Nate at his favorite McDonald's with his favorite Jeep and his favorite girl, holding his favorite picture of the old 213 days. Photos by RJ Shaughnessy
Ten years after its release, it's time to officially recognize Warren G's "Regulate" as hands-down one of the finest moments in music history. Of course, what made the song wasn't Warren's simple rhymes but the straight-faced tenor crooning of OG Nate Dogg. And although he delivered stellar performances on The Chronic and Doggystyle, it was the unforgettable verses on "Regulate" that crystalized Nate's status as, well, the only R&B ballad singer with balls.
Now if you're anything like a normal person, you spent the entire G-funk era walking around with a Compton hat, oblivious to the fact that without the city they call Long Beach, C-o-m-p-t-o-n wouldn't have put the shit together. You see, while CPT's NWA was traumatizing America's youth, three Long Beach adolescents were recording the most classic West Coast material that never came out. The group was 213 and it was composed of Snoop, Warren, and Nate. Since then, Snoop's become the new George Clinton, Nate's sung the chorus on just about every hit on radio, and Warren, well, who knows what he's been up to since "Regulate." But the good news is, 213's finally releasing a record.
So let's hit the east side of the LBC on a mission trying to find Nate Dogg's key 213 spots (Eastside Motel not included).
V.I.P. Records, 1014 East Pacific Coast Highway
"V.I.P. was the No. 1 record store, and it's still here, right in the middle of Long Beach. That was the hang-out spot, with a high school right across the street. Back then there was a little studio in the back, and that's where we recorded the first 213 song. I think it was called ‘Long Beach Is a Motherfucker.' It had me and Snoop on it, with Warren mixing and scratching, trying to be a DJ. We was just making music for ourselves, just to hear ourselves on tape. Our influences were LL, DMC, Special Ed. NWA came out a little later, after Dre and the Wrecking Cru put it down. Years later, when I finally met Dre, I was starstruck. I couldn't believe I was going to work with him. He told Snoop he wanted him to rap for his record label, and when he offered me a deal too, I was like ‘Hell yeah, you're motherfucking Dr. Dre!'"
Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 1950 Lemon Avenue
"I don't even remember what's the address for this, but I know how to take you there. It's less than a mile from the record store. As youngsters, we hung out there a whole lot during the summer. We'd go to the pool, play ball, rhyme—we was doing it in the ghetto. There was always older cats and you could get beat up. It's still the same attitude today. I visit a lot and nothing's really changed. You got your knuckleheads and you got your peaceful dudes. The plaid shirts is out, but I still got a couple of partners with curls. They should've cut them off when Kurtis Blow did."
Long Beach Polytechnic High School, 1600 Atlantic Avenue
"This is where 213 was born. Snoop also went to school there. I'm two years older than him, but we still had a couple of classes together. Warren, he went to Jordan––that's where all the nerds go. Actually, I met Snoop through church when we was like 13 or 14. You know, they had them little church picnics and basketball games, and that's where I got to know him. I remember him as being a real cool dude who was always trying to out-freestyle everybody. I just did what I did: I started writing raps but I sung them instead because I was in the choir."
East 61st Street & Linden Avenue
"This is where Snoop used to live, and we got into a bunch of trouble over drugs on that street. Thirty days after high-school graduation I went straight into the Marines. When I got out, I came home, but I didn't want to be no damn police, so my mom was like, "You grown, you got to leave." Both Snoop's and my mommas kicked us out. If they hadn't, we'd probably still be staying over there. You know how it is: When you got a couch, there's no need to look for a couch. I remember we ended up staying in hotels, but that's what forced us to focus on our music. The crime was just to get by on a day-to-day. We'd make $100, spend $75, and put the rest towards music. Once we got our record deals, all that criminal shit was out the door."
2022 Lime Avenue
"That's my grandmomma's house, on the east side of Long Beach. As a matter of fact, she just left there yesterday, but she lived there a long life. A preacher lived next door, and a killer on the other side. I used to go there every summer, and then I moved in when I was 14. This is where all the early 213 stuff was written. My family don't listen to R&B––never have, never will. They only listen to gospel. That's where I get my voice from, I got a gospel voice. Meanwhile, my idols were Marvin, Stevie, Maurice White from Earth, Wind & Fire, but I was also into Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now"—I listened to it all. I remember sitting up in my room, writing melodies. I didn't know nothing. I was on some New Edition shit. The first song I wrote was called ‘Baby Darling Darling Girl,' and you know what's funny? It went, ‘Baby darling darling girl, I really love your Jheri Curl.' I thought it was tight as hell."
213's album The Hard Way is in stores now. Nate Dogg's new solo album is almost done too.