It was a clear black night, a clear white moon,
Warren G was on the streets, tryin' to consume
Some skirts for the eve so I can get some funk,
Just rollin' in my ride, chillin' all alone...
"Regulate" is a song performed and produced by Warren G, and featuring Nate Dogg. It was released in 1994 on the eponymous Warren G album, and was originally featured in the 1994 sports-drama Above the Rim. "Regulate" became a remarkably popular song upon its release, the single having gone Platinum, and having been nominated for both an MTV Movie Award for Best Movie Song in 1995 and a Grammy Award for the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in the same year.
"Regulate" is widely considered one of the first chart-topping smash-hits in the genre of Gangsta Funk -- G-Funk. Combining the lyrical elements of Gansta Rap, a genre that itself was on the rise at "Regulate"'s release, with a low-tempo funk track, "Regulate" is a manifesto of the LBC gang philosophy that gang involvement is reprehensible and ugly, but that it is, for some, an inescapable reality that has to be dealt with practically. Before Warren G, groups like N.W.A. and individuals like Ice T glorified the admittedly fearsome street cultures of South-Central Los Angeles and Compton with tales of thuggish homicide, drug dealing and extortion. "Regulate" took gang violence, and encapsulated it in a story of two friends seeking each other to go on the prowl for girls together.
They got my homey hemmed up, and they all around,
Ain't none of them seein' if they can go straight pound for pound;
I gotta come up real quick before they start to clown,
I best pull out my strap, and lay them bustas down.
As "Regulate" is a narrative rap, I will summarize its plot, so that you might understand my case better. At the beginning of the song, Warren G is walking the streets of Long Beach looking for girls. Concurrently, Nate Dogg is driving in search of Warren. Warren turns a corner ("So I hooks a left on the two-one and Lewis") to see some unsavory characters shooting craps. When he tries to join the game, they pull their guns and mug him, taking his jewelery. Before they can actually deal any physical damage to Warren, Nate Dogg, who happens to be driving nearby, is noticed by some "hookers" in their own car, who crash beside the mugging as a result of being distracted by Nate's showy driving ("Since these girls peepin' me, I'ma' glide and swerve,/These hookers lookin so hard, they straight hit the curb"). Nate Dogg sees Warren getting mugged, pulls his gun, and kills the muggers before they can hurt his friend. They then ride off in Nate's car, with the girls (whose car broke down from hitting the curb?), in the direction of the "East Side Motel". Now, of course, if you aren't into G-Funk, or rap in general, this plot sounds absolutely ridiculous. But take a few mental notes: The protagonists of "Regulate" aren't robbers; they aren't cop-killers; they aren't drug dealers. They're just two guys, looking for girls, only ONE OF WHOM carries a gun, and, as we can see, entirely for protection. As someone inured to the hateful violence of Gangsta Rap, these details really deflated my general prejudice against gang violence in music; I mean, Warren G and Nate Dogg are supposed to be the innocents here!
Sixteen in the clip, and one in the hole,
Nate Dogg 'bout to make some bodies turn cold;
They droppin' and yellin' -- it's a tad bit late --
Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate.
In the context of this song, the term "regulate" means to take the justice into one's own hands; to break the law in recompense for the unfair treatment of a friend. The word denotes bringing something to its original condition from an unnatural state, and applies itself here with the destruction of social lechers for the peace that society presumes in residential life. To regulate is to forget society, and serve up a steaming plate of fair; I like Warren G's "Regulate" because it's bad-assed without being malicious or terrible. I recommend you give it a listen.