Wednesday, May 11, 2011
RIP Nate Dogg
RIP Nate Dogg. (I have no idea Herbie Miakle is.)
Okay, I'm a little late to the Nate Dogg funeral. Sorry. But after prolonged mourning, I can now pour a little of my 40 oz. out on the curb and pay tribute to one of the key members of the G-Funk Era.
In 1992, like almost every other white male suburbanite between the ages of 13 and 24, I bought a copy of The Chronic. Having parents that were VERY conservative meant this album—that dropped more swears than a drunken George Carlin—got the Anne Frank treatment. I hid this thing in ceiling tiles, mattresses and at one point duct taped it to the back of a toilet tank in an Italian restaurant.
But it was worth it.
Engrossed in the word play, the production and the ability to sound unlike every other rap album previously released is what kept Dr. Dre's album in my CD Walkman™for months. You've got the slow whine of creaky keyboards on nearly every track, long forgotten Parliment samples and an amazing mix of real instruments—which many people don't realize or take for granted. (There's more flute on this record than a Jethro Tull greatest hits collection, go back and listen to it.) Weaving all this together before the use of Pro Tools must have been incredibly arduous.
This album not only introduced us to this unique sound, that would later go on to define a huge transition in rap, it also introduced most of America to Nate Dogg, Snoop Dogg and the D.O.C. Before this record Snoop was selling coke and drifting back and forth between prison and gang life. Think about it, can you imagine a world without Snoop Dogg today? He's in Pepsi commercials, he's appeared in over 40 TV shows and movies, and has made 11 records in the 19 years. Not bad for somebody who was once on trial for murder.
While Dre produced one hell of a record, Snoop Dogg was the undeniable star of this record. He has more memorable lines in one song than Dre has on the rest of the album. This was Dre's biggest chance to cash in ever. How much confidence did it take for him to take a chance on an unknown rapper and member of the Crips? Without this record, Snoop would probably be dead. And without Snoop, Dre would be producing Debbie Gibson records in Bangladesh.
And speaking of big, this was also the biggest tribute to weed we'd ever seen. Sure marijuana got it's fair share of repping in hip-hop before this record but Dr. Dre went over the top with it—the physical CD has an enormous pot leaf on it and, again, the album is called "The Chronic"! Counting the weed references would be like counting gravel at a quarry. This album might as well have come with a case of weed lung and a pack of Zig Zags.
To a 14 year old, this record had everything—dirty lyrics, an unmatched swagger, hatin', a handful of hazy, drunk and drug fueled videos, and a sound that didn't fit into anything else in the rap.
So RIP Nate Dogg and RIP G-Funk Era.