Wanz and Warren G - 'To: Nate Dogg' Song Premiere

Macklemore's Thrift Shop partner Wanz, Warren G, Grynch and Crytical pay tribute to Nate Dogg.
Wanz © Zoe Rain
By Elliott Sharp

Wanz is the man who sings on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' Grammy Award winning song 'Thrift Shop.' Lewis initially sought out Wanz because he was looking for a singer who sounded like Nate Dogg, the late Long Beach rapper and singer most well-known for his Warren G collaboration, 'Regulate.' So it only makes sense that Wanz would eventually link up with Nate Dogg pal Warren G to record a song.

Today we are excited to premiere 'To: Nate Dogg,' the new song by Wanz featuring Warren G, Grynch and Crytical, which you can listen to above.

"It's important to dedicate this track to Nate," explains Wanz. "He was and arguably is the singing voice of West Coast hip-hop. His smooth, velvet tones carved out a niche that to this day have never been matched, in my opinion. I'm not trying to match what Nate did, either. I'm trying to show respect to the man I've been compared to and having his homie put a stamp of approval on my efforts by adding a verse and his name to my song proves that it's the right thing to do."

Listen to Wanz's new song up top; 'To: Nate Dogg' is also available now through iTunes. Below, read the rest of our interview with Wanz, where he talks more about Nate Dogg, his Warren G collaboration, and how his life has changed since meeting Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Ryan Lewis was looking for someone who sounded like Nate Dogg when he and Macklemore were doing 'Thrift Shop,' and they found you. How do you feel about that comparison?

I'm good with it. I had spent the early 2000s recording hooks for artists with Streetlevel Records, which is how I met Crytical. I lived in the north end of Seattle and it didn't take long for me to garner the name "Nate Dogg of the North End." After 'Thrift Shop' broke, I felt good to be compared to such a legend. That comparison is what inspired 'To: Nate Dogg' in the first place. I had read a comment saying, "Oh, He's just trying to sound like Nate Dogg." So I said to myself, "Oh, you wanna hear me 'try' to sound like Nate? Here ya go!!"

Do you remember the first time you heard Nate Dogg and Warren G's 'Regulate?'

My first thoughts were, "I know this song...what, oh shit, that's a Michael McDonald track!" I loved it from the start because the bass line in 'I Keep Forgettin' near the end is frickin' crazy good! Seeing that hip-hop could borrow from pop and make it completely different in content and feel was so cool!

'Regulate' was smooth, concise, with a great story and Nate's vocal interplay made it classic. To this day, I've never heard anyone try to remake it, which is a testament to how difficult and prolific that track really is. I know I couldn't figure out how to cover Nate's parts when Warren thought about me singing it with him.

What was it like working with Warren G?

Warren and I first met in Austin in the spring of 2012 and I spent an afternoon with him and his crew. At one point, I asked him, "What was Nate like?" He told me about his friend. I could hear how much he missed Nate. I felt pretty frickin' honored to be in the room at that time to hear that. That conversation has always stuck with me.

Warren and I communicated on and off but never planned anything. When the idea of doing this song came to fruition, it was Grynch who pushed it to Warren to get him on. I didn't know those two knew each other. When Warren asked to save him some bars after hearing the track, I was through the roof! I remember the earlier conversation between us and what he said about his friend. Warren sent back the track with his verse on it and instead of his being the last verse, I had to put it up front simply because it felt like the right thing to do in honor of his friend.

Since that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis collab, you've been able to quit your job and pursue your music career. Simply put: how does that feel?

Well, I quit my job to tour with Macklemore back in October of 2012. I had never been on tour since going to different high schools and staying with host families when I was in my college jazz choir. Needless to say, the last year and a half has been nothing short of dream come true stuff for me. I had given up pursuing fame doing music around 2008 because my mind told me "there's no such thing as an old pop star," and I believed it.

I fought through depression for over a year, then landed a great software testing job in the fall of 2010. I became gainfully employed with a full time job for the first time in over 25 years! Then in the summer of 2011, I auditioned for and landed a chorus part in the Seattle Opera's production of Porgy & Bess. I had never done opera before. By June of 2012, I was pretty content with my life, working my job, recording in my bedroom just for myself and friends. Then I got that phone call that changed my life. Yes, life has been both unbelievable and amazing since, indeed!

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