LOS ANGELES - Singer Nate Dogg, whose near monotone crooning anchored some of rap's most seminal songs and helped define the sound of West coast hip-hop, has died at age 41.
Nate Dogg, whose real name was Nathaniel D. Hale, died Tuesday of complications from multiple strokes, said Attorney Mark Geragos.
Nate Dogg wasn't a rapper, but he was an integral figure in the genre: His deep voice wasn't particularly melodic, but its tone - at times menacing, at times playful, yet always charming - provided just the right touch on hits including Warren G's "Regulate," 50 Cent's "21 Questions," Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode" and countless others.
While Nate Dogg provided hooks for rappers from coast to coast, the Long Beach, Calif., native is best known for his contributions to the West Coast soundtrack provided by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Tha Dogg Pound and more. Nate Dogg was even part of a "supergroup" featuring Snoop Dogg and Warren G, called 213.
Nate Dogg, who had suffered at least two strokes since 2008, also put out his own solo projects but was best known for his collaborations with others.
Last year, Warren G said Nate Dogg was in therapy but needed help.
"Everybody just gotta keep him in their prayers, ‘cause he had two strokes and that's real dangerous. And a lot of people don't come back from that," he said in an interview to HipHollywood. "'Cause the game needs him, I need him."
After word of his death spread, tributes poured in on Twitter.
"We lost a true legend n hip hop n rnb. One of my best friends n a brother to me since 1986 when I was a sophomore at poly high where we met," Snoop Dogg tweeted Tuesday night.
Like Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg got his start on Death Row when he was signed to the groundbreaking label by Dr. Dre. Nate Dogg got his start singing in the local church choir. He dropped out of high school to join the Marines but after three years was dishonorably discharged.
He briefly got involved with the drug trade before forming a musical group with Snoop and Warren G. It was Warren G who was credited with giving their music to Dr. Dre.
Nate Dogg made his debut on Dr. Dre's classic album "The Chronic," and immediately distinguished himself with a trademarked sound: a low, steady croon that came across as intimidating as the rap verses.
His vocals made him one of the most sought after collaborators for rap songs. Fifty Cent, who tapped Nate Dogg for his 2003 love song "21 Questions," tweeted Tuesday: "I wrote the chorus to 21 questions I needed nate to sing it for me. He had a way of making everything feel hard."
Nate Dogg could be heard on songs ranging from Ludacris' "Area Codes" to Tupac Shakur's "All About U" to Eminem's "Shake That." Even as times changed, and rappers came and went, he didn't fall out of fashion.
He faced several legal problems. In 1996, he was acquitted of an armed robbery charge; a jury deadlocked on another and he was not retried. In 2000, Nate Dogg was accused of trying to kidnap an ex-girlfriend, but those charges were dismissed. He pleaded no contest to gun possession and was sentenced to probation.
In January of 2008, he suffered a debilitating stroke but a few months later was arrested for stalking and threatening his estranged wife. He appeared in court in a wheelchair. The charge was dropped a year later.
Nate Dogg spent the last years of his life trying to rebound from his medical problems.
"All dogs go to heaven ... RIP NATE DOGG," tweeted Snoop Dogg.