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G-Funk - Film Review (American Essentials Film Festival 2017)

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by Kitty Goodall (subscribe)
I love the arts and creativity. My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for film, theatre, comedy and improv shows. Now I'm a professional creative content producer, mostly on digital platforms.
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How Three Friends Changed Hip Hop Forever
warren, g, funk, kurupt, rap, hip, hop, music, movie
(L-R) Kurupt and Warren G performing together. By Connie Lodge - Warren G and Kurupt, CC BY-SA 2.0

If you've ever grooved to the sounds of Snoop Dogg or Warren G and Nate Dogg, then you've enjoyed some G-Funk. You wouldn't be alone in your enjoyment. As the documentary, G Funk reveals, the mash-up of gangsta rap and funk is credited with taking hip hop from a $600 million industry in 1990 to a $10 billion-plus industry today!

A fascinating documentary, G Funk is written and produced by a pioneer of the genre, Warren G. It's soon to be playing as part of the American Essentials Film Festival in selected capital cities. Fans of hip-hop and music in general are sure to enjoy the story which is told through interviews and stock footage of the major players in the scene. Naturally you can expect a great hip hop and funk soundtrack throughout the film too.

Skip to about halfway through to see Warren G talk about Growing up with Dre and Snoop.

A Who's Who of Hip Hop.

Warren G has assembled some of the biggest names in hip-hop to give their own perspective on how iconic records were made amid shady deals, backstabbing and threats. Interviewees include Warren G, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Chuck D, Ice Cube, Ice-T, Andre 'La Dre' Bolton, Too $hort, Daz Dillinger, George Clinton, Russell Simmons, The D.O.C., Deion Sanders, Big Boy, Paul Stewart, DJ Premier, Chingi and Wiz Kalifa.

There's also a raft of stock interview footage including Dr Dre who is notably absent from the current day interviewees. Once you learn the story of G-Funk, you tend to understand why.

snoop, dogg, hip, hop, rap, mc, g, funk, music, movie
Snoop Dogg is one of the pioneers of G Funk. By tkaravou from Montreal, Canada - Snoop DoggUploaded by Montrealaholic, CC BY 2.0

The Story of G-Funk

Childhood friends Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Nate Dogg, inspired by the change in music in the late 1970s that led to early hip hop, would battle rap at school for fun. Warren G was the hype man and budding DJ, Snoop would improvise raps and Nate provided melodies. By 1986, the trio that would be known as 213 (for the LA postcode in which they lived), were jamming together.

Little known fact, when Warren's dad remarried, none other than Dr Dre became Warren's big step-brother. Dre was producing World Class Wreckin' Cru and then formed the controversial NWA. Perhaps it was because Dr Dre was six years older than Warren or maybe it was sibling rivalry, but Dre was pretty dismissive of 213. So were the long list of record companies and producers the lads approached trying to get a deal.

As so many people in need of money and with limited options for earning did in the late 80s, they turned to selling drugs. After some time, Warren G convinced Snoop if they went straight they'd be blessed. Not long after, Warren had the chance to play a 213 demo at a party Dre was attending and before they knew it 213 found themselves in the studio working with Dr Dre on the album that would become The Chronic.

Snoop Dogg said, "He (Dr Dre) had an ability to make you great - to shine you up."

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Nate Dogg added beautiful melodies to G Funk. By Transformer123456 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

While Snoop ultimately benefited, what followed was a series of bad deals and betrayals, mostly spearheaded by notorious gangster Suge Knight. It's a familiar story in music. Warren G wasn't signed to Deathrow records while Snoop Dogg was, despite Warren's large input on Dre's album The Chronic. Warren was obviously saddened and felt Dre could have argued his case harder to Suge. It wasn't until some time later Warren G was finally signed by Def Jam records, one of the East Coast labels Suge Knight loathed.

The Chronic was a massive hit and introduced a whole new fan base to Snoop Dogg. It was the perfect platform from which to launch Snoop's debut solo album Doggystyle which was the first album in the G-Funk genre. Suddenly the West Coast style of hip hop became popular everywhere - even on the East Coast. It sold 806,000 copies in its first week. These days it has sold over 11 million copies worldwide.

"As real as I was," said Snoop, somewhat surprised, "As gangsta as I was, white America accepted it faster than black America."

Ice T said, "Snoop had an original flow, an original cadence and an original look."

Seven months later, Warren G's first album, Regulate... G Funk Era dropped and ended up going triple platinum. In a move that was a surprising unity of West and East coast, the single Regulate appeared on the Above the Rim soundtrack, which was released by Def Jam rivals Deathrow. Not only that, it featured Nate Dogg, who at the time was still signed to Deathrow.

This did not go down well with Suge Knight. In the documentary, The D.O.C. suggests Suge was sore that he missed the chance to sign Warren G and was always trying to find a way to make money out of him. Suge's anger over the collaboration of Nate and Warren on Regulate had them so rattled they employed extra security when performing at the Billboard awards.

Some Examples of G-Funk from the Three Pioneers of the Genre

There's a lot more to the story of course. G Funk reveals a little insight into the rivalries between Suge Knight and Puffy, the deaths of Tu Pac and The Notorious B.I.G., and the exodus of Snoop, Dre and Nate from Deathrow. Even if you're not a huge hip hop fan, you're still likely to find the story engaging.

People who love credits will be rewarded for staying until the end with a few bonus vox pops from famous hip hop artists. All of them agree G-Funk was a game-changer, a huge influence and the most popular strand of hip hop music. It didn't just unite funk and hip hop, it united East and West coast rappers, black and white music fans and rival artists from rival labels.

Three childhood friends grew up, followed their dreams and achieved so very much. G Funk changed hip hop dramatically and forever. Those three friends brought an underground movement into the mainstream. Now corporations use hip hop to sell products. The music is found in movies, video games and adverts. While Nate Dogg passed away in 2011 (the film is dedicated to him) Snoop and Warren continue to make music and attract millions of fans worldwide to this day.

Warren said, of working with Snoop and Nate in the early days, "Music, family and just friends. That's what it was."

rip, nate, dogg, music, rap, hip, hop, g, funk
Nate Dogg died at the age of 41 from complications arising from multiple strokes. By Mateusz Opasiński - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
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Why? Put Some Fun in Your Funk
When: 9-28 May 2017
Where: Selected Cinemas in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Canberra
Cost: $10 - $19.50
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