Warren G, G Funk and Tha Twinz

Classic 1995 interview
Warren G, G Funk and Tha Twinz
For those of you still at playgroup or primary in 1992, G Funk was part of the Long Beach artistic phenomenon to break out of the West Coast. It diversified, enriched and opened up hip hop and soul music to a whole new generation and level. It brought its influences from the oldies habitually listened to by gangsters, gospel harmonies and melodies reminiscent of The Temptations, The Enchantments but reconstructed these to form new grooves which appealed to a younger generation and audiences with no experience or penchant for gangster life. Its influences strongly permeate twenty first century hip hop.

Warren G, one of the three founding members of the legendary 213 trio to break out of Long Beach (the other two being Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg), did not sign to Death Row Records, preferring instead to pursue a solo career with Def Jam in the early 90s. His debut album ‘Regulate…G Funk Era’ was hugely successful and became a soundtrack for the burst of West Coast flava on the music scene. He also contributed to stepbrother’s Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ and remained running mates with Snoop and the Death Row crew, producing tracks for ‘Above The Rim’ and other compilations. He brought out some of his own fellow musicians, Tha Twinz, who released their debut album in 1995 on Def Jam: ‘Conversation’. Since then, they have continued to work with Warren, Snoop and other Long Beach projects. Their last studio production was in 2009: ‘Snoop Dogg Presentz Tha Twinz – Tha Loccs.’

Sixteen years ago, I spoke to them about their debut album, ‘Conversation'.

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‘We don’t even consider it rap – just conversation,’ announces Dewayne (or rather ‘Wayniac’) Williams, one half of Tha Twinz.

The topic of that conversation is basically how they’re living in Long Beach. Born and raised in East LBC’s Polu Apartments with their mother and sister, Dio (‘Trip Locc’) - the other twin –says: ‘Everything was about chillin’, trying to live life to the fullest. We weren’t with all that gang violence. It was around us. We had family and friends who were involved and we’ve been shot at. But that’s not us.’ They also went to school and played sports with Snoop, Nate Dogg and Warren G. Says Warren: ‘It’s not even like a friendship between Dewayne, Dion and me. From about age seven until now, we’ve always hung together 24-7. They’re more like brothers.’

When Warren got his deal, he asked his homies to help out on ‘Regulate…’ Busting together and separately on several tracks, Tha Twinz immediately sparked some healthy label offers but chose to join the RAL family due to its long history in the rap game as well as Warren’s connection.

The album shows an incredible variety for a debut. Production comes from Warren G, Priest, Daz and Dr. Dre. Tracks to definitely look out fo are the ragga dangerous cut ‘4Eyes 2 Heads’ and ‘First Round Draft Pick’ with lighter grooves coming in ‘Jump To this’ and ‘Hollywood’ featuring The Five Footers. Tha Twinz’ aim is to make music like the stuff which inspired them: Marvin Gaye, the OJs, The Enchantments...

‘Those songs relax you, get all your stress out. That’s why we make our beats so smooth, like the old, tight stuff. We’re not with all this wicked hardcore shit.’

‘It’s what we do on a daily basis,’ Dion says. ‘That’s what we really wanted to bring to the album. It wasn’t necessary to focus on the violent aspects but we wanted to mention them. We’re in the ghetto struggling but we still have fun. We wanted to show the good parts of where we live. It ain’t all bad. It’s what you make it.’

Trip Locc: ‘My main musical influences were Run DMC and RAkim and all the oldies and ‘70s stuff my mum used to listen to. I used to rap all through Junior High School. During our lunch breaks, we’d stop in the hallways. Every period we’d write a little something. Someone would beatbox, usually Radio. He used to do our beatboxing. I wrote my first rap when I was eleven – about being a mack!’

Wayniac: ‘We used to rap back in the days then. Trip Locc joined the Navy for three years. I was in another group while he was in the service. I worked at a Greyhound station. With the other group, we’d be doing shows at The Roxy while my brother was gone and then when he came back, we got together. Cuz as Tha Twinz we knew we’d be more marketable. We got the name ‘Conversation’ for the album cuz that’s what we’re doing. We conversate. That’s my rap on a daily basis. Now we just did our normal conversation, just how we are day to day. We’re rhyming at the same time.’

