Issue 61 (2004)
“This is Elementary school all the way through church and Pop Warner football to summer programs in King Park.” – Warren G
If you talk to Warren G, it will only take a few moments to realize just how far the history of 213 goes back. Some may look at the reunion of Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Warren as a contrived attempt to return to ’93-’94 when they were all at the forefront of the rap game, but true fans know that this has been in the making since they were all kids growing up together in the neighborhood. As cheesy as it sounds before there was any “Groupie Luv,” collaborations with Dre, successful solo careers or acting gigs there was a group of three friends who just wanted to make it. With the release of their debut, “The Hard Way,” they have started a new chapter.
“Me and Snoop played Pop Warner football,” recalled Warren thinking back to when they first met as kids. “I played six or seven years straight and Snoop played about five or six years straight. That’s all we used to do play football, clown around and have fun and in the off-season we would sell candy. We were some hustlers. There was another place named Supreme and they used to have us go around getting subscriptions for newspapers and shit like that. It was that and being in the neighborhood around OGs.”
As Warren and Snoop entered high school, Snoop met up with Nate Dogg. They stayed getting in trouble as Nate would make beats off the desk while Snoop rapped during class. After school they would hit the basketball courts and continued to battle each other playing for rival teams in the church league around their neighborhood. Warren’s focus was mainly football. During high school he quit the Pop Warner league for a chance play Varsity at his high school.
“I was playing junior bantam football and the coach from the school came and told me to come play for George so I went to play Varsity,” remembered Warren. “I got over to that motherfucker and it was all about grades determining whether you could play or not. I got in there and I was fucking up in school a little bit and my grade point average wasn’t all the way there so I couldn’t play. I was fucked up because he got me to quit one league and then I came over and couldn’t play. That kinda blew my whole thing so I was like I’ll just play in junior college and try and get a scholarship.”
With his grades suffering the initial plan of getting a D-1 scholarship was getting further out of reach, but it’s funny how things have a way of working themselves out. During the time between high school and junior college, Warren started deejaying at parties and putting together some music with Snoop and Nate. They came up with the name 213, the area code for Long Beach at the time, and started going around rapping and performing at clubs for free just trying to get a rep. While the clubs were slow to come around the streets knew them well.
“We were known for just battling niggas,” boasted Warren. “We would battle anybody. We didn’t care if they were from Compton, L.A. or Pomona we wanted to get down. So one day we were like fuck it let’s test the waters for real. We went up to the Roxy because we heard this is supposed to be the spot where niggas really get down. That’s where Snoop and Kurupt clashed. They started battling and going at it and everybody was like ‘who won?’ but they were neck and neck.”
Even after gaining a rep as a formidable crew in the area, on the grand scheme of things 213 still were just a local group that no label wanted to give a chance. Their demo was rejected with no explanations and reality started setting in that this music thing may not happen. They were all young and wanted to impress the ladies but they were broke and with very few options available to them they started hustling to survive. This led to their gang banging stages and seeing a lot of there friends killed or sent to jail. Even through all the drama and doubts they still kept their passion for music. They were so serious about it that they were planning to rob a place just to get equipment. But instead they decided to keep it legal and Warren stepped in and called up Snoop and told him they all needed to make a change because the life they was living was gonna lead them to the same place as their friends.
“Snoop was in jail, Nate was getting into trouble and I was in and out of the county back and forth,” admitted Warren. “I called Snoop on the phone and I was like look dogg niggas need to just stop and be like fuck it if we gonna be broke then we just gonna be broke but let’s try our hardest to make this thing happen.”
Then one day Warren went to visit his older brother Dr. Dre who he hadn’t seen in a while. They were throwing a bachelor party and Warren rolled up just to chill. Music was playing and the girls were dancing and everyone was having a good time until they ran out of music. With no music the party stopped and almost instinctively Warren went in his pocket and popped in a tape he had brought with him to get the party going again. The tape, a mix of songs he, Nate and Snoop put together, had everybody buzzing wondering who the group was. L.A. Reid was at the party and grabbed Dre so he could hear it.
