2014 marks a significant time to review hip-hop history. Not only does it mark the 20-year collaborative anniversary of the southern duo Outkast and the Queens rapper Nas debut album Illmatic, but it also represents some of the best West Coast songs that still rings a bell 20 years later. The top three LA hip-hop singles of 1994 are: “Regulate” by Warren G ft. Nate Dogg, “Back in the Day” by Ahmad Lewis, and “How Long Will They Mourn Me” by Thug Life ft. Nate Dogg.
Produced by Warren G with the 1982 sample of Michael McDonald’s, “I Keep Forgettin’,” Regulate tells of a rendezvous tale between Warren G and Nate Dogg. Plan to meet up, hang out, and pick up honeys, the night soon turns into a twist neither expects. Set in Long Beach, California, Warren G goes to seek girls for fun; and while in a G-funk mood, he unexpectedly comes to a dice game and gets jacked for his belongings. Thinking of his unfortunate circumstances, he wildly wonders about his fate.
Meanwhile, Nate Dogg is searching for Warren G but then notice some women eyeing his way. Not one to get distracted, he soon finds Warren G, but in a bind. Nate Dogg becomes the hero when he saves Warren G from tragedy. Transforming from gangsta mindset to gangsta groove, Nate Dogg stashes his gun and prepares for a night of excitement and girls with his homie Warren G.
“Back in the Day” relives a time period in Ahmad’s life when he is carefree and boyish. He remembers when he was 10 years old, a moment of newfound enjoyment for girls and wanting to be like his older brother. In South Central, LA, style is everything.
As he grows older, Ahmad reflects on the popular clothing and shoe apparel. He references hip-hop culture and its influence on his young environment. Fast-forward to the present and now 18 year old Ahmad wishes for simpler times. He is “all grown up” and with responsibilities. Although his childhood dream comes true, he still reminisces on his childhood reality.
Sadly, the last song on this list is still much of a reality. “How Long Will They Mourn Me” is a tribute written by 2Pac in memory of his friend Kato. The song features Thug Life who raps with sadness and emotional cadences about losing a comrade while Nate Dogg serenades with regretful wishes and rhetoric questions. A harsh and violent reflection, the song brings to forefront Black-on-Black crime and its nihilistic cycle.