G-Funk Classics Volume 1 & 2 (Dogg Foundation/Breakaway Entertainment)
After his solo release being put on hiatus for nearly 5 years, due not only to label disputes but also because of him being passed over for other artist's projects, Nate Dogg has hit us with a double CD of pure G-Funk. Depending upon whether or not you're a fan of the G-Funk style, that could be either good or bad. I myself am not the most dedicated G-Funk fan. But for the purpose of this review I will comment objectively since I made sure to listen without prejudice. And after many listening sessions I have drawn this conclusion: Nate Dogg is dope.
After spending years helping other artists attain platinum level status, it's Nate Dogg's turn. At least that's what the advertisements for G Funk Classics say. Having broken all ties from the sunken ship that is Death Row Records, Nate Dogg finds himself as part of the Dogg Foundation, which is part of Breakaway Entertainment. Luckily they made sure to bless him with some talented production because that's the first thing I noticed when I pressed play on the CD changer, the beats. The beats are deep, moody, it's almost as if the beats themselves make the listener evoke feelings and emotions even before Nate Dogg blesses the track with his slow, laidback drawl. But once Nate does get into the vocals, it's apparent that this is one very talented brother. Nate's voice is the sort that could lull you to sleep; providing the listener with gangstafied lullabies or spinning playalistic, pimpified yarns. From the methodic "G-Funk" and "My World" to the melodic "Dirty Hoe's Draws" and "Scared Of Love", Nate Dogg easily flips the script from laidback gangsta to braggadocio playa whenever he feels like it. Thankfully, Nate has included the radio and video friendly "These Days" and "Never Leave Me Alone" on Volume 1--with the former spotlighting a verse from Daz Dillinger and the latter featuring an appearance from No-Limit-soldier-still-in-boot-camp Snoop Dogg. The highlight on Volume 1 is undoubtedly "Me & My Homies"--which features an appearance by the late 2Pac Shakur. Nate Dogg is moody and thoughtful as ever, with 2Pac adding his signature thug presence with a verse that, although isn't the best done by Mr. Makaveli, is vintage 2Pac in theme and feel. Nate Dogg calls Volume 1 "Ghetto Preacher" and I couldn't think of a better name for it.
Volume 2, dubbed "The Prodigal Son," is a very weak attempt to craft a double CD in my opinion. It's almost like Nate Dogg takes on a cause of spite, with the main target being Dr. Dre, Suge Knight and Death Row Records. Throughout Volume 2, he takes cheap shots occasionally at his one time friends and defunct record label. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the very first track, a 7 second track titled "Dedication," where Nate Dogg pines, "This is dedicated to the niggas that was really down from day one, so much for Death Row." From there, Nate Dogg incorporates the aid of his fellow Killa Cali family of Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Daz Dillinger and Kurupt the Kingpin. The first track is a hilarious bust on Dr. Dre titled "Who's Playin' Games?" Nate Dogg recants: "Way back in the day when the hottest thing was jherri curls, when you could always spot a gangster by the way his hair outgrew his girls. There lived a little boy who wore khaki's everyday, he never would be broke, he swore always to be paid. Up jump the boogie, the bang the bang boogie, got them same ol' gangster ways. Up jump the boogie, the bang the bang boogie, I ain't the one to get played." I believe the disputes that Nate Dogg had with Death Row were rooted more with Dr. Dre than with Suge Knight and he was therefore referring to Dr. Dre when he was still part of the World Class Wreckin' Crew. On "I Don't Wanna Hurt No More," a pensive Nate Dogg reflects upon society and how difficult everyday life is. A deep-thinking Nate says: "Man I been thinkin' lately, about the way the world just be changin'. Is it a sin to be chasin' paper, I can't count the niggaz dyin' lately. It's the grave or incarceration, I know you hurt but you can't replace 'em. You go and dig a hole then erase' em, you just created a smaller nation." Nate Dogg flips the script like this routinely on Volume 2. Nevertheless, for many reasons, some petty, some valid, I like Volume 1 more than Volume 2.
All in all, G-Funk Classics Volume 1 & 2 was exactly what I thought it'd be--a pretty good album worth the price of admission. Still, Nate Dogg had 5 years to make this compilation and I expected to be just blown away from his efforts. But in the end, I am pleased to hear from Nate Dogg once again and be allowed to experience G-Funk done by its most seasoned veteran.