“Dre was like this shit is dope ‘who is that?’ and I told him it was me Snoop and Nate,” says The G Child. “It was a song called “Long Beach is A Motherfucker.” He was like damn I didn’t know ya’ll were putting it down like that. Why don’t ya’ll come up to the studio on Monday so I can sit down and holla at ya’ll. Snoop and me were going through it at the time so when I called him he was acting funny hanging up and shit. I called back and was like cut the bullshit man Dre’ want to get with us and he was like nigga you lying and hung up. So I called Dre on the 3-way and he was like nigga I want to fuck with ya’ll. We went up to the studio and Snoop did a song called “Gangsta’s Life.” From then on we started doing stuff with Snoop and then Dre was like fuck it I’m gonna do another album. We all put our minds together and came up with a great album for Dre, which was “The Chronic.”
Once the Chronic dropped the world was introduced to Snoop and he and Dre started collaborating and working together on their own. Snoop’s rapid rise as a soloist effectively put the 213 project on the backburner. With no group effort Warren had to try and get in where he could so he started producing. In the meantime, Snoop and Nate were both signed to Death Row leaving Warren was on the outside looking in.
“I ain’t gonna lie I felt left out,” Warren confessed. “I still stayed down and we did the Chronic but I wanted to do more than just DJ. I deejay, rap, and produce, I’m a hundred per center but I wasn’t getting an opportunity to show that. Then Dre was like you need to go out and make something happen for yourself. That hurt me to death to hear that because I was ride or die Death Row bottom line. That’s when I went out and did my thing with Def Jam.”
At this point a 213 album was not looking like it would happen. Snoop was on top of the world with his album Doggystyle, while Nate and Warren were on the sidelines. The people at Def Jam liked what they heard when they peeped Indo Smoke on the Poetic Justice Soundtrack. Nate and Warren were blowing up on there own with Regulator and as time went on and each member settled into their solo careers a group album seemed less likely.
“I started getting like this motherfucker ain’t gonna happen so let me just give up on this shit,” admits Warren. [Then] about a year ago cats kept asking me in interviews what’s going on with 213 and I was like ya’ll need to holla at Snoop and let the nigga know that this could be some big shit. So I guess someone finally touched him and he knew what was real.”
It was just getting everyone together to get into the studio but once it was on it was on because the chemistry was still intact. “We have a ball, that’s the way we do in the studio,” says Warren. “We go in there smoke some weed, clown around, and talk some shit. The beats will be playing and one of them will just hit us. Then somebody mght say ‘I want to be your manager’ and bam there goes the hook. Nate will start singing and we start putting it down and it just comes together. Snoop brings the gangsta, I bring the funk and Nate brings the soul and it just all matches up.”
While the main reason behind the 213 album was to first realize something that was set in motion in childhood and second was for the fans to see that they are all still close and they kept their promise to drop the album. but another reason the three came together was to help to bring the west coast back up again.
“Ain’t no unity out here. It’s important for the west coast cuz it’s a void out here.”
Although fans have been excited for 213’s return several have wondered why neither Dre nor Warren contributed any beats to the project.
“Ain’t no way in the world we should be doing this 213 record without a Dre track,” claimed Warren. “I don’t know why it didn’t happen. I didn’t even produce one track on the album because I rolled with what Snoop and Nate said. They said they wanted to get other flavors so I said aiight. I didn’t want to be the one going against the grain, I’m just kicking it. But I guarantee on the next one I’m gonna do half if not the whole motherfucking album. I just did two new remixes though to “Grupie Luv.” I did a mix for Europe and a club mix for here. I’m not gonna lie I think I should have did half the album but what I did do is these remixes.”
Following up the 213 album will be solos from all three mebers. “I plan on releasing a solo project but then after that I’m gonna focus on my other groups like the five footers and this R&b cat named Junie Boy.”