Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The Incomparable & Now Immortal Nate Dogg
(Sunrise 8/19/1969-3/15/2011 Sunset)
Warren G - Regulate ft. Nate Dogg
Mista Grimm - Indo Smoke
2Pac, Thug Life & Nate Dogg - How Long Will They Mourn Me?
10:39 AM on 03/16/2011
In September 2008, it stunned hip-hop fans across the country to learn that Nate Dogg, the "king of the hip-hop hook," had suffered a stroke, his second in as many years. We were left to wonder just how much time the hip-hop legend had left on this earth. Rumors would surface every few months or so, as they do for celebrities, of his passing, but Nate Dogg endured and faith was kept that he would be able get back into the studio and bless some songs with his signature voice. But after the years of prayers and well wishes, we find ourselves paying our respects because as of March 15, 2011, the man who taught us how to "regulate" has passed on.
The news reports and obituaries will likely refer to him as a rapper, but Nate Dogg was never known for spitting a verse. No, when Nate Dogg hit the track, he was bringing something complete new, confusing and wonderful that has been imitated (Akon and T-Pain basically owe their careers to this man) but never successfully duplicated: he was a gangsta crooner. In another lifetime, perhaps, he may have sung alongside Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, or Nat King Cole, but Nate was born into a time that made him them perfect candidate to become the definitive voice of the "G-Funk" era in hip-hop.
He first appeared on Dr. Dre's seminal, genre-defining record, The Chronic, in 1992, but it was his work with former 213 group members Snoop Dogg and Warren G that gained him the most recognition and put his skills in high demand. Without Nate's harmonizing vocals, Snoop and crew's "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None)" is little more than a vile recounting of some questionable sexual practices. It isn't much more than that with Nate's vocals, to be honest, but he did add a certain lightheartedness to the affair that made you feel better about singing along.
On Warren G's only major hit, 1994's "Regulate", Nate plays the hero in a story where Warren G is being robbed during a game of dice and Nate is called upon to "turn some bodies cold" and the two ride off into the sunset with some women they meet nearby. It was cowboy tale set in the streets of Compton.
His list of collaborators reads like a list of "who's who?" in Hip-Hop. He recorded dozens of songs with aforementioned Snoop Dogg and Warren G and became a staple on songs with rappers who hailed from West Coast, paying homage to and trying to emulate the work found on The Chronic and Doggystyle, but eventually emcees from all over the map called on Nate Dogg to bless their tracks with his soulful baritone. Eminem, Ludacris, 50 Cent, Freeway, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Jadakiss, Kurupt, Fabolous, The Game, Ice Cube, Eve, the late Tupac Shakur, and so many more owe a debt of gratitude to Nate Dogg for adding a special mix of soul, funk, and gangsta personality to their songs.
His unique way of hiding in the groove, but managing to stand out, yet never overpowering a track helped to produce smooth and mellow records and club jams with equal aplomb. He gained a reputation as a guaranteed hitmaker, contributing to over 40 songs that would go on to become chart singles. Nate Dogg's voice was gold.
But his health wasn't. He suffered two strokes before the age of 40 and now, at the age of 41, has passed away. If there is any lesson for us to take away from his passing, it's that regular check-ups and visits to the doctor to monitor health and vital signs is of the utmost importance, especially among black men. Across this country, black men face health risks from high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, and host of other deadly but preventable diseases, but our proclivity toward preventative health measures remains dormant. And it wasn't too long ago we were all filled with anxiety over the deteriorating condition of the Father of Hip-Hop, DJ Kool Herc. While our health care system remains flawed, it's imperative we start taking our own health more seriously. Perhaps these are the type of wake-up calls the hip-hop community and black men in general need to get the message.
But now isn't a time for preaching or proselytizing; right now is a time to remember a man who shared his gifts with the world and left an indelible mark on a culture that has influenced more than a few. Undoubtedly, the sexism, misogyny, and gangsta iconography that became a staple of his lyrics will be hotly debated, as they should, but one thing that was undeniable was Nate Dogg's talent. He originated something that, now, hip-hop can't seem to live without, and as a community we are forever grateful. We can all don our fedoras, take a ride in a '64 Chevy Impala, and zone out to our favorite Nate Dogg hooks. He wouldn't have it any other way.
Nate Dogg @ Wikipedia:
Posted by tha artivist at 7:29 PM