When I did a "Whatever Happened to..."piece back in June 2010 that featured Nate Dogg, I was thinking even then that it could have very easily been an obituary. Dude had just suffered two strokes and reports were he wasn't doing well. At least he was still with us though. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case.
Hip-hop legend Nathinel D. Hale, better known to all true hip-hop fans as Nate Dogg, passed away last night. Cause of death not yet known. He was only 41-years-young.
I saw a headline somewhere online where someone proclaimed "Nate Dogg's body turned cold". While it is a little callous, it was also paying homage to him in a way. It was one of his best known lines from the part he sang in the classic hit "Regulate". It also reminded us that Nate Dogg had some of the best hooks in the business. Ever.
Death Row records was arguably the biggest juggernaut in the rap game when Dr. Dre left Ruthless and took his talents to the new label. He immediately became the best thing about Death Row. Snoop was second. You could say that for a time there 2Pac could have been considered third, but he was more or less a free agent. I would venture to say their third biggest asset was Nate Dogg.
Nate's tenor/baritone voice was the perfect counter to any and every song he graced. It was guaranteed that if you ever saw "featuring Nate Dogg" on a song title that that cut would be on point. No questions asked. He just made every song better. It didn't even matter that he probably had a range restricted to about three or four notes. He would straight ROCK those three or four notes with a hook that would stay with you forever.
I never will fully understand why Nate didn't have the crossover appeal then that say a Drake or even a T-Pain has now. Although he did release a couple of solo albums they went largely unnoticed. Was it because he sang only and didn't also rhyme? Was it because he had the stigma of Suge Knight's presence permanently attached to him? Whatever the reason he clearly deserved more recognition.
Nate Dogg was a true talent whose absence from hip-hop AND R&B had been truly missed ever since those strokes first caused him to disappear. Now his passing has created a void that will never be filled. At least we will always have his G Funk classics that will be even more appreciated now than when he was still with us.
Rest in peace, Nate.