The song “Regulate” by rappers Warren G and Nate Dogg is a pure adolescent male fantasy. Cruising the town without a real agenda, meeting some hot women, intimidating some obvious bad men, then taking the girls to a sleazy motel for a party that would entail what Judge Mathis frequently sarcastically labels “Bible study.”
In 1994, as a senior in high school, I could share that sort of fantasy. Even if I didn’t much care for rap. But that was a rare gem among rap music, earning two Grammy nominations in 1995.
One lyric from the song always amused me. “Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate.” Had to, Nate raps. As in, “there was no other way, we had to ‘regulate.'” Of course, in this song, as the introductory spoken words indicate, “regulate” is code for killing people.
At first blush, it might be self defense. After all, Warren G rapped just moments ago “They got guns to my head / I think I’m going down.” These thugs just relieved him of his “wealth:” “They took my rings / They took my Rolex / I looked at the brotha said, ‘Damn, what’s next?'”
Clearly, they outnumber Warren. Nate says, “They got my homey hemmed up and they all around.” We can see what the intent of these thugs happens to be. They took a lot of jewelry and an expensive watch. They don’t want witnesses, so Warren is about to get lead poisoning.
The problem is that the legal standard for self defense is to only use what force is necessary to stop the attack. After Nate appears with his gun drawn, that is so intimidating that a gang of thugs armed with guns of their own hadto flee (see what I mean about the adolescent fantasy?). Nate says, “Now they dropping and yelling / It’s a tad bit late / Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate.” It is reasonable to assume that they are running away at this point.
It is only after this gang of toughs attempt flee the scene that Nate Dogg opens fire and “lay[s] them bustas down.” It stopped being a self defense situation when the thugs ran away with tails between legs. This means that Nate Dogg and Warren G just described a clear-cut homicide. In a Grammy-nominated song that went to number 2 on the U.S. music charts, #22 on the end of the year Billboard chart, and was rated #98 on VH1’s Top 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs.
So far as I can tell, I’m the first to raise this issue and the song’s been out for sixteen years. This is proof of both the declining moral situation in the United States (which is a subject best left for Josiah Concept Ministries), and of the fact that no one really listens to song lyrics.