Never Heard G-Funk February

The only things certain in this life anymore are death, taxes, and us forcing Jimmy and Meghan to give their thoughts on albums from a select genre each month. Here’s their take on G-Funk! As always, let’s meet our contestants.

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Meghan Klassen is 23 years old, with almost none of the wisdom that comes with it. She enjoys ugly dogs, tragic war romances, and oil-barrel-sized servings of Coca-Cola. 

never heard jimmy picture

Jimmy Evans likes liking stuff and thinks you should, too. He writes movies, books, bad tweets, and never fortune cookies.

Editor’s Note: We normally format our never heard series with a little back and forth between Meghan and Jimmy, but we switched it up this month to present Jimmy’s article, followed by Meghan’s article back-to-back. 

Jimmy’s Take

Me, Age 14:

Ah, G-Funk, my old friend. The best the West has to offer in the battle between the coasts. Although I personally fall firmly onto the side of our Atlantic brothers in the who’s-dopest debate, I have a terrible soft spot for the LA equation thanks to the D-R-E for getting me in the game in the first place. Never Heard? Far from it! Listening to this music felt like coming home. It’s the sound of my late nights on the mean streets of suburban Orange County, rolling out with the homies (I walked, they skateboarded) to split a Little Caesar’s pizza and talk about Halo until the early morn, contemplating the meaning of C.R.E.A.M.

Me, Now:

Here’s the real story about how I discovered hip hop: I’m a twig-limbed, ginger-haired, pimply freshman in high school walking past the football locker when I hear “The Next Episode” playing inside. I stop. I rock my head. I look at the giant senior Samoan dude leaning by the entrance staring people down and bumping slightly to the music and I ask him, sincerely, “Is this from Kangaroo Jack?”

My name is Jimmy Evans and I was once a nerdy white boy with too many opinions on “real” hip hop. I am using this month’s Never Heard to atone for my sins. Join me.

never heard regulate

Warren G – REGULATE…G FUNK ERA

Me, Age 14:

Regulators, mount up, indeed! I’ve never said this out loud but I’ve always wanted to. The boom-bap energy and the funky smoothness of the production are undeniable, but it all gets old before the end of the album. I think I’ll just stick to the first song.

Me, Now:

There’s a cool night-day type transition that seems to take place over the course of the album, but overall Warren G doesn’t make much of a rap impression, drowned out by his features. Every song starts to feel the same. I get that the G-Funk sound has some kind of origin here, but being first doesn’t mean best. 14-year-old me has definitely yelled, “Regulators, mount up!” before ‒ that lying turd. 5th Place.

 

never heard dogg food

Tha Dogg Pound – DOGG FOOD

Me, Age 14:

Who are these guys? This is sick! Those flows! Those beats! Wow!

Me, Now:

This album is very hard to enjoy if you’re paying close attention at all. It’s got bounce and smoothness and good flows, but also a grossly homophobic skit that somehow keeps popping up in the music, as well as your standard casual misogyny. The murder-talk posturing tires out before halfway into the album. G-Funk: A hundred different ways to say, “I’m hard.” 4th Place

 

never heard snoop dogg

Snoop Doggy Dogg – DOGGYSTYLE

Me, Age 14:

The Snoop D-O-Double-G is the king of a certain kind of flow. His sinister, cool, and straight-up gangsta delivery takes this album to the absolute tops. The production matches and accentuates the cold persona, the tracklist composed of party bangers and chilling murder-rap in equal measure. Overall, this album is like a wild house party that turns violent. And the W-Balls skit? LOL. So funny.

Me, Now:

14-year-old me has never been to a party. Obviously. The kid does get most of it right about the Snoop persona on the album, but the actual lyric content leaves something to be desired if you don’t enjoy listening to a guy talk about his balls all the time. Apparently the G in G-Funk stands for Gonads. 3rd Place

 

never heard the crhonic

Dr. Dre – THE CHRONIC

Me, Age 14:

As I mentioned earlier, Dr. Dre was my first introduction to the G-Funk genre and hip hop in general. While not the most impressive lyricist, his production ability is nonpareil and utterly defines the sound of the west coast. Wow! Those beats by Dre can’t be beat!

