For the past five years, give or take, I have talked extensively with my friends about how I wanted to start a classic hip-hop station. I wasn’t sure if it existed elsewhere but in Atlanta it was a hole worth filling. The radio has been plagued with generic pop, bad rap, and classic rock stations that are like watching reruns of Seinfeld (sure I love them, but I know every episode and its getting kind of old). Well once “97.9 the OG” launched, it wasn’t long till I was blowing up with texts. “Looks like someone beat you to the punch.” Or “Hey you have to check out this new classic hip-hop station, it’s incredible.” So the next time I found myself in the car, I tuned to see if this station could possibly match my long time, well-crafted playlist. They didn’t disappoint. Bringing me everything I could have wanted and more. Starting in the late 80’s and going all the way to the early 2000’s, this station brought me classic after classic. I was hooked. I found myself taking the long way home, enjoying traffic, and just loving being in the car listening to all these throwback songs. The more I listened the more that one voice became a constant. It’s a voice that has been missing from the modern hip-hop world. A voice in my opinion is the heart and soul of the classic hip-hop sound. So this is a toast, to the late great Nate Dogg.
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Though Nate Dogg had a fine career and has created a discography worth listening to, when I refer to him as the heart and soul of classic hip-hop, I am referring to the songs he’s featured on. His sounds and style were so unique and incredible that it could accompany any rapper out there. With close to 60 different tracks he’s been featured on, Nate Dogg comes through my speakers almost every time I tune into this new radio station. Some of the highlights are songs like: Area Code (by Ludacris), Can’t Deny It (by Fabulous), Next Episode (by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg), Regulate (by Warren G), 21 Questions (by 50 Cent), I like That (by Houston), Till I Collapse (by Eminem) and Gangsta Nation (by Westside Connection). And that’s just scraping the surface of the epic list of features Nate Dogg has been a part of.
There are certain aspects to hip-hop that help map the growth of the genre. When Rick Ruben and Russell Simons added heavy bass to the songs they were producing for artists like Run DMC and The Beastie Boys, game changer. When Dr. Dre mastered the G-Funk sound and created a quintessential west coast feel, game changer. There’s so many different characters in the history of hip-hop that are worth mentioning but as I drive around listening to this radio station I realize that there is one that should be talked about more. If you wanted a voice that would be hard and soulful at the same time, you called Nate Dogg. If you wanted a laidback, infectious voice, you called Nate Dogg. Basically if you wanted a massive hit, you called Nate Dogg. He is clearly missed, and there is obviously a piece missing in modern hip-hop. So if you find yourself tuning in to this new radio station or jamming to the classics anywhere, keep an ear out of that spectacular voice. You’re bound to hear it.