When I ask if, as twins, they have even greater telepathic skills than most fellow rappers-in-a-cipher have, Wayniac says: ‘Sometimes we do, yeah, sometimes we do both just know. Be thinking the same. But we have separate personalities and that comes out too. For us, the most important side is the business side of the group. If you are not on top of your business, it won’t work. We stay on top of our business.

‘We’ve known Warren for so long, since we were seven, so it was just a natural thing, hooking up with him for production. We hooked up with Priest through Warren and Tha Dogg Pound. He wanted to do a track with us, he already had the beat for ‘4Eyes 2 Heads’. We also got tracks with Daz and Dre – you know, keep it in the family. We all grew up together and met Dre when he signed Snoop.’

Regarding the pressure of becoming celebrities and if it was worse than the pressure of surviving in the ghetto, their outlook is straightforward:
‘Well, we are about to become celebrities, but that’s not how we see it. We’re just trying to be businessmen. We are gonna sign autographs, have celbrity status but we just down-to-earth, same as we’ve ever been. The only difference is the money! It’s a job. People think just cuz you’re a public figure and making money that you’re Hollywood. But that’s not it. We’re businessmen. Nothing else has changed about us and our lives. When we got our song on Warren G’s album and were doing shows and tours, people said: ‘Y’all Hollywood now’ cuz we were making money but we were doing this back in the day when we weren’t making money.

‘We try to avoid violence cuz we’re about money now. Everybody wants something. We try to stay away, keep it real, stay down-to-earth. Most people get money and then they change. That’s why people from the ‘hood and ghetto hate them cuz they feel like they turned their back on them. But we’re trying to solve the problem, not be the problem.

‘Travelling and touring was a great opportunity. It gave us aexposure and the chance to look at a whole new outlook of life in general, seeing things you would never see in the hood. It also keeps you focused. I have a kid. It reminds me of why I’m doing this.

‘A true friend is the one who stays down with you, no matter what. When I had no money, my real homies were supporting me or whatever. We grew up with them and nothing’s gonna change.’

Tripp Locc: ‘I went into the Navy cuz one of my homies joined in August. I joined in September cuz I had no job. I did my three years but all the time I was just chillin’, thinking about the crib. It wasn’t my style, taking orders. It wasn’t me and I didn’t want to make it no career.

‘’Draft Pick’ was written about stuff that was just going down in the ‘hood. People getting killed. I just want people to understand what really goes on. Tha Twinz’ objective is that people will notice the G funk surrounding them, have a good time with our music and, for ourselves, that we handle our own business properly. You’ve got to stay on top of your business. If you ain’t on top, you’ll go down. We got to keep it going 24 hours. We got to be making music in the studio, giving it 100% and make ourselves blow up.

‘I think the reason why Long Beach music is so popular is because the people there are very realistic and we have a very unique love of rhythm. That’s what we all grew up with and what we all did. We’re also very loyal people. I know Long Beach better than a lot of people and have a lot of friends and family there. Long Beach is for the ‘90s what Compton was for the ‘80s. It’s just a new sound people haven’t been exposed to before. People like the sound, the flow, the realism and family orientation.

‘Travel and touring gave me the motivation to show the people that we are stage performers as well as having skills on the mic. G funk is international.’

And Tha Twinz goals?

Wayniac: ‘Getitng G funk together, trying to provide for our people out here. We want everybody to be a part of this, not just black people. We’re trying to give back to the community. I’ve seen my homies, Nate Dogg, Warren and Tha Dogg Pound come out before us and they inspired me to do my best. I also want to stay down for my other homies.’
Trip Locc: ‘I just want our fans to enjoy what we’re doing and to keep supporting G Funk and the whole crew. We want to take this way to the top, be conversationalist legends, be business orientated and work for people, to develop that business mind and have money and work.’

Words by Nina Bhadreshwar

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