Talk about putting in work! Over the past few years, Nate Dogg has become hip-hop’s most valuable sixth-man, coming off the bench to lace more pinch-hit singles then Minnie Minoso. So many in fact, that finding Nate’s ubiquitous smoky alto on a hook has become almost as commonplace as a Neptunes production credit.
While Nate has created quite a lucrative niche for himself, he is seemingly back at square one with his major label debut Music And Me. Reason being, after being placed on the proverbial backburner, and relegated to mop up duties at Death Row, Nate did an admirable job of creating his own identity on his self-released double-disc endeavor G-Funk Classics (Vol. 1 & 2). Yet, Nate’s calling card as a hitman for hire has become a double-edged sword, as similar to his breakout performance on Warren G’s “Regulate”, Nate is now fighting to disprove the stereotype that his soulful twang is best prescribed in short doses.
Unfortunately, beyond “Another Short Story”, Music And Me, does little to contradict these sentiments, as collaborations with Pharaohe Monch (“I Pledge Allegiance”), Fabolous & B.R.E.T.T. (“I Got Love Remix”), and a Britney Spears bashing Xzibit on “Keep It G.A.N.G.S.T.A.” all illustrate that Nate effectiveness increases when he abides to a strict sixteen-bar contribution from—add your favorite emcee’s name of choice. Also, like most soul crooners who adhere closely to hip-hop’s principals of pleasure, the high profile list of producers Nate enlists (Dr. Dre, Jermaine Dupri, Battlecat, Bink, and Megahertz) fail to cater their random sounds to Nate’s strengths as a vocalist. And the fact that Nate is a soul-singer, and not an emcee, is lost in the mix, as the blend of slow and high tempo numbers offered here are more suited to the latter.
Nate’s swift resurgence obviously played a part in this LP being rushed for mass consumption. However, its evident that his soothing vocals, and luminous beats (not to mention record sales) would have greatly benefited from a spring release. Yet, what could have been sublime background music for street parties and barbecue’s coast-to-coast in the spring of 2002, will in all likelihood be forgotten by the first thaw.
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