West Coast Icon, Warren G, one-third of the Cali group 213 and stepbrother to super producer Dr. Dre, first captured mainstream fans' ears in 1994 with his classic debut single, "Regulate" and album, Regulate...G Funk Era, perfecting the medium between G-Funk and West Coast Gangster Music. As one of the Coast's most prolific and consistent artists, his laid back flow and smoked-out production created the perfect soundtrack for any California day.
His subsequent albums haven't always lived up to the promise of the first, but every time Warren G has taken the independent label route, classic songs have never been far behind. From "Do What It Do" or "Walk These Streets" off of 1999's I Want It All to "Gangsta Love" and "You Never Know" from 2005's In The Mid-Nite Hour, the production and features have been on point. Now, here we are in 2009 with G releasing his sixth solo album, The G Files, on E1 Music (formerly Koch Records).
Warren doesn't waste any time introducing the best song of the album. After a brief intro, "West is Back" comes through the speakers and instantly you find yourself nodding your head, and singing along to the song you’ve just heard for the first time. Even if you hail from another coast, the smoothness of this track, featuring Halla and Mr. Lucc, will have you throwing up the West Coast sign and proclaiming the return of the Left. Also worthy of multiple replays is "Lets Get High," featuring Black Nicc & Travis Barker and "100 Miles and Running." The former is definitely made with rolling paper in mind. The high from the production's elevated quality will have you reminiscing over easier times. On the latter Warren fits tight beats around the flow of Raekwon and Nate Dogg, and hitches a catchy hook to make this song a win.
On certain parts of "Skate Skate", Halle sounds like he doesn't hear the beat, but once the hook comes along and the song's title is repeated over and over, you get caught up. It's one of those you will hate to love, but will jam to anyway. Seriously speaking, if you have forgotten how good Warren is at producing, this whole album is a testament.
The beat on "True Star," featuring BJ, the only one Warren didn't produce, is a fail. It is immediately annoying, the chorus makes it worst, and being sandwiched in between "West is Back" and "Lets Get High" doesn't help any. The lead single with Snoop Dogg and Cassie Davis, "Swagger Rich," is a thinly-veiled attempt to get the attention of the younger generation, but unfortunately the word "swagger" has already been over-abused, and the Snoop feature does nothing to help the song. "Drinks Aint Free" and "Ringtone" have all the symptoms of typical filler songs, but would have made okay interludes that last about 2-3 minutes too long.
Bottom line: the missteps are minimal.. The Hip Hop legend has added another worthy album to his catalog, and will hopefully give the unusually-quiet West Coast a much-needed boost.