Nate Dogg, G-Funk purveyor and certified West Coast hip-hop legend has passed away. Every new age hip-hop artist with a tendency to seal their songs with a singer on its hook, or even sing those choruses themselves, needs to pay homage.
Contrary to popular belief, singing and harmonizing have always been part of hip-hop music. Seminal old-school groups like the Cold Crush Brothers and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five regularly mixed in crooning with their rapping.
But by the late 80s and early 90s, busting out sweet vocals on the mic had largely fallen out of favor. Enter Dr. Dre and his landmark album The Chronic, which featured vocals from Nate Dogg (see: “Deez Nuts”) in its cast of musical characters.
The melding of tight rhymes with Nate’s bass heavy but silky vocals saw its potential for radio smashes really manifest when Dr. Dre’s half brother Warren G dropped a single called “Regulate” in 1994. With Nate featured prominently, the song reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group category.
Over the following years Nate would become known as an essential hook man, featured on a plethora of songs from the likes of Mos Def (“Oh No”), Snoop Dogg (“Lay Low”), Dr. Dre (“The Next Episode”) and 50 Cent (“21 Questions”).
Thanks to Nate’s prolific collaborations with other artists, as well as a number of his own solo albums, any acts developing a similar reputation for melodically sung and catchy hip-hop hooks automatically drew comparisons to his golden voiced standard. That means artists like Akon, Drake and T-Pain, amongst many others, all owe Nate Dogg a debt of gratitude.
Following the news of the rapper/singer’s passing, Drake tweeted, “It's easy to love me now. RIP Nate Dogg.”
Indeed, thank Nate Dogg now.
What are some of your memories of rapper Nate Dogg? Tweet to us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below.