’s “Indo Smoke.” “I wasn’t on my s__t back then,” notes Warren—adding that he wrote elements of the Poetic Justice Soundtrack highlight he produced, which featured Nate Dogg.
Moments later, he points to Eminem, and reveals that Marshall Mathers wrote “The Watcher” from Dre’s 2001. “He wrote that for Dre; that’s one of my favorite f__kin’ songs.” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN admit that they thought JAY-Z penned that song, which appeared on The Blueprint 2 as a remix featuring Jay, Rakim, and Truth Hurts.
Later on, Warren G reveals that he still possesses a Hip-Hop artifact. “I still got the MPC that was used on The Chronic—the same one Dre taught me on.” Snoop and Dre are said to be working on a Doggystyle followup titled Missionary.
#BonusBeat: In 2021, Kurupt spoke at length about his Death Row days in an interview with Ambrosia For Heads‘ What’s The Headline podcast.