Nate Dogg “Free My Soul” [May 2011 Magazine Story Excerpt]

When he was 14, Nate’s parents divorced, and he relocated to Long Beach, California, with his mom and five siblings. Acclimating to the land of palm trees, hip-hop and gangbangers, Nate attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School, where he met Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. a.k.a. Snoop Doggy Dogg.

Influenced by the likes of LL Cool J, Run-DMC and Special Ed, Nate and Snoop would trade rhymes in the back of the gym. “We were 16 at the time,” Nate told author Nina Bhadrehwar early in his career. “I could rap, but not as good as Snoop could, so I’d sing and make hooks for what he was rapping about.”

In 2004, Nate Dogg told Vice magazine that he wrote his early songs at his grandmama’s house, on Lime Avenue. “My idols were Marvin, Stevie, Maurice White from Earth, Wind & Fire,” he said, “but I was also into Thompson Twins’ ‘Hold Me Now’—I listened to it all.

“I remember sitting up in my room, writing melodies. I didn’t know nothing. I was on some New Edition shit. The first song I wrote was called ‘Baby Darling Darling Girl,’ and you know what’s funny? It went, ‘Baby darling/Darling girl/I really love your Jheri Curl.’ I thought it was tight as hell.”

Nate joined the Marines for three years after high school. He was dishonorably discharged, though, after a bizarre incident in which he held his then-girlfriend and his cousin captive for two days, after finding them in bed together. Returning to Long Beach in 1991, he got back together with Snoop and another homeboy, Warren G., and formed a trio named after their local area code, 213.

“Those guys always supported one another,” says Los Angeles–based publicist Gwendolyn Priestley, who became friendly with Nate in 1998, when he launched a solo career on Breakaway Records. “The bond between all those guys was always so tight. They were like a fraternity.”
It’s an oft-retold story: the night that Warren G. played a tape of 213 at a house party and his stepbrother, Dr. Dre, who’d recently split from N.W.A and Ruthless Records, found himself entranced by Snoop’s smoky voice. Snoop and Dre would form the musical nexus that launched Death Row Records, and Nate, along with folks like Daz and Kurupt, RBX, and the Lady of Rage, became a part of the crew.

On the phone from her home in Los Angeles, Rage remembers her old friend. “Nate wasn’t much of a talker,” she says. “But he had a smile that could light up a room. When it came down to work, he was a complete professional. One minute he’d be playing video games, and the next he was putting his cool voice on tape. He developed his signature sound, and people from everywhere began to notice and sought him out.”


Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • bangaroo

    xxlmag stays with the exclusive! NICKI MINAJ SEX TAPE LEAKED!!

  • Q461

    Of course no comments on this yet. Youngins don’t even know.

    This man is responsible for countless hip-hop classics and has recorded with everyone from Luda to Em to 50 to Snoop. RIP to one of the greats. Akon and T-Pain (although dope at times) will never bless a hook like Nate did.

    • Iboughtmynatedoggshirtdidyou

      thanks for saying everything the post just said.

  • Roe

    Serious beats for Serious artists @

  • Dead President

    damn… cant believe homeboy’s gone… . dammmm. hit the deck spinnin ol nate, matter fact he got the hook right NOW, damnn a true banger-maker 4real death row days my fav work of his wat a melody he bring .

    R.I.P my man . NATE 213 .

  • Dead President


    …what’s wrong with the game these days hip-hop ‘fans’ slippin. guess times really have changed the minds of urban music listeners, seems ppl got it fucked up or forgetting the legends and artists who helped build what it is today (not that todays music’s a good thing) wtf .!

  • summerhill ga

    never be another with the smoothness…i pray that his final expenses and remaing expenses will be settled by those “that love him” in the industry.