In light of the passing of Nate Dogg recently, I thought I'd post this essay I wrote a while back breaking down a song of his...
I’d like to share my thoughts on something that has been on my mind to share for months (if not years): an analysis of the lyrics to “Regulate” by Warren G featuring Nate Dogg released in 1994. I feel it’s necessary because I think that many people, like myself have never really contemplated the lyrics and have just taken the opening quote to mean that Warren G and Nate Dogg are bad asses who kill people. Without further adieu:
The song starts off with an audio clip from the movie “Young Guns:”
Regulators. We regulate any stealing of his property and we damn good too! But you can't be any geek off the street, you gotta be handy with the steel if you know what I mean, earn your keep!
The regulators aforementioned were real. Historically known as the Lincoln County Regulators, these gents played a part of the 1878 Lincoln County War in the New Mexico Territory. The regulators were basically a band of young men looking for revenge for the murder of their boss, and they were out for blood. This was a group of bad ass folks that you wouldn’t have wanted to come across if you could help it. Not to mention that the old west was a pretty tough place, and to be an enforcer in a time/place like that would have required you to be tougher than most (which is like a zillion times tougher than 99% of the people alive today – yours truly included)
After this initial quote someone (don’t know who) says:
REGULATORS!!! MOUNT UP!
Then Warren G starts in with the first verse:
It was a clear black night, a clear white moon, Warren G was on the streets, trying to consume, some skirts for the eve, so I can get some funk, just rollin in my ride, chillin all alone
Okay, I think this verse is pretty clear: Warren G is driving in his car alone, at night looking for some female companionship.
The next verse is sung by Nate Dogg:
Just hit the Eastside of the LBC on a mission trying to find Mr. Warren G. Seen a car full of girls ain't no need to tweak all you skirts know what's up with 2-1-3
Nate is driving in the Eastside Neighborhood (roughly bound by E. Willow St., N. Redondo Ave., E. 7th Avenue and the Los Angeles River) in Long Beach California searching for Warren G. While searching for Warren G, Nate sees a group of girls in a car, but doesn’t get too excited (since presumably he could just have his way with the next car full of girls). I think the reference to the skirts knowing what’s up with 2-1-3 is a way of alluding to the sexual prowess and general macho ness of men from Long Beach, from where Warren G and Nate Dogg hail.
However, one could be confused in hearing this song which was released in 1994 because in 1991 Long Beach was assigned a new area code: 310 [post title, yipee!]. Los Angeles has undergone 13 area code changes since since this song came out in 1994 and 213 today refers only to Downtown Los Angeles. LBC’s area code is now 562. I’m not sure how much of Los Angeles was covered by 213 in 1994, but for sure Long Beach had been 310 for 3 years when this song was released. So the men from Long Beach may be known for their sexual prowess, but they’re certainly not known for their current events, since they didn’t even know the area code of the area in which they were living.
Another verse by Warren G:
So I hooks a left on the 21 and Lewis some brothas shootin dice so I said "Let's do this". I jumped out the ride, and said "What's up?" Some brothas pulled some gats so I said "I'm stuck."
While Warren G was driving in the geographic center of the Eastside neighborhood in his car alone, at night looking for some female companionship he observed some men playing a dice and he wanted to join in, however when he approached them to inquire about joining their game, they pulled guns on him. It is doubtful that he actually said “I’m stuck”. – It is more likely that he thought this rather than actually saying it out loud.
Another verse by Nate:
Since these girls peepin me I'ma glide and swerve, these hookers lookin so hard they straight hit the curb. On to bigger better things than some horny tricks. I see my homey and some suckers all in his mix.
Still searching for his friend Warren, Nate decides, despite of the reputation of men from the 213 area code, to show off a bit in front of the car full of girls. The girls were so enamored by the amorous Nate Dogg that they were stopped paying attention to the road in front of them, and crashed their car into the curb. After eschewing the girls he finally finds Warren in trouble, surrounded by guys with guns.
