APPRECIATION: Nathaniel ‘Nate Dogg’ Hale RIP


Hengeveld.jpgBY MATTHEW HENGEVELD Alas, the death of another hip-hop icon— the ever raspy Nate Dogg. He was a frequently phoned-in guest rapper for anyone who needed a pristine hook. His works were catchy, but nothing that pushed away the hardcore fans. He made a name for himself as a singer amongst the G-Unit army and Death Row drones, and still got his props from waves of R&B fans, including R. Kelly, tha Kang himself. He got his two feet on the ground with tracks like “Deeez Nuts” on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic (“IIIII can’t be faded.. I’m a nigga from the motherfucking streets.”) and his playful collab with Ludacris “Area Codes” which won him a fucking Grammy.

Jokes aside, most will remember Nate Dogg for five monumental words: “Hey, hey, hey, hey… Smoke weed every day.” And make no mistake, those are undoubtedly five of the most infamous words ever muttered in hip-hop. But Nate Dogg was much more than yesteryear’s T-Pain. His determination was noticeable in every song he sang. Nate Dogg was at his best on Eminem’s “Collapse.” His ability to encapsulate Eminem’s raw emotion, yet bring a freeing sound to Em’s self-produced, robotic-sounding beat, was a feat of sheer mastery. He forced his voice to fade in and out at the pace of a heartbeat, and spoke with an unblinking urgency that showed a seriousness to his often humorous or ultra-playa-rific antics.

It was heartbreaking when I learned about his stroke in 2008, and that he would never be able to sing again. The feeling was somewhat akin to first seeing Michael J. Fox with Parkinson’s disease. It got you in the gut. Singing was Nate Dogg’s passion, and that talent was suddenly stripped from him. A family member of mine suffered a stroke around the same time, and so I know firstahand that the aftermath can be gruesome, inhumane and numbing. It’s terribly sad that Nate Dogg passed away, but, at the very least we can be happy that he no longer in the tortured condition he was reportedly in for the last three years. Rest in peace Nate D-O-double-G.

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