This morning I woke to the sad news that hiphop had lost another one of it’s icons. The undisputed king of the g-funk hook, Nate D-O double G. He suffered through two strokes in december 2007 and january 2008, the second one rendering the left side of his body paralized. Details surrounding his death are currently unavailable but his family confirmed his passing. He was born and raised in Long Beach and lived to be 41 years of age.
Despite his prominence and influence on hiphop he was never hugely succesful as a solo artist. He did produce a huge slew of hits though, from the early 90s to the early naughts, Nate was a chart staple with his indomitable hooks. The recognizable bass in his voice and his singing cadence became a signature sound of the G-Funk era as much as Dre’s piano tinges or Ohio Players’ Funky Worm or George Clinton samples would ever be, and the biggest producers knew this.
He featured on Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ and when the time came for Dre’s big comeback on ‘The Chronic 2001′ he was there as well, with a literally showstopping performance on lead single ‘The Next Episode’. Snoop’s verse came by, Dre’s verse came by, and even though it knocked something was still slightly off, slightly incomplete. But when that pause dropped and you heard that voice saying “Hold up…” you knew what it was. In that very second the song transformed from a solid rap song to a straight up anthem. Everyone who’s ever been in a club when the song came on can attest to that. Just try to hold back chanting along with it’s final line, even rabid non-smokers will probably have a hard time doing so.
On 2Pac’s magnum opus ‘All Eyez On Me’ Nate was there as well. ‘All About U’ was the template for what would later become the cliché song about video hoes, and given the subject matter could’ve easily turned into a misogynistic, spiteful song. That would’ve been catastrophic for Pac, who just became a free man after serving jail time in a (questionable) rape case. While the verses on the song didn’t exactly pull any punches the hook clearly outlined it’s playful intent with a melodic and lighthearted vocal setting up the punchline to the song that Snoop would drive home in his ad-libs. It’s a joke, cheer up everybody! And try not to crack up while singing along to it’s chorus.
There are dozens of examples like these. Nate Dogg had the rare power to deliver an emcee with a catchy hook able to crossover to a wide array of consumers without loosing any street cred. Hiphop heads appreciated the ‘G’ part but the ‘Funk’ was what drew everybody in eventually. The west coast, hiphop and music culture have lost a strong voice. He will be missed.