Subgenres like G-Funk represernt a compelling and exciting phenomena; we usually never realise how powerful these small shoot-offs can become. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, intriguing things were happening in Los Angeles. Gangsta rap had significantly impacted the US, and LA had become a certified source of quality hip-hop. However, with songs such as ‘No Vaseline’ on the airwaves as N.W.A. dissipated, many thought it was the end of the road for California. However, it had only just begun.
As the formidable gangsta rap collective slowly but shortly dispersed, leaving Eazy-E alone, super-producer Dr Dre (real name Andre Young) was making savvy business moves behind the scenes to ensure he could enter the next decade with ease on his own terms. Forming Death Row Records alongside the infamous Suge Knight, Dre landed himself a studio and began working on music immediately following his breakaway from Jerry Heller in 1991.
Recruiting young talent from South Central LA, Young began building an empire and making music alongside his cousin Warren G and many others. Having already made pretty funky songs with N.W.A., such as ‘The Dope Man’, Young began experimenting with P-Funk, in particular the works of George Clinton. By sampling P-Funk and slowing it down, the beatmaker found he could create this fantastic sound. As he churned out more and more of it, he realised it was a winning formula.
With rappers and collectives such as Kurupt, Daz Dillinger, Tha Dogg Pound, Snoop Dogg and 2pac gracing his beats, before long, people identified this sound as “Gangster funk”, and soon after (due to its relation to P-funk) fans began calling it G-funk and Dr Dre was the brains behind the sound. Having dissected and analysed this subgenre, we have picked out what we believe to be the five best G-funk albums of all time.
The five greatest G-Funk albums of all time:
5. Snoop Dogg – Tha Last Meal (2000)
This 2000 album by Snoop Dogg was his first project not released through Death Row Records. Following his label transition at the turn of the millennium, Snoop set up his label Doggystyle Recordings, through which most of his material was released in the 2000s. Maintaining a G-funk-infused sound, Broadus called upon Dr Dre concerning production. However, having evolved since 1993, he also called upon other producers, such as Scott Storch and Timbaland, to add variety and show his versatility.
Although the project was still true to the Snoop Dogg sound, the album only debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 and just managed to clinch a platinum certification. However, at this point in his career, the Long Beach rapper was plotting a crucial pivot in his sound and aesthetic to detach himself from Death Row. Following Tha Last Meal, Broadus would begin collaborating with the Neptunes, completely uprooting and reviving his career.
4. Dr Dre – 2001 (1999)
Dr Dre’s 2001 (also known as The Chronic 2001) is a legendary album and is considered a classic. Released in 1999 as the follow-up to Dre’s 1992 debut project, 2001 marked the producer’s comeback and solidified his legitimacy as an emcee after a lengthy hiatus. As Dre’s first release through Aftermath, it also marked a fresh beginning for the music mogul following the painful East Coast versus West Coast feud that marred Death Row Records during the 1990s.
Tracks like ‘Light Speed’ featuring Hittman and ‘Some LA N*ggaz’ featuring Hittman, Ms. Roq, Knoc-Turn’al and Time Bomb are classic G-funk tracks that hail back to when Young released The Chronic. The sensational body of work by Dre debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and has since been certified six times platinum by the RIAA. The album’s lead single ‘Still D.R.E’ has accumulated over one billion streams on Spotify and the track’s video has been viewed over one billion times on YouTube.
3. Snoop Dogg – Tha Doggfather (1996)
Tha Doggfather was Broadus’ second album. Having already made one legendary project three years prior, Snoop was undoubtedly under a lot of pressure to deliver again with his sophomore body of work. However, for Tha Doggfather, the Long Beach musician didn’t have the weapon that is Dr Dre behind the scenes. Recorded and produced in 1996, Tha Doggfather was assembled while the G-funk pioneer closed deals with Jimmy Iovine for Aftermath Entertainment. That said, Snoop relied heavily on Daz Dillinger, who executively produced the body of work.
Unsurprisingly, with the help and production of Daz Dillinger and other Death Row affiliates such as DJ Pooh, Soopafly and Warren G, Tha Doggfather debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The album’s lead single, ‘Snoop’s Upside Ya Head’, was released the day after 2pac was murdered and didn’t enter the Billboard Hot 100. However, it was far more successful abroad and debuted at number 12 on the UK Singles Chart. The album was certified double-platinum by the RIAA.
2. Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle (1993)
Doggystyle is right up there with The Chronic in its legendary status, especially concerning G-funk. The 1993 album saw Dr Dre pick up exactly where he left off with his production. Borrowing heavily from George Clinton and the P-funk subgenre, Doggystyle is a funky project, yet it is sonically extremely menacing with aggressive undertones. Snoop’s delivery, intonations and tone suit the project perfectly, and one can tell the album was a joint effort as it is incredibly cohesive.
In a 1994 interview about the album, Snoop explained, “It is about what I grew up with, what I been through, what goes on today. It’s just everyday life, if it didn’t happen, I couldn’t make money off it. If this sh*t didn’t occur, there wouldn’t be no people buyin’ it.” The album is dark in places, but akin to Eminem, Snoop is able to add levity to offset the darker side of his project.
Snoop released a lot of music with Dre on Death Row Records. Snoop Dogg was a young Long Beach gang member who, under the wing of Dr Dre, blossomed into a thriving businessman. As the current owner of Death Row, Snoop Dogg has come full circle in his career and now holds the keys to the label that made him.
1. Dr Dre – The Chronic (1992)
The Chronic is indisputably the greatest and most legendary G-funk album of all time. This is because it effectively birthed the genre. Although Dr Dre had produced certain songs for N.W.A that some might call G-funk, nothing can compare to the production of The Chronic.
Dr Dre’s Death Row empire was built upon The Chronic. As its first official release, the project set a blueprint for later releases such as All Eyez On Me and Tha Doggfather. It is irrefutable that Dr Dre and his cousin Warren G were responsible for its rapid rise to success as these were the two figures spearheading the movement concerning production.
The Chronic boasts ‘Nuthin But A G Thang’, widely considered the first G-funk song ever released. It also shone a light on Snoop Dogg and allowed him to carry the sound forward with his own projects. Following the album’s release, producers all over the US were trying to emulate Dre’s sound. However, no one has ever forgotten its origins which is why the Library of Congress selected the album for preservation in the National Recording Registry. Dr Dre and Warren G are undoubtedly two of the most prominent figures with regard to the spearheading of G-Funk as a genre. However, Dr Dre is considered the sole pioneer of G-Funk as he is the figure that managed to get it in front of the masses.