Nate Dogg: The Best Sidekick in Rap History
The late Nathaniel Hale (you know him as Nate Dogg) never charted a solo album inside the Billboard Top 30. He never released a gold record as a solo act. Hell, the guy only released three solo albums total before passing away from multiple strokes in March 2011. Point being, from a commercial perspective at least, Nate Dogg didn’t really resonate as a solo act. But man, no one this side of Scottie Pippen played a better sidekick.
Singing alongside legends like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G. and numerous others, Nate Dogg was the king of crafting a catchy chorus. As Ice Cube so adeptly put it on 2003’s “Gangsta Nation,” “It must be a single/with Nate Dogg singin’ on it.” Warren G is among the many artists who collaborated with Nate Dogg during the course of his career. In fact, G’s biggest hit – 1994’s “Regulate” – featured a hook from Nate Dogg himself. With Warren G playing Warehouse Live next Wednesday (July 13), it seems a fitting time to revisit Nate Dogg’s ten most iconic guest spots.
10. "Can't Deny It"
So you’re a young, aspiring rapper looking to make a splash with your debut album. What’s the best plan of action? Simple — have Nate Dogg guest on your first single. That’s exactly what Fabolous did in 2001 with this track, which peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard singles chart and propelled his debut album, Ghetto Fabolous, to platinum status.
9. "Lay Low"
Many tend to forget, but for a spell in the late '90s, Snoop Dogg was actually a No Limit Soldier. The marriage between the West Coast rapper and Southern record label, while commercially successful, was kind of a flop from a musical standpoint. Fortunately, before Snoop departed No Limit around the turn of the century, he enlisted Nate Dogg to help craft what stands as the best work of Snoop’s No Limit run.
8. "How Long Will They Mourn Me?"
Tupac Shakur was already a platinum-selling solo artist when he joined up with some friends in the rap group Thug Life. They only released one album, anchored by this Nate Dogg-assisted track, which helped cement Tupac’s standing as a rap force to be reckoned with. A little more than a year later, Pac released his masterpiece, All Eyez on Me. Seven months later, he was gunned down on the Vegas strip.
7. "21 Questions"
Ah, 2003, when 50 Cent was so hot he could pretty much put out anything and watch it fly to the top of the charts. All that capital allowed 50 to expose his tender side with “21 Questions,” a duet with Nate Dogg in which 50 questions his woman’s unconditional love. Producer Dr. Dre allegedly found the song too soft and thought it should be removed from 50’s multiplatinum debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Dre has made a lot of good calls during his illustrious career, but he whiffed on this one; “21 Questions” eventually became the No. 1 song in America.
6. "Bitch Please II"
Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP rocketed to the top of the charts thanks to singles like “The Real Slim Shady” and “The Way I Am,” but its best tracks were simply unfit for radio play. This includes “Kim,” “Criminal” and "Bitch Please II," which featured not only Nate Dogg but Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Xzibit as well. “Bitch Please II” finds Slim Shady attacking his haters with his trademark vitriol, while Nate Dogg chimes in with yet another catchy chorus.
5. "Gangsta Nation"
Nate Dogg was always regarded as rap music’s own secret weapon; Ice Cube just saw fit to publicly call it out with the aforementioned verse on this Westside Connection single. Nate’s delivery was so smooth that it often masked that he was just as capable as contemporaries like Ice Cube and Eminem of doling out disses. As much is evident on this chorus, which includes Grade-A shit-talk like “When we come through they run and duck/ we still right here so what the fuck.”
4. "Till I Collapse"
Nate Dogg reteamed with Eminem for 2002’s The Eminem Show; the result was arguably Slim Shady’s most underrated track. Just listen to the energy in both men’s voices; these are not men who plan on leaving the game quietly.
3. "The Next Episode"
A rarity in the Nate Dogg canon, in that he didn’t sing the chorus on this smash single from Dre’s 1999 comeback album, 2001. Rather, Nate Dogg – like Dre and Snoop Dogg – contributed a few verses, including perhaps his most famous lyrics: “...smoke weed every day.” Snoop considers these words to live by.
2. "Area Codes"
Ludacris never was a rapper who admired subtlety. He stayed true to form on this hit single from 2001, in which Luda rattles off area code after area code as testament to his prowess with the ladies. Nate Dogg keeps it direct also, uttering the same lyrics over and over…“I’ve got hoes/in different area codes.” Simple yet effective.
The song that made both Nate Dogg and Warren G famous, “Regulate” holds up as a classic, some 22 years after its release. After all, effortless flows and expert storytelling don’t age, and “Regulate” features both in spades. “Regulate” is not only the best song ever produced by Warren G or Nate Dogg; it ranks among the top hip-hop singles of all time.
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