Me, Now:

THE CHRONIC has incredible production, a stacked rap deck in the over-powered duo of Dre and Snoop, and idiotically misogynist content. It’s so dumb that I’m not sure what the value of this album is anymore, other than propping up the importance of Dr. Dre so he can keep shoving his headphones down my throat. There’s an idea: Imagine every moment on the album where Dre talks about putting his dick in your mouth and replace it with the phrase sponsored by Beats by Dre, and I guess that explains it. 14-year-old me is terrified of girls and doesn’t know anything about anything. 2nd Place

 

never heard gangstas paradise

Coolio – GANGSTA’S PARADISE

Me, Age 14:

I thought “Gangsta’s Paradise” was just a song? It’s an album? What kind of name is Coolio? *snortlaughs*

Me, Now:

What’s this? A G-Funk album that’s not entirely about bitches and balls? An album about complicated human emotions? Coolio starts with a great skit that frames the entire album around a fascinating attempt to reconcile his feelings for his home. “As much as I hate this motherfucker, I love this motherfucker,” becomes the question the music attempts to answer, tackling it without any pretensions or cleverness. The subject is complex, so the style is simple, which is refreshing in the age of Rapgenius. Coolio doesn’t muddle anything in metaphors or attempt to dazzle with his flow, he just tells stories. GANGSTA’S PARADISE makes G-Funk self-aware, examining life in the ghetto and finding hope and love there rather than just violence and balls. 1st Place

 

Meghan’s Take

I have a confession to make: I am somewhat familiar with G-Funk, perhaps not in name but definitely in sound. You can’t deny the classic appeal of songs like “Gin and Juice” and “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” even though my feminist sensibilities essentially need to be chained up and thrown in the ocean every time I listen to the lyrics too hard. That being said, I’m about as qualified to talk about these artists as I am to advise on the next mission to Mars, so I welcome the opportunity to become better acquainted with their albums. I tried to open my heart and truly listen. You know, from that white female perspective they were intending to reach all along.

regulate

Warren G – REGULATE…G FUNK ERA

Super fun fact: Warren G was once the special guest at a concert I went to, and I had no idea who he was. Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to continue my sacrilegious streak by saying that I don’t find this classic to be particularly interesting; definitely not bad, certainly palatable, but just not for me. The funk is there in full force, dancing behind the track at every turn, but it is just down-tempo and depressive enough to inspire visions of cloudy days and gray sidewalks instead of urban danger. I tried to delve deeper into the lyrics to remedy my boredom, but I found the misogyny only mildly outrageous and the worldplay not particularly fun. What I was left with was a man who says his own name more than Hodor and throws out references to Long Beach like candy at a parade. Again, I must reiterate that I am not an expert, but it definitely felt like a mid-level execution of what I had already heard before. I’ll give Warren one thing: He certainly knows the key to educating his audience. With G-Funk in the album title and one track quite literally spelling out that “the definition of G-Funk is just something to like swerve/ to something to smoke herb,” I feel like the repetition may have served a greater purpose: Getting me an A on my next pop quiz. Thanks, Professor G! 1994 forever! 5th Place

 

dogg food

Tha Dogg Pound – DOGG FOOD

OK, but seriously, I’m concerned; were early 90s rappers aware that other animals existed? I mean, not everyone can pull off the Kitty Cat Crew, but certainly other appropriately “masculine” animals were up for grabs. All jokes aside, there is something charming about rap duos. It’s a friendship token from a bygone era, like matching mood rings or silk jackets. This fraternity of the streets really comes through, as there is scarcely a pause allowed between one member’s rapid-fire verse before the other launches into a continuation of the sentiment; shoutouts to Dre, praises for the Holy Church of Death Row Records, passing reflections on if being employed is gay, the usual. In true Dogg fashion, Snoop shows up for frequent guest verses that stretch out so long that I sometimes wondered if he was trying to conquer this album for himself. In fact, this album is littered with other people’s voices to the point where I’m still not 100% confident I could pick the Dogg Pound out of a lineup. This album certainly suffers from the insecurity that comes from starting out as everyone else’s backing vocals, but these faceless gents are certainly talented in and of their own right. I personally advocate that every rapper have one of his close friends sing soulfully behind his rhymes, because once I experienced that, I was fully on board with the rap team concept, even more so when I heard “Have you ever had some bomb ass pussy?” sung as a chorus. In terms of delivering filth with a smile, teamwork really is the path to success. 4th Place

