Warren G 

Return of the Regulator (Universal)

Though remembered mostly for his breakout 1994 single "Regulate," Warren G followed up with three solo LPs, all of which went platinum or better. He's also laced tracks for the likes of Tupac and Tha Eastsidaz, in addition to fostering new talent and working in movies and television. Now on his fourth album, the LBC producer/emcee stays true to the game, crafting ear-tickling G-Funk melodies and keyboard-heavy Westside anthems.

On the lead single "Lookin at You," he gives it up for the ladies over a heavy beat, thick pianos, and meandering synths laid down by Dr. Dre. Haters and trash-talkers get addressed on "Somethin' to Bounce To," which also features Golden State beatmaker Soopafly on the mike. The bell-laden beat and squealing keyboards are ideal for a slow, smoky ride in the biggest sedan possible. Other addictive tracks include the freak-fest "It Ain't Nothin' Wrong Wit You" (with Mista Grimm, Boss Hog, and Damone), and the booming bass of "G-Funk Is Here 2 Stay."

With most mainstream Cali rap continuing to big up the gangsta lifestyle, "Young Locs Slow Down" is a refreshing warning to wannabe Gs, as Warren, W.C., and Butch Cassidy speak out against senseless murder and criminal-minded peer pressure. The original Long Beach supergroup 213 (Warren, Nate Dogg, and Snoop) throw down a serious winner with "Yo Sassy Ways," a deliciously mellow head-nodder set to dreamy keys, plump basslines, and wah-wah guitars.

While some skeptics may question the validity of G-Funk in the 21st century, Warren continues to bless heads with an array of unquestionably nice grooves. The live instrumentation and bottom-heavy tracks are as smooth as ever, and the extensive guest list (which also includes George Clinton, Kokane, and El Debarge) only adds to the party. Not a record that's going to revolutionize the rap game, but high-quality bumps from an underappreciated maestro.

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