The news of Nate Dogg’s death hit as I touched down in Austin. I have yet to recover. Expect some legitimate tributes from me next week. In the meantime, I believe my appreciation for the man was best expressed by my 2006 hypothesis that the nation’s woes were attributable to a dearth of Dogg.
Starting with the September 11th attacks in 2001, a noticeable uneasiness and uncertainty has crept into the American zeitgeist. Many have speculated that it stems from geo-political instability from the collapse of the dollar, the rise of China, increasing energy prices, the war in Iraq and global warming, etc. Others have blamed it on a cultural void, filled by the rise of reality shows and celebrities famous mainly for the sake of being famous. Needless to say, it has been a difficult time to be an American.
But as much as I agree with these various factors, I knew there was more to it. Something else was missing from the American dialogue. Something so indispensable that its absence had created a gaping chasm in the American psyche. However, what “it” was remained uncertain. Until yesterday, when in a wild rush of illumination, what “it” was became very clear. What we Americans lack in 2006 is Nate Dogg.
Yes. The one and only Nate D-O-Double-G. Perhaps the greatest singles artist in the history of hip-hop, Nate Dogg has been practically the one constant in almost every great West Coast hip-hop song ever. Yet his appeal stretches far beyond the insular world of hip-hop. If you play any American under 40 a rap song featuring Nate Dogg, made between the years 1992 and 2000, they can’t help but like it.
In fact, as American society increasingly becomes more polarized, Nate Dogg is the one thing that all Americans can agree on. People argue endlessly over the various merits of Jay-Z and Nas, 2Pac and Biggie, 50 Cent and The Game, but who argues over Nate Dogg? No one. From sorority girls to jocks, to gangsters in the hood, to even indie rock snobs, everyone can agree of Nate Dogg’s singular greatness. All one really needs to do is press play on “Regulate,” and watch the endless euphoria and bliss unfurl.
And yet there’s more to Nate Dogg than just the fact that he looks the same in every goddamned picture. A close inspection of his career reveals the fact that he was probably responsible for America’s glorious economic boom during the 1990’s.
1992 was notable for a variety of reasons: the election of Bill Clinton, the Los Angeles riots, the invasion of Somalia. But most importantly, 1992 was notable for the debut of Nate Dogg on the famed Dr. Dre album, The Chronic. On that album, Nate made just one appearance on the unfortunately named song, “Deez Nuuuts,” (needless to say, it’s an existential crisis waiting to happen when you find yourself looking up how many “U’s” are used in the album spelling of the word “nuts.”) But very much like the 1992 American economy that had yet to rev up from the recession of Bush 1’s term, Nate Dogg’s career had barely even begun.
No, it wasn’t until November of 1993, when Nate Dogg’s fabled appearance on Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle album, truly helping foster a sense of security in the American people, ultimately helping to jump-start the red-hot 90’s economy. One can point to Bill Clinton’s sound fiscal management or the Internet tech boom just beginning to crop up in the Silicon Valley. But, I attribute it mainly to Nate’s appearance on “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None), a song that brought smiles to millions of young Americans and encouraged them to have promiscuous sex and buy vast quantities of alcohol, two things essential to the twin 90’s boom of latex and liquor.
From 1993 on, Nate Dogg and America were off, engaged in a mutual pact of assistance. Americans would work hard to spur the economy towards never-before-reached heights and Nate Dogg would contribute the singles that would bring smiles to their faces and make life worth living again.
During this fertile period in the mid-90s until the year 2000, Nate Dogg appeared on an incredible list of hit singles and undeniably catchy and fun songs, including 2Pac’s “All About U,”
Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode,” and “Xxplosive,” Eminem’s “Bitch Please II,” Kurupt’s “Girls All Pause,” Mos Def and Pharoahe Monche’s “Oh No,” (perhaps my favorite rap single of the decade), Snoop Dogg’s “Bitch Please,” and Tha Dogg Pound’s “Let’s Play House.”
But it was his partnership with Warren G that truly helped to spur the American nation to its ten year run of seemingly limitless peace and prosperity. With songs like “Regulate,” “The Game Don’t Wait,” and “Nobody Does It Better,” the team of Warren G and Nate Dogg pretty much had everything figured out.
And yet suddenly, after the attacks of 9/11, as the nation has plunged into an indefinitely lengthy period of uncertainty and existential crisis, Nate Dogg was nowhere to be found, not dropping even one classic single. One can bring up Ludacris’ December ’01 hit, “Area Codes,” but I believe it to be a mere blip on the radar. Is it any coincidence that the single dropped the same month as our completion with the initial fighting in Afghanistan? A time when we thought we had solved this problem with Islamic fundamentalism with one swift chop of the enemy’s head? I think not.
Oh sure, Nate Dogg has appeared on a few songs during the dark period that followed, but they all have been terrible: Eminem’s inspid “Shake That,” 50 Cent’s ridiculously insincere “21 Questions,” Houston’s atrocious “I Like That,” and L’il Jon’s catastrophic “Bitches Ain’t Shit.” Not one has resonated the same way that his earlier works did. None have managed to slap Americans out of their state of lethargy
It’s obvious that the nation’s fortunes rise and fall with Nate Dogg, leading one to wonder what’s next or as Warren G might say, “What’s N-X-E-T”?
Will Nate Dogg ever drop another classic single? Will we ever escape this malaise? Will we ever smile again? I can’t be sure. The salad days of classic Nate Dogg singles dropping like rain are probably over (and if you don’t believe me listen to “Shake That” a few dozen times).
Yet there is still hope. Now is the time for Nate Dogg to enter a new phase of his career: the world of politics. The man is a natural. The pictures I’ve posted clearly prove his ability to keep a poker face. He has an impressive track record of boosting the economy. He’s a national icon beloved by millions. But most importantly, Nate Dogg posesses the crucial ability to say completely ridiculous things and yet instead of offending people, no one even bats an eyelash.
After all, this is a man who once sang “When I met you last night baby, Before you opened up your gap/I had respect for ya lady/But now I take it all back/Because you gave me all your pussy and you even licked my balls.”
But in spite of these unbelivably filthy lyrics, it never stopped millions of sorority girls across America from singing along every time the song comes on. Or examine his words from “Girls All Pause,” where Nate claimed that “he had ten girls who pay me just so they can lay me.”
Bill Clinton couldn’t even get away with one girl who din’t pay him to lay him. Who better than Nate Dogg to deliver the news and truths that people don’t want to hear? Not only will they accept any unpleasant fact that comes out his soothing baritone voice, but they’ll probably dance to it too. So the next time, you hear some yahoo endorsing John Edwards Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, John McCain, Rudy Giulani, et. al…Look them in the eyes and tell them who you’re supporting. The only man with a proven record of success. Nate Dogg in 08. After all, nobody does it better.