Return of the Regulator is Warren G's go-for-broke comeback attempt, one that looks good both on paper and in concept as well as in title. Warren has returned here to the basics and reunited with many of those who he initially began his career with, namely Dr. Dre, Nate Dogg, and Snoop Dogg. His concerted efforts, as both a rapper/vocalist and a producer/songwriter, are clearly evident. If anything, Return of the Regulator is certainly a considered album. It begins on a high note with a radio-ready Dre production, "Lookin' at You," that finds Warren dueting with Ms. Toi. The next few songs feature collaborations with many of the West Coast's most talented hired hands: Nate Dogg, Soopafly, and Butch Cassidy. George Clinton makes an appearance on "Speed Dreamin'," and Warren reunites with his old-school homies Nate Dogg and Snoop (originally a trio known as 213) on one of the album's highlights, "Yo' Sassy Ways." Elsewhere, "Ghetto Village" interpolates Stevie Wonder's "Village Ghetto Land" quite notably. From beginning to end, you can sense Warren's sense of purpose here -- he knows a rapper's shelf life is brief, and his is running out. He gives you everything he's capable of, from a radio-ready duet to a pop-rap interpolation. Warren wanted this to be a strong comeback album. That's obvious. And that's also partly what feels so uneasy about Return of the Regulator -- you can sense the desperation as well as the calculation. The album is too self-conscious for its own good at times, and as much as he tries, Warren still struggles to rap as eloquently as his colleagues. The end sum of Return of the Regulator then isn't quite equal to its many parts. Its assembly is nonetheless still a feat, making this Warren's most labored effort to date, even if it isn't the red-carpeted return he'd like it to be.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
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