July 16, 2015

Nate Dogg - Music and Me (2001)

You might think that an album by a hook artist with rapping on only half the tracks would be mediocre at best. 99% of the time you'd be right. But this is Nate Dogg, not just any old hook singer. He transformed hook singing from the cheap filler that it was on many albums to a high art form, with soul and incredible singing skill. While this shares many components with R&B, hook singing has a few differences, and it carries over on this album. The repetition of phrases, and the perfectly placed pauses and fermatas are typical Nate Dogg. Nate Dogg pours his soul into his work, one of the traits that sets him apart from most hook singers, and he does it because he loves it. It's easy to tell that it wasn't about the money for him. If it was, he would have never released a solo album, as he made far more off features for artists from 2Pac to 50 Cent.

Speaking of features, Nate Dogg pulled in some of the best artists out at the time for this album. Jermaine Dupri unfortunately is the exception to that rule. JD drops a verse at the end of Ring the Alarm, and decides to keep talking as Nate sings the closing hook. JD can be alright sometimes, but his voice and flow really disrupted my enjoyment of the smooth funk of this album, and he's not nearly skilled enough to have made the cut. Luda drops one of his best verses of all time, and I never thought I'd say this, but Dre actually works his verse. Dre's not an incredible rapper, and I think he recognizes this, as he just get's in, drops his verse, and gets out, sort of like a role player in basketball.

G-Funk Classics Vol. 1 & 2 are great to throw on in the background, but Music and Me demands more attention. It's not just tracks thrown together into a compilation, rather it's an ode to music itself, carefully constructed by a master musician. This album is a necessity if you like hip hop or hooks. Nah actually it's a necessity if you like music. RIP Nate Dogg, you are sorely missed.


Music and Me