Some say the highly sought after Nate Dogg was born with the Midas touch. Born in Long Beach CA, but groomed in the legendary flood plains of Clarksdale, Mississippi, you can also bet he was schooled on the importance of another kind of power, emanating from the church where his father preached. Choir skills may not necessarily be a prerequisite for shaping and redefining the West coast rap sound (Nate's role in left coast hip hop lore has been duly logged and categorized), but those memories served him well as he prepared his much-anticipated solo journey for Elektra. A quick read of the lyrics of the new album's pivotal title track, "Music And Me," reveals a more reflective Nate Dogg paying homage to the deep, rich roots of his past:
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/Without my music, where would I be, you taught me how to cry and still remain a G.../
Make no mistake about it, Nate Dogg is still the embodiment of G-Funk flash and finesse, from the top of his emblematic bowler to the soles of his silver-tipped gator shoes. "I'm not saying I invented the shit," he purrs, "But when you think of it, there's no mistaking that I've always held my own." The new album, if nothing else, is a testament to the influence Nate Dogg now wields. Armed with a signature voice and - as always - impeccable timing, he now steps into an arena waiting on him, with the charismatic superstar ready, willing, and able to cast his own giant shadow throughout the R&B and hip hop universe.
The disc is jam packed with a host of superstar guests who are eager to pay him back for countless cameo contributions on an amazing array of hits. Backed by a diverse production team on the new one, and exhibiting multi-regional influences that showcase Nate Dogg's indestructible voice, Music And Me features the production talents of Dr. Dre, Jermaine Dupri, Bink, Mike City, Megahertz, Damizza and many more.
Nate also collaborates with a slew of top-notch hip hop stars, including Ludacris, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and labelmates Lil' Mo and Fabolous, among others. "I didn't want guest shots just to have them," says Nate Dogg. "I wanted to call on some people that could contribute what I needed, but at the same time, you hear this album and you know I'm my own artist with my own vision." Songs like "Keep It G.A.N.G.S.T.A."(featuring Lil' Mo and Xhibit), "Your Wife" (featuring Dr. Dre), "Ditty Dum Ditty Doo" (featuring Snoop Dogg & Tha Eastsidaz), and "Another Short Story," confirm Nate's growing stature as a songwriter. But as someone who has always lent his own hooks to new school rappers, the challenge was to fill his own album with just as many contagious songs. "Going into the studio, my goal was to make fifteen singles and that's what I did," he says proudly. "The album is a reflection of what's been going on in my life, and I don't ever run out of material when it comes to that."
The unflappable performer has indeed sparked many inspired 'moments' along the way. Nate Dogg - aka Nathaniel Hale - moved early from Long beach to Mississippi where the rambunctious Nate would be surrounded by religion. But a return to Long Beach when he was a teenager would soon find Nate in the company of another potential superstar, Snoop Dogg. He hooked up with Snoop and Dr. Dre's half-brother, Warren G, to form the group 213. They became a staple at local block parties and clubs. Meanwhile, Dr. Dre would go on to change the face of music forever with the controversial group NWA.
Dr. Dre and his label home, Death Row Records, kept their eye on 213. But it was Nate Dogg's debut on Dre's first solo release, The Chronic, that turned the rap world's attention to Nate Dogg. His appearance on Warren G's breakthrough hit, "Regulate," furthered his growing rep. But Nate was still eager to shine on his own. After Death Row Records failed to ignite Nate's solo career, he left the infamous label and went on to release the acclaimed G-Funk Classics Vol.1 & 2 on Breakaway Records. Though now considered a cult classic, its lack of major label support would mean that mainstream success would still elude the dedicated vocalist.
Soon, Nate began to build a solid rep doing guest shots for other artists. His legend began to grow, with underground and aboveground record industry movers and shakers taking note that his presence on a record often meant the difference between a brick and a hit. Over the last couple of years, his resume has included collaborations on songs such as Ludacris' "Area Codes," Dr. Dre's "Next Episode," Snoop Dogg's "Lay Low," and Fabolous' "Can't Deny It," among others. "It never bothered me that I got known for appearing on other songs, because it was always my goal to let people know what I could do as my own artist," says Nate Dogg. "I've been building for this moment all my life. Anyone who knew me knows I've always been ready."
A recent fact-check shows that Nate Dogg's collaborations with the hip hop elite have totaled close to 60 million records sold over the past decade. From the Delta, to Death Row, and now to the front row of the hip hop and R&B landscape, Nate Dogg has always been able to seamlessly link the often-disparate worlds of urban music. His first single, the mesmerizing "I Got Love," just might be the ultimate ode to a career that seems to be finally getting its due. "I've matured a bit, grown a lot," says Nate Dogg philosophically. "In the end, everything happens for a reason. I'm just happy to be in a position where I can sit back, relax, and produce my music."
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