One year ago to the day (March 15), hip-hop suffered a great loss when singer Nate Dogg died due to complications from multiple strokes. Nate was a pivotal figure in the West Coast’s dominating G-Funk sound in the 1990’s, and his closest friends and collaborators still feel his impact.
He added deep and soulful melodies to many hit records, notably appearing alongside Dr. Dre and his childhood friends Snoop Dogg and Warren G. Who could forget his bass-heavy bellows on Warren’s 1994 hit “Regulate” or Dre’s 2000 club banger “The Next Episode”? Not his fans, and surely not his loved ones.
Last year, MTV News took a trip out to Nate’s old stomping grounds in Long Beach, California, and made a pilgrimage to the store World Famous V.I.P. Records. While there, we got reactions from some who knew the singer best. Read on and be sure to click on the embedded video for an exclusive clip.
“To me, and probably all Nate Dogg fans and to the city of Long Beach, this is just as big to hip-hop as Big L, [Big] Pun, Jam Master Jay, somebody leaving the world of hip-hop,” said actor Ricky Harris, who appeared on skits on Snoop’s Doggstyle LP and Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. “He created a lane where there was no lane to get paid. If it weren’t for Nate Dogg — no disrespect to other artists — but where would artists like Akon and T-Pain, Drake [be]? A lot of cats that do that, as far as singing choruses and hooks, and nobody did it better than Nate Dogg.”
Nate’s cousin Deirdre Nichols remembered that even as a child, the iconic hip-hop crooner was always singing. “Him coming up, all I can remember is, him, his sister and brother, they always sung gospel in church and their mother always directed them,” she said. “Out in the streets here in Long Beach, in the neighborhoods and garages and parks, he was singing and rapping with his other friends such as Warren G and Snoop Dogg.”
Before his health issues began to arise, Nate lent his voice to so many hits. He didn’t just limit himself as a West Coast hookman, either. In 1998, he released his debut, G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2, and then branched out and collaborated with a number of notable East Coast and southern artists like Mos Def, Fabolous, Ludacris and 50 Cent.
DJ Battlecat, who has produced for Snoop, Xzibit and Game, told MTV News that he was proud to have played a role in Nate’s career. After Nate’s death, he urged fans to look on the positive side. “It’s never an ending situation, it’s a new beginning for Nate, so let’s celebrate that,” he said.
What is your fondest Nate Dogg memory? Tell us in the comments.