 

snoop dogg

Snoop Doggy Dogg – DOGGYSTYLE

One thing is absolutely certain: Snoop loves a good theme, and will stick to it with a commitment and reverence he shares with absolutely none of his hoes. As silly as the Snoop Dogg persona appears to be after all these years, I have nothing but respect for a man that unironically calls out people for being “mutts” and makes multiple references to the “Pound.” With funky electro beats that regularly tread into extraterrestrial territory and prolonged track intros that sound like radio broadcasts from Long Beach Gangsterpiece Theater, I regularly wanted to write off each track as ridiculous within the first minute. However, there is something oddly charming about the way Snoop coasts through each verse, his rolling flow bringing to mind an image of our humble host cruising in the SoCal sun while smoking the fattest blunt possible. (Granted, that has 100% definitely happened.) But just as I thought I knew his style, some tracks would hit me with rhymes hard, fast, and passionate that put me in my place and clued me in to how this man managed to rise through the ranks in the rap scene. For an album that manages to be completely outlandish, I can’t deny that I had a fun time. Would definitely play at my next 90’s pool party. 3rd Place

 

the crhonic

Dr. Dre – THE CHRONIC

Who hurt you, Dre? (Just kidding, we’ve all seen STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON.) We all know Dr. Dre is the producer mastermind, the Mark Zuckerberg of the 90s rap scene with only slightly more atrocious behavior towards his peers. Naturally, his legend lives on today in the form of colorful headphones. So why is it goddamn impossible to find this particular album in its entirety online? After searching through a YouTube graveyard of videos seized due to copyright, I finally managed to cobble this album together. Thankfully, I think it was worth the effort. With his deep commanding voice and aggressive callouts, it is easy to see why Dre is the patriarch of this fucked up fam. Even at his most bitter, his tracks are still an easy pill to swallow. Whereas other G-Funk artists rely on a single constant melody or a never-ending barrage of rhymes to get the job done, the production of each track, here, takes advantage of silences to inject a new sound or a soulful refrain, creating a changing sound that is never overwhelming. This album is a fluid machine of hits that scares me, not only for the strength of his anger, but also for the hours he must have poured into it to produce such slickness. After listening, one thing is crystal clear to me now: Don’t fuck with Dre. Because he will mow your ass down with speed, precision, and, inevitably, a bangin’ beat featuring all your close friends. A lyrical gangbang, indeed. 2nd Place

 

gangstas paradise

Coolio – GANGSTA’S PARADISE

Oh, Coolio. Who knew there was a sensitive intellectual hiding underneath those spider dreads? For all the shit I talk about rap skits, there is no denying that there is an undercurrent of political brilliance in this album, perhaps stated most simply in this little vignette from the intro track: “I hate this motherfucker, but I love this motherfucker.” The slick production value and laid back tempo has all the sensuality of another braggadocio rap album about picking up bitches, but Coolio just wants to wax poetic about his love/hate relationship with the hood and problems surrounding the gangster lifestyle. I even thought I heard a line here and there about practicing safe sex, which honestly both brings a tear of joy to my eye and makes me want to travel back in time to write an AP English essay about it. Most surprising of all is this album’s informed appreciation of women, whether using female artists to slay the odd verse or treating them as thinking human beings rather than shallow sexual conquests. He has a song called “For My Sistas,” for Christ’s sake! Celebrating young black women! IS MODERN HIP HOP EVEN LISTENING?! My instinctual bend toward snark is tempted by the gospel choir campiness of the titular track, but my heart is not in it. Coolio has broken me. 1st Place

 

Crossfader Staff

The good people of Crossfader Magazine.

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