Another verse by Warren:
I'm gettin jacked, I'm breakin myself, I can't believe they taking Warren's wealth. They took my rings, they took my rolex, I looked at the brothas said "Damn, what's next?"
I formerly tacked the issue of Warren’s wealth vs. Lawrence Welk on my now nearly defunct blog on May 1, 2008, so I won’t belabor that point. So what I think Warren is saying here is that the guys with the guns took all of his valuables (I think we can interpolate that rings & rolex = jewelry, money, credit cards, dope, etc [anything of value]). But the next line has bothered me for some time. I don’t think he actually asked the guys with guns, “Damn, what’s next?” Warren G might have thought that, but I doubt he actually said it to the guys who were pointing guns at him…because the answer would inevitably have been “a bullet in your dome”, and no one wants that answer. I’d imagine that Warren was freaking about a bunch of guys pointing guns at him and robbing him, hence the lyric “I’m breakin’ myself”.
The next verse is by Nate Dogg:
They got my homey hemmed up and they all around, ain't none of them seeing if they going straight pound for pound. I gotta come up real quick before they start to clown I best pull out my strap and lay them busters down.
At this point in the song you have no reason to think Nate Dogg is anything but someone who talks the talk only. First, Nate says he’s not interested in the girls in the car; then, he tries to impress them. Second, Nate doesn’t know the area code in which he lives…he seems like all talk…until this verse. Nate says that Warren is surrounded, but none of those guys are interested in fist fighting Warren (obviously Nate sees the guns and is disgusted by their insistence on guns rather than fisticuffs). However, since the brothas introduced guns into the equation, Nate’s only option (although he’d prefer a good fist fight) is to respond in kind, with a gun. However, Nate Dogg also recognizes that he is grossly outnumbered and the un-wealthed, un-gunned Warren G isn’t going to be any help, so he must sneak up on these brothas/busters and kill all of them with his gun. At this point I think you begin to think that perhaps Nate can also walk the walk.
They got guns to my head, I think I'm going down. I can't believe this happenin’ in my own town. If I had wings I would fly, let me contemplate, I glanced in the cut and I see my homey Nate
Warren clearly thinks this is the end for him. The next line doesn’t quite make sense either, because of the brothas/Nate’s reckless use of guns I do not accept that Warren “can’t believe this happenin’ in my own town”. It seems like since they start the song talking about the machismo and chutzpah of residents of Long Beach, California that it is expected that any random person could be murdered on the streets of LBC…in fact it happens in the next verse. Also the “if I had wings I would fly” bit seems a little ghey. Warren notices Nate, not a moment too soon…
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.
Nate undoubtedly isn’t carrying a revolver since he’s got 17 bullets at his immediate disposal. It is unclear if Nate needs to use all 17 (I’m betting he’s a crack shot), but regardless the end result is the same: the brothas/busters that just a second ago had guns to Warren G’s head are all now dead, thanks to Nate’s stealthy moves and laser like accuracy. I think only because Nate Dogg is the one “feat” on the song (it’s Warren G’s song, after all) does he say that “Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate”. It’s pretty obvious that Nate Dogg was the one who regulated. Warren G sat there without a gun and watched Nate terminate the lives of all the brothas/busters. Nate Dogg is really the hero. Warren G is the guy whose “A” was just pulled out of the fire.
I laid all them busters down, I let my gat explode. Now I'm switching my mind back into freak mode. If you want skirts sit back and observe, I just left a gang of those over there on the curb
After killing the unnumbered busters Nate, a true man’s man, suddenly remembers those girls he said he wasn’t interested in impressing (but then tried [successfully] to impress), and quickly forgets about the killing. Then Nate, the generous guy that he is, instructs us (the listener) how to get girls [“sit back and observe”].
