Any rap fan or child of the '90s worth their salt knows a thing or two about Nate Dogg.
But the late hip-hop star, who passed away yesterday due to complications from multiple strokes, is much more than the sum of his hits (of which, let it be known, there were plenty).
So, from his surprising past to his frequent collaborators to his time in uniform to his debilitating health problems, here are the five things you need to know about this mourned music master:
1. Everything He Touched Turned to Gold Platinum: Of this there can be no dispute: Nate Dogg had a knack for making hits, though you could be forgiven for not realizing it, as the four-time Grammy nominee was often overshadowed by his more famous collaborators. And while he certainly achieved solo success, it's his seminal collaborations that will be most remembered for their lasting influence on the West Coast rap scene: from his work on Dr. Dre's The Chronic, to 1995's now iconic G-funk anthem "Regulate" with Warren G, to Tupac's "All Eyez On Me," to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's "The Next Episode," to Ludacris' "Area Codes" to Eminem's "Shake That," Nate was the industry's go-to rapper.
2. He Was One of the Few, One of the Proud: When he was just 16 years old, Nate, whose real name was Nathaniel Hale, dropped out of Long Beach Polytechnic High School and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He served for three years before returning to the LBC, where he hooked up with Snoop and Warren G to start the rap trio 213 (named in honor of their area code). They soon caught the ear of Dr. Dre (that he's Warren G's stepbrother couldn't have hurt) and the rest is history.
3. He Was Plagued by Health Problems: While the family confirmed to their local paper that Nate Dogg passed away, no exact cause of death was immediately announced. But this morning, his longtime attorney Mark Geragos said that the rapper died Tuesday from complications due to multiple strokes. He suffered debilitating strokes in 2007 and 2008; the former left him partially paralyzed and suffering partial memory loss (though he eventually cognitively recovered), and the latter left him temporarily on life support and with a feeding tube.
Over the weekend, Warren G. even tweeted an update on his pal, letting fans know that Nate was in therapy and thanked well-wishers for their support.
4. He Had His Problