Nathaniel Dwayne Hale, better known as Nate Dogg, is the cousin of established artist, Snoop Dogg, and here gets his first solo album after apperances on other albums such as Dr.Dre's The Chronic. Supposedly coming from his cell on Death Row, the album is made up of several tracks intended to illustrate the true nature of G-Funk! It is a bit of a strange album that never quite seemed to gel for me and really doesn't ever quite come together as a complete whole, instead feeling like a lot of individual tracks that, to my ears, sounded fragmented like pieces of seperate jigsaws fitted together in an attempt to make a picture!
There is not a single track here that really stands out tomme or appeals and, listening to this, I am convinced that G-Funk as a genre is something I am never going to appreciate! IU have liked sdome of his cameos in the past but as a solo artist, Nate just doesn't do it at all for me! I understand that this album is an attempt for him to stand on his own two feet and distance himself from the notoriety and infamy of his better known cousin, Snoop, but it doesn't work for me at all and this is one album that has never been among my favourites. Maybe it is because it is not comercial enough for me and a bit more specialised to the sounds I generally listen to but for me, this is a complete no-no that has no redeeming moments whatsoever!
Nate Dogg came with his debut solo album (after featuring on records from the likes of Snoop Doggy Dogg, Warren G and Dr. Dre) in 1997. It finds the artist showing that G-Funk isn't limited to just Rap and R&B, Soul and even Gospel-styled work adapts well to that sort of fly production as he hits fans with "G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1".
1. "Hardest Man in Town"
He gets the album off with this one as we get the first chance to see what solo Nate Dogg material sounds like. We find that he maintains that smooth G-Funk stuff where the production is concerned, and we see that he comes up with vocals in his verses which reflect the way he came up with hooks for tracks on key albums in early nineties West Coast Rap. I felt that it was a great way to kick things off.
2. "Intro To G-Funk" (Lude)
After a quick interlude that places us in 'Death Row' (the record label Nate was on at the time). Here we have a straight-up funky jam and one that has him showing just how much love he has for this sub-genre in the Hip Hop game and how it seems to perfectly match this Long Beach, Californians musical tastes and what he's about. The tune is a nice groovy one that is open for all to get down with.
4. "First We Play"
On this one we get a feature comign from Kurupt (of Tha Dogg Pound) and with this expected collaboration, it seems as though we get the first chance to see how Nate's work doesn't quite sound right and really, he only sounds right when he's restricted to singing on hooks and his harmonies on verses really don't sound too good at all and when compared to other R&B singer, sounds massively underdeveloped. Although in this case it makes for a pretty good one.
5. "My World"
I thought that this was a big one from the album, and an unexpectedly good solo piece from him as we see that he comes through with more of the simplistic structures when it comes to the way he composes his vocal harmonies, but makes sure that it sounds memorable in the process and so much of it will stick with you as he comes out with a jam that has him rhyming about his idyllic world.
6. "Crazy, Dangerous" (Lude)
7. "These Days"
After a short one that was designed to bridge tunes together, we get a single from him and one that seems to follow-on well from the last full track on the thing as we see just how well he comes out with melodies that grab your attention and force you to engage with the material. Unfortunately the basic and simple rhymes that he comes up with hold it back a little, but it is all I wanted out of him as he works with Daz Dillinger.
8. "Bag O'Weed"
For this one we have him coming to work with another big name out on the Eastside of Long Beach as Tray Deee (who would form part of Tha Eastsidaz with Goldie Loc and Snoop Dogg. Here we get a pretty standard piece and so I'd have to say that really, not much has happened up to this point on the album, when you here the same sort of approach from him on the rest, Nate's plain ways aren't enough to hold it together.
9. "Dirty H**'s Draws"
We get more of that windy synth for this one as we are set in some of the typical G-Funk sounds of the time and from it we see that Nate manages to pull out a track that's simply on the album for comic relief. Here he works with Big Chcuk and a smooth Jodeci sample is thrown in there to come out with something fresh that just makes it all sound complete. This one isn't to be taken seriously, but if you do then you will never like a thing from it.
10. "Scared of Love"
Here he picks things up a little, and forces you into a two-stepping sway that you won't be able to come out of as we see that we get one that has him sing an emotive one that sees him showing much more of who he is as a person. Here he opens up with a little something that has him singing on why exactly he can't engage himself in long-term relationships and what puts him off such commitments that come with it.
11. "Me & My Homies"
Here we get a big-name collaborator providing some rap vocals on this one as we see that with this one we have Nate Dogg getting a little posthumous assistance from 2Pac. On this one we see that we get a straight-forward relaxing tune that is feel-good in nature and so you really just can't hate on it and you have to get down with it. 2Pac may change the feel of it, but overall this is the prevailing feel of it.
12. "Because I Got A Girl"
We get our first real change of direction with this one as after lots of low-paced tunes, we see that here he gets up on some freaky breaks that seem to shift the direction of things a little and show that Nate is capable of much more than all that he has given so far. Here he sings about how he never restricts himself when he's in a relationship and always has a little space for others if they want it.
13. "My Money"
For this one we get the Funk flowing through nicely as we see that he sticks to more of the kind of thing that sounds as if it was recorded more towards the later end of the recording process (when you consider that material taken from around 1995 was included here too). With this, Nate manages to do a great job at blasting out something that could show that he was relevant to the contemporary R&B scene and didn't have to be seen as nothing more than a hookman.
14. "Never Leave Me Alone"
This was another of the singles from the record and one that sees Nate joined by Snoop. I felt that it was nice to see him coming to contribute to the thing. However, when you listen to the results of what came of things here, it makes you wonder why they didn't try again to make a hit out of such a collaboration as this one is simply awful, and was probably only a single because of Snoop's feature.
15. "Last Prayer" (Lude)
16. "Where Are You Going?"
He ends the album off on this one as he hits us with a smooth, low-paced one as we get back to the sort of feel that we got from the start of the album and all that had to offer. The thing doesn't off much by itself and really doesn't suit being an outro to the album in that it sounds as though it needs much more around it for it to actually have any purpose on the record. It's a pretty average ender, but a fitted way to close it off.
Although I have to say that I enjoyed much of this album, Nate Dogg doing solo work doesn't really sound as though it should ever have really happened. It really did nothing when you look at what else was going on in the R&B world at the time and it merely acts as an extension of the West Coast Rap movement of the time, and so can't be said to do all that much here.