Nate Dogg has made more cameos lately than Alfred Hitchcock ever did — a practice he will curtail as he gears up for the release of his own Music & Me. The follow-up to 1998's G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1 & 2 is scheduled to arrive in stores December 4, and Nate said he will not appear on anyone else's songs until his album is released.
The crooner's new collection will be decidedly more upbeat than G-Funk Classics, released after a tumultuous stay with Death Row Records.
"I'm definitely talking about having fun, with ladies and drinks," Nate said of his new album. "That's part of my life. I do that a lot. This album is a lot lighter than the last album, which was heavier because I was going through a lot during the Death Row days. It came out after Pac passed, so a lot of stuff was going on. I got a lot of load off this album."
Nate Dogg, who said he owes his success to his distinctive voice, unloads by himself on seven of the 14 songs on Music & Me. He's joined by Dr. Dre, Jermaine Dupri, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Tha Eastsidaz, Lil' Mo and others on the album's other half.
Despite his many collaborations of the past few years, and the bevy of rappers popping up on his own album, Nate Dogg said his album's title was inspired by his unbreakable relationship with music.
"That's all I know how to do, just make music," he said. "Wherever I go with my life, even the good times and the bad parts, only two people are with me, God and my music. That's what keeps me from killing people. Sometimes I have some stuff in my head, man, you wouldn't believe. But I can go to the studio and talk about it. That's my way of releasing."
Nate Dogg releases by himself on the bluesy, Bink-produced lead single, "I Got Love." He shot the video for the cut and its remix the final week of September. The remix features guest vocals from Fabolous, Kurupt and up-and-comer B.R.E.T.T.
Dr. Dre produces and raps on "Your Wife," which is, surprisingly, the first time Dr. Dre has worked on a Nate Dogg album despite being affiliated with the singer for nearly a decade.
Other cuts include "Back Door," wherein Nate explains how he can slip in the back door if a girl's man slips up by going to the club. "Ring the Alarm" is a Jermaine Dupri-produced cut about being in the club when you told your girl you'd be in the studio, and what happens when she shows up at the club. "Real Pimps," featuring Ludacris, and "Dumb Ditty Do," featuring Snoop and Tha Eastsidaz, are club songs. The title track describes what Nate's gone through in the music industry and how music soothes him.
Beside Dr. Dre, Music & Me features production from Mike City (Carl Thomas), Battlecat (Snoop Dogg), Damizza (Mariah Carey), Mel-Man (Dr. Dre), Fred Wreck (Kurupt), Dupri (Lil' Bow Wow) and others.
After working with a variety of acts from a variety of locales, Nate Dogg wanted to achieve universal appeal with Music & Me.
"I see myself as the ambassador of hip-hop," he said. "I do songs with people from everywhere. We ain't got nothing but love. There's so much money if we get out there."
Even though he's enjoyed plenty of exposure thanks to recent appearances on Ludacris' "Area Codes," Fabolous' "Can't Deny It," Shade Shiest's "Where I Wanna Be" and Snoop Dogg's "Lay Low," success was a long time coming for Nate Dogg. As an integral member of Death Row Records during its peak, he appeared on platinum-plus albums from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and others — yet he never released his own album on the storied imprint.
In March, five of six charges were dropped against Nate in a case stemming from an incident during which he allegedly kidnapped his former girlfriend and set her mother's car on fire. A judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to hold him on charges of arson, kidnapping, domestic abuse, battery and terrorist threats. In August, Nate pleaded guilty to possession of an unmarked gun, for which he was placed on three years' probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
Nate Dogg said he's ready to put his problematic past behind him.
"The problems didn't stop coming," he said. "I just learned not to let them worry me. It takes time to learn how to throw a curveball and life don't throw nothing but curveballs. I'm hitting now, so I'm alright."