Warren G kept close ties to Death Row Records despite never officially signing to the label. His step-brother Dr. Dre, co-founded the legendary West Coast label, while his 213 group mates Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg became two of the label’s biggest stars during their 1990s heyday.
Despite his affiliation with the camp and contributions to classic Death Row releases such as The Chronic, Doggystyle and the Above the Rim soundtrack, Warren G didn’t share the best relationship with the label’s infamous CEO Suge Knight.
During a recent appearance on Talib Kweli’s People’s Party podcast, the G-Funk legend recalled the time he got into an altercation with Knight over Snoop Dogg’s Death Row contract.
Warren G began by revealing he advised Snoop against signing the paperwork without letting a lawyer look over the terms of the deal. “I told Snoop ‘No, don’t sign that. You don’t know what you’re signing. You gotta get a lawyer to look at that stuff,’” he remembered. “And I was a young buck saying this!”
Warren G’s sage advice was brought to Suge Knight’s attention by a “whistleblower.” Needless to say, it didn’t sit well with the former football star and bodyguard, who tracked Warren G down and pressed him over the issue.
“He was like, ‘Aye, blood! Where Warren G at?!’” he continued. “And I was like, ‘Shit, what’s up?’ He said, ‘Aye, blood. You told them not to sign that contract?!’ I took off! But the only way you could get down was the elevator, so I’m at the elevator like [hurriedly pressing the button]. He grabbed me and pushed me up against the wall and was like, ‘You told them not to sign that contract, blood?!
According to Warren G, he refused to let Suge intimidate him and threatened to call for backup — including one particularly trigger-friendly friend.
“I said, ‘N-gga, if you don’t get your hands off me, I’m calling my brother, I’m calling all my homeboys,’” he said. “He let me go. And I had one of my guys with me; luckily he didn’t have no gun ’cause he was a gunner. If he’d have had something, he probably would’ve shot him — and I didn’t want him to do it, but he probably would’ve. I know how he is.”
Despite escaping from the altercation unscathed, Warren G says that moment set the tone for his future dealings with Death Row, who would often freeze him out of tours and other projects. Worse yet, being cut-off from the label meant Warren was forced to go back to the hood to regroup.
“From that point on, we didn’t see eye to eye,” he added. “I didn’t hate him, but when it was time to start hitting the road and doing things like that, it was like, ‘We don’t got a ticket for you, you ain’t going.’ I’m like, ‘Why? Shit, what the fuck is that?!’ Dre was like, ‘Go and be your own man. Do your thang.’
“It hurt. It was fucked up. I had to go back to the hood, sleeping on the floor and all I had was my crate of records that I was helping out with The Chronic, I had my MPC60 drum machine, my Teknik and my Numark mixer.”
However, it was those very tools and that desire to succeed that resulted in Warren G signing to Def Jam Records and becoming a star in his own right.
“But that combination right there made me into doing Regulate… G-Funk Era and doing records for 2Pac, ‘Definition of a Thug N-gga’ and MC Breed ‘Gotta Get Mine’ — all that led to that,” he said. “I never had no hate or nothing towards nothing that happened. I just kept it pushing.”
During the interview, Warren G also addressed Snoop Dogg‘s recent comments that he helped ghostwrite his 1994 debut album Regulate… G Funk Era, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and has since been certified triple platinum.
“They was saying, ‘Snoop said he wrote your whole album!’ A gang of muthafuckas hit me, so I’m like, ‘What?!’” he said. “I see the interview and it was like, he did say it. So I hit him like, ‘Look, whatchu mean you wrote my whole album? Come on, Snoop. That ain’t how we get down, cuz.’
“I approached it and he corrected it, but then I did another interview and I told the people I’m never gonna let this music shit come between me and my homeboy. He was going through a lot, I’m not gonna sit up there and be tripping on him; he just lost his mom … But it got ironed out and you know, that’s my dawg.”
Snoop’s original comments came during an interview with The Breakfast Club last November, in which he claimed he and Kurupt lent their pen to Warren G’s album in an effort to shelter him from Suge Knight.
“We was trying to protect the homie from Suge Knight at the time,” he said. “Suge was taking everything so we wanted to make sure Warren G had a dope record without him being able to get it, so we silently, me and Kurupt and a few others, went to work for Warren G to make sure that his record could be what it was.”