Interview: Warren G at Coachella
Talking inspiration, longevity and producing in the digital age at Heineken House with the hip-hop artist
For anyone who has attended, or dreams of attending, Coachella's greatest allure might be the diversity of acts present spanning decades of cultural importance. One such act, hip-hop legend Warren G (who took the world by storm with his iconic track "Regulate" back in 1994) took the stage inside of Coachella's Heineken House this year. The rapper/producer shredded through a series of celebrated tracks (that everyone at the venue knew almost word for word) and demonstrated his impact on hip-hop and his ability to rap with the best. Post-show we spoke with him about inspiration, longevity, his greatest collaborators and how his children have impacted his music consumption.
Everyone out on the floor tonight could quote your lyrics. What happens when lyrics take on a life of their own and enter the cultural canon?
I mean, it feels good. It lets me know that what I was doing was making good music and that I was being myself and natural. I was letting people know how I felt and a lot of people understood. They could relate to what I was doing. That's what those words are about.
Was there a moment in your career where you felt like you broke through to the next level?
It was a lot of moments that let me know. The music was changing lives and helping people get through tough times by listening to some of the tough things that I went through. People could relate. A lot of people I meet that are younger than me, they always say that my album Regulate... The G Funk Era was the soundtrack to their life. Even Young Jeezy said that and that was before I produced "Leave You Alone" for him. He was like, "I want some of that kind of shit," and that's what I gave him. It's just things like that, when people tell me, it lets me know that what I did was affecting people. They've been through it.
Are you still having fun?
You're goddamn right. I am never going to stop having fun. I feel like I am 17 still.
You just put out new music in the fall.
I put out an EP last August. It was a good record that touched on things I care about. I wanted to let people know I am still there. I'm just not with Def Jam or a major label, so a lot of my fan base doesn't really know. I'm independent. But there are a lot of good things coming. I'm not going to stop with that. I've got a lot of good music and exciting things getting ready to jump off including a documentary.
Have streaming services and the disruption in the music industry changed how you produce music?
No. Not at all. You just got to be yourself. There's nothing to switch up. You've got to stick with what got you where you are. Changing up, people will say, that isn't him. As far as the production side, I am going to still do my thing. People can continue to expect good music from me. Still, there are a lot of people out there who don't know who I am. They do, but they don't. They don't know my name but they've heard the music. I've got to let them know.
You've collaborated with a lot of talented people. Do you have a favorite?
I mean, my favorite people to work with were Snoop and Nate. The 213. It's magic, man. Whatever we did and still do together, it's automatic. It's something that we have. A chemistry like none other.
Where do you get your inspiration from these days?
Hearing a lot of new music and new producers and artists. Hearing them and seeing what they're doing inspires me. And the classics. Old R&B, but also stuff from the '70s and '80s, too. Soul and jazz, as well. All genres from before me, because I still get inspiration and ideas there. It all started from those artists. My father raised me around a lot of jazz. The good soulfulness that you feel in my music, that's where it comes from. To this day, Chuck Mangione is one of the best. One record from him stuck with me all my life. Every time I hear that it reminds me of my father chilling in the living room.
Now, I like Drake. I like what he's doing. He is by himself doing his thing the way he wants. And he's a ladies man. He hit the shit right on the button, whether if it's about the ladies or a situation. That's what people like. He has a song called "30 for 30" and that's one of my favorites. That motherfucker is dope.
What brought you to Coachella this year?
Heineken brought me to the Heineken House. I'm very glad that they brought me in here. Me and Ice Cube, we went on at the same time. He's on the main stage, but you let me get on that stage and I will tear it up. Hopefully in the next years you'll see me rocking up there. I'm just glad to be here rocking at Coachella and I'm grateful.
What do you do when you're not making music?
Mostly raising my kids and being involved in their lives, as far as work and school. I've got two daughters and a son that play soccer. I've got another son who's a sophomore, a four star cornerback in high school. My oldest, the 18-year-old, he wants to be a cook. I'm taking my time with them to help them do what they want to do in life. I want to create lives for them where their kids can eat and then their kids after them. I don't want them going through what I went through.
Do you ever get new music from them?
Shit, we damn near be listening to the same thing. I am listening to all the new shit too... I've got to stay up to date with what's going on. We are right there with each other.
Warren G will be performing again this coming Saturday, 23 April 2016, at Coachella's Heineken House.
Images courtesy of Benjamin Lozovsky / BFA