LONG BEACH, California -- On a dark and damp Saturday morning (March 26), thousands of family, friends and fans turned out for one last show from their hero, [article id="1660728"]rap legend Nate Dogg[/article], who was laid to rest in his hometown of Long Beach.
Inside the Long Beach Cruise Terminal, lights shined down on the wooden coffin adorned with red and white flowers. Two jumbo screens on opposite sides of his casket flashed six different photos of the singer from a childhood boy, when he was known to family as "Buddy," to the platinum singer known to the world as Nate Dogg.
West Coast rap artists including Dr. Dre, Game, DJ Quik, Mack-10 and WC, DJ Pooh, Battlecat and others were on hand to pay their respects to the singer with platinum vocal chords.
"1986, Poly High School, that's where we connected for the first time," an emotionally distraught Snoop reflected on his friend. "We didn't know each other, but the music connected us. We built a brotherhood, a friendship."
Snoop first met Nate along with his best friend Warren G at the school where they would go on to form the rap trio 213. Warren G spoke briefly, reminding mourners in attendance what a great man the music world has lost.
"It hurts me so much to see this," Warren G said somberly while looking down at the casket. "We been through a whole lot and that was my dog. He stayed down with me from the bottom to the top. I didn't ever think I would have to sit at a funeral for one of my dogs. All I can say is that was my friend, me him and Snoop was 213 from the balls to the walls. The music industry lost an incredible artist."
Several of Nate's closest friends, relatives and colleagues including Xzibit, Daz and Kurupt, Butch Cassidy, Los Angeles radio station personality Big Boy from Power 106, and producer FredWreck all shared memorable stories of their friend, who they said made an important impact on their lives. Xzibit recalled a time during the Up in Smoke Tour when Nate was arrested, but hours later somehow magically appeared at the show's next date. A teary-eyed Kurupt said Nate was the father figure who raised him.
Manager Rod McGrew acted as Nate's manager throughout his professional music career and was with him up until his last days.
"He fought a hard fight," McGrew said. He also thanked Dr. Dre and Eminem, in addition to Snoop, Warren G and Xzibit, for assisting the family in getting through the past several days. "The last three years were unbelievable. He didn't give up. He just had a talk with God and gave up. Two hours before that he was fine."
McGrew said that with Nate's passing, the singer's three wishes will now be granted.
"He wanted to go to heaven and hang with his boys," McGrew said. "He loved Tupac. He recorded with him. He wanted to hang with Biggie. But the most important thing is that he can walk around heaven with his favorite artist of all time, Michael Jackson."
With his deep, melodic voice and smooth soul rumble, Dogg was one of the key elements in the rise of the West Coast G-Funk sound pioneered by Death Row Records in the early 1990s. Along with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Warren G, Nate was a critical participant in a number of major left-coast gangsta hits, including G's "Regulate" and Dre's iconic solo debut, 1992's The Chronic.
The hip-hop singer passed away earlier this month after suffering multiple health setbacks in the past several years stemming from separate strokes.
The choir that sang during Nate's home-going was handpicked by the singer himself. One of its members, [article id="1660583"]Jacob Lusk[/article], is currently a contestant on "American Idol."
"He was a loving caring individual," said Snoop. "If you listen to his music, he took church melodies and flipped it with hip-hop. I'm so honored, so happy that you gave me the opportunity, God, to know Nate Dogg. I want to stand here and cry, but I have to have the strength for you Nate Dogg. It's 213, DPG for life."