Nate Dogg RIP
So…Nate Dogg died.
Obviously, this is not cutting edge news, but just for once, let’s allow ourselves dwell on a story for more than 48 hours before moving on to the next so-shitty-she’s-famous singer or so-and-so’s free mix tape. In a way, there’s no moving on from Nate Dogg; he was the first and the last of his kind.
For someone who’s presence was so ubiquitous in hip-hop for the past two decades, he never once spit a single verse. For someone so closely associated with the west coast, some of his biggest hits have been with big name artists from the South (Ludacris, Cee-Lo), East Coast (50 Cent, Mobb Deep, Jadakiss) and beyond, including (then) underground cats like Mos Def. And despite making a living singing hooks on rap records, he never even flirted with becoming a mainstream R&B dude. Nate Dogg invented his own style and forced the rest of the world to deal with it. He was going to tell bitches he “had respect for you lady…but now I take it all back” and have them singing along to it before they realized what was happening. Nate’s unmistakable voice, style and presence, no matter how small a role they played in a song, added something that indisputably could not be duplicated by having anyone else sing in his place. And when combined with west coast production–particularly anything by Dr. Dre, DJ Quik or Warren G–he turned otherwise forgettable songs into major hits (see Snoop Dogg’s “Lay Low,” Fabolous’s “Can’t Deny It” or Kurupt’s “Girls All Pause” for a few of many examples). Songs like “Xxxplosive” and “Regulate” fall into that slim category of tracks that you can throw on at any party, for any audience, and people you would never imagine listening to hip-hop know all the words.
Admittedly, time had been catching up to Nate even before his first debilitating stroke in 2008. Almost 20 years after helping pioneer the g-funk sound, a Nate Dogg hook represented more of a nostalgic anachronism than a recipe for a hit song. If it wasn’t for working with his closest, most frequent collaborators–Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Warren G and later, Eminem–Nate Dogg might have been relegated to somewhat embarrassing typecast roles, as on Jadakiss’s “Regulate” remake “Kiss is Spittin.” But Nate wasn’t about reinventing himself or pushing boundaries; he was about doing one thing, something only he could do, and doing it so well no one dared even attempt to emulate him (sorry, Butch Cassidy). He will be missed.
My Top 10 Nate Dogg songs, in no particular order
1. “Xxxplosive” f/ Dr. Dre, Kurupt and 6Two
2. “Regulate” f/ Warren G
3. “Skandalouz” f/ 2Pac
4. “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)” f/ Snoop Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound and Warren G
5. “Yo Sassy Ways” f/ Snoop Dogg and Warren G
6. “The Game Don’t Wait” f/ Warren G, Snoop Dogg and Xzibit
7. “Behind the Walls” f/ Kurupt
8. “One More Day”
9. “Girls All Pause” f/ Kurupt
10. “Never Leave Me Alone” f/ Snoop Dogg
The infamous video of Nate Dogg fighting with a couple Ruthless Records artists during the Dre-Eazy-E beef…Method Man and Inspectah Deck happen to be on site as well…