In the 1990s, three best friends at Long Beach’s renowned Polytechnic High School polished a new sound at the intersection of funk and rap music. Warren G, with the help of Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg, ushered in what will be forever known as the g-funk era. While the three didn’t create the musical subgenre, they built on the foundation created by the West Coast rap quintet Above The Law and took the sound worldwide. YouTube Originals partnered with Warren G to create G-Funk, telling the untold tales of arguably hip-hop’s most underrated legend.
The full-length documentary starts off in Long Beach, Calif. as we’re introduced to a young Warren G and Snoop Dogg. “Every time you seen Warren, you seen Snoop,” Warren recalls as he and Snoop trade stories of their early LBC experiences. They would later meet Nate Dogg at Long Beach Polytechnic High School and form the group 213.
G-Funk does a stellar job at traversing through the story of Warren G to deliver original, never heard before stories.
One of those tales comes in the form of Warren’s little-known involvement with the making of The Chronic with his step-brother, Dr. Dre. “Don’t get it f**ked up. He brought a lot of music and ideas and shit to the table,” Snoop declares as he reminisces on the album’s creative process. Aside from introducing Dr. Dre to Snoop Dogg, Warren G was also responsible for sample hunting, chopping, and ideation. In fact, Warren found two of the more important samples on the albums for the tracks “Lil’ Ghetto Boy” and “Let Me Ride.” Warren makes no qualms about his willingness to lend to the creative process or his level of respect for Dre, but the documentary makes some very pointed statements toward the good doctor.
“Warren G is one of the unsung heroes when it comes to that whole crew… he was there and Dre isn’t the kinda guy who gives everybody detailed credits,” Bay Area legend Too $hort said as he waxed poetics over the time he spent in the studio with 213. Fellow N.W.A member The D.O.C. also chimed in to give context as to why Warren’s involvement has been so understated. “Nobody gets to make a record that Dre doesn’t control,” D.O.C. stated. “He’s not gonna barter his brand so if Suge and Dre doesn’t see you as valuable behind a microphone then your work is dead in the water.”
The third act details how Warren landed with Def Jam after being passed over by Suge Knight and how he saved the storied label from extinction. By the time “Regulator” was released, Def Jam was $20 million in debt and in desperate need of a Hail Mary. “Without Warren G, we woulda had to sell the company,” Def Jam founder Russell Simmons said. “We would’ve fell apart. Without him, would we have a Jay Z or Foxy Brown? I don’t know. I don’t think so. We certainly wouldn’t have had the support to go out and build those acts.”
G-Funk is a master class on documentary filmmaking. Director Karam Gill weaves together the struggle, pain and eventual triumph of Warren G’s journey into a cohesive, conversational presentation. Packed with stories and information that even the most devout fan of hip-hop may not know, G-Funk ensures that a rap legend is given his just due.