On March 15, 2011 Nathaniel Dwayne Hale, who we all know as Nate Dogg, passed away. Nate is most notable as the man with the smooth hook on the Grammy nominated hit single “The Next Episode” by Dr. Dre. This hip hop anthem included my favorite line of all time, “Hold Up!” I remember bumping to this joint back in 2000. And who can forget Nate swaying on the chorus of 50 Cent’s 2003 gangsta love song “21 Questions”. Over the years Nate Dogg has graced us with his soulful, yet laidback and captivating r&b/g-funk vocals, and as fans, family and friends deal with the reality that he is no longer here, I’d like to take our readers on a journey to try and understand who Nate Dogg was and what he leaves behind.
Born in August 1969 in Long Beach, California, Nathaniel grew up in a Christian home. An entertainer since birth, Nathaniel started singing at his local church in Long Beach, and later at a Baptist church in Mississipi where his father was a pastor. Nathaniel dropped out of high school and joined the Marine Corps when he was 16 years old. While growing up in California, Nathaniel, who started calling himself Nate Dogg, became friends with Snoop Dogg and Warren G, and all three formed a hip hop/rap trio called 213. The trio recorded a demo tape and sent it to various record labels around their home town of Long Beach, which later fell into the hands of producer and rapper Dr. Dre. Dre was impressed by their smooth rap style and Nate’s gangsta funk, r&b vocals, which led to 213 making their appearance individually on Dre’s debut album “The Chronic“. Nate’s vocals were well-received by fans and in 1993, he signed unto Death Row Records.
Nate made several appearances on records by other artists leading up to the release of his debut album “G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1 & 2” in 1998. His album had been pushed back several times due to conflicts associated with Death Row Records, however it was officially released by Elektra. “G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1 & 2” included his 1996 single “Never Leave Me Alone” and the 1998 single “Nobody Does It Better“, featuring Snoop Dogg and Warren G respectively. In 2000, Nate made an appearance on Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode” single alongside Snoop Dogg. The popular track was included on Dre’s second album “2001“, which debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Charts. Nate released his second studio album “Music and Me” in 2001. He continued making guest appearances til the release of his self-titled third studio in 2008 which had several delays due to Nate’s health.
In December 2007, Nate suffered a stroke that rendered the left side of his body paralyzed. He was released in January 2008 and was believed to make a full recovery. However, in September 2008 Nate suffered another stroke which affected his vocal abilities completely. Since then he had been doing physical therapy in order to regain some capabilities, however Nate never fully recovered. On March 15, 2011 Nate Dogg died from Congestive Heart Failure and other compilations from his previous strokes. He was only 41 years old.
As of 2004, Nate Dogg has been featured on over 40 singles that have charted, and a countless amount of unreleases. He has also appeared on several soundtracks for film and video games, and has been nominated for four Grammy awards including Best Rap Performance for the 1995 hit “Regulate” by Warren G, and the 2001 hit “The Next Episode“. Nate was truly a talented singer who offered his g-funk lyrics to many artists over the years, as well as providing us with compilations of his own. He is a music legend that will never be forgotten. R.I.P. Nate Dogg, thanks to you I’m always rocking out to “Hold Up!” So be sure to reminisce on the track below: