Remembering Nate Dogg, Hip-Hop's Hook Man : The Record The singer most associated with 1990s gangsta rap passed away after suffering two strokes in recent years.

Remembering Nate Dogg, Hip-Hop's Hook Man

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

West Coast hip-hop lost an important voice this week. Long Beach, California, native Nate Dogg died Tuesday of complications from multiple strokes. He was 41 years old. Nate Dogg sang on chart-topping rap songs for Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent.

NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji has this remembrance.

(Soundbite of song, "Regulate")

WARREN G (Rapper): (Singing) Regulators, mount up. It was a clear black night...

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI: If you came of age in the '90s and are from California - like me - you know Warren G's "Regulate." It's part of the soundtrack of your life.

(Soundbite of song, "Regulate")

WARREN G: (Singing) ...chilling all alone.

BIG BOY (Radio Host): (Singing) Just hit the east side of the LBC on a mission trying to find Mr. Warren G.

Like, soon as you heard that, boom, you're on the floor.

MERAJI: L.A. radio personality Big Boy is talking about the dance floor. He says West Coast rappers and producers knew they could always count on the smooth stylings of Nate Dogg and his golden voice.

BIG BOY: Ice Cube said it best: It's not a hit until Nate Dogg spit. He was the assist leader. I mean, you went to him if you wanted a hit record.

(Soundbite of song, "Xplosive")

NATE DOGG (Singer): (Singing) When I met you last night, baby, before I blew your mind. Blew, blew...

MERAJI: Nate Dogg was a hip-hop crooner in a rapper's world. He had the uncanny ability to tame hypersexual, misogynistic lyrics to sing a hook that had you hooked even when you knew it wasn't PC.

(Soundbite of song, "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None)")

NATE DOGG: (Singing) It ain't no fun if the homies can't have none. It ain't no fun...

MERAJI: And it was that ability to smooth out hard-core lyrics about gangster life that helped set apart West Coast rap from its gritty East Coast counterpart. Nate Dogg played a huge role in shaping that style, says Billboard magazine editor Danyel Smith.

Ms. DANYEL SMITH (Editor, Billboard): He did change pop music. Along with Warren G and with Dr. Dre, he was an architect of what the West Coast sound of rap music really was.

MERAJI: The sound Nate Dogg helped create in the '90s prevails. And Californians like Alejandro De La Cruz, Denise Tejada and Brandon McFarland, from Youth Radio, say they'll be singing Nate Dogg hooks long after his death.

Unidentified Man #1: (Host, Youth Radio): (Singing) Eastside Hotel.

And that is just something smooth.

Ms. DENISE TEJADA (Host, Youth Radio): (Singing) Hold up, hey, what up be thinking we ...

You know, like, that song just slaps.

Unidentified Man #2: (Singing) All the true gangstas know. Nate ain't never loved no ho.

MERAJI: Hmm. I'll leave the singing to Nate Dogg.

(Soundbite of song, "The Next Episode")

NATE DOGG: (Singing) Hold up, hey...

MERAJI: Shereen Marisol Meraji, NPR News.

(Soundbite of song, "The Next Episode ")

NATE DOGG: (Singing) We don't play. We going rock it 'til the wheels fall off. Hold up, hey...

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