Meanwhile, Warren G says:
Now Nate got the freaks and that's a known fact, before I got jacked I was on the same track. Back up back up cause it's on: N A T E and me the Warren to the G
I think what Warren G is saying here is only about ½ reliable. Although I believe Nate likes women, I’m starting to think that “skirts” Warren G was singing about in the first verse may have been men in skirts. After all, if you were cruising the streets looking for ahem, “female companionship” why would you stop at a dice game being played by a bunch of dudes? The answer: you wouldn’t, you’d keep on moving to find those females, hit it, and then quit it. However, if you were looking for a man in a skirt (as it were), and you saw a group of guys, and you know that roughly 10% of people are ghey (and possibly a higher percentage in and around Los Angeles where that sort of thing is trendy), and therefore the odds are pretty high of there being at least 1 ghey guy in the group, then you stop and “shoot dice with them” (so to speak). Therefore, I’m not sure Warren G was on the “same track” as Nate, as indicated in this verse.
Nate (as smooth as ever)
Just like I thought they were in the same spot in need of some desperate help. But Nate Dogg and the G-child were in need of something else. One of them dames was sexy as hell, I said "ooo I like your size." She said "my car's broke down and you seem real nice, would ya let me ride?" I got a car full of girls and it's going real swell the next stop is the Eastside Motel.
Nate, once again finds the girls that in verse 4 “hit the curb” and apparently their car is wrecked. Nate’s “gliding and swerving” caused them to wreck their car. We could only be so lucky to glide and swerve in a fashion as capable as Nate Dogg.
I think also Nate gives a closeted reference to his & Warren G’s differing sexual preferences by saying “Nate Dogg and the G-child were in need of something else”, meaning they were in need of different things (vagina vs. penis, in this case).
One of the girls starts hitting on Nate, and before you know it she and all of the girlfriends who were formerly in the wrecked car are in Nate’s car, and they’re all going back to the Eastside Motel, presumably to fornicate. Remember in verses 1 & 2 it is obvious that Warren and Nate are in different cars, so at the end of this verse it is evident that Nate is going to the motel to fornicate and Warren is alone in his car, left to seek his “alternative” companionship alone, because Warren G quickly changes the subject to something else…
Warren’s subject change
I'm tweaking into a whole new era, G-Funk step to this, I dare ya. Funk on a whole new level…
I think “tweaking into a whole new era” means that Warren has decided to come out of the closet and live an openly ghey lifestyle. It’s really Funk on a whole new level…
the rhythm is the bass and the bass is the treble
Nate senses the upside down unnatural order of Warren’s carnal lustings and in this line pontificates how Warren has switched teams (so to speak): “the bass is the treble” – could it be any more obvious?
Warren continues along his changed subject line
Chords. Strings. We brings: Melody. G-Funk: where rhythm is life, and life is rhythm
More cryptic ghey references…
Nate finishes strong, like a Man
If you know like I know, you don't wanna step to this. It's the G-Funk era, funked out with a gangsta twist. If you smoke like I smoke, then you’re high like everyday, And if your ass is a buster 2-1-3 will regulate.
In the first line of the last verse Nate is saying this: don’t mess with him or he will kill you with his gun. Unless you don’t have a gun, in which case Nate will pummel you to death with his fists. Then Nate goes on to flaunt his lawlessness and say that he smokes drugs everyday. Not most days, not occasionally, not “when I’m at a bar,” but EVERY DAY.
So basically the song paints a vivid picture that Nate is a real ladies man who can have intercourse with a whole car full of girls (even the presumably ugly ones who were inevitably there), right after murdering several people, while high on drugs – WITH NO PROBLEM. There’s only one regulator in this song: Nate Dogg.
Warren G, on the other hand is really only shown to be competent in driving a car and having his “A” saved by Nate Dogg. Warren seems to be confused about his sexuality, and then comes out of the closet – which I think you’ll agree is so cryptic that it’s tough to determine exactly what he’s saying. Does he have a crush on Nate? Is “Melody” the name of ghey bar in Long Beach? At the worst I think Warren G is a ghey, at the best, he’s straight, but he’s a “P”.
And reflecting on Nate's untimely death, perhaps getting high every day wasn't such a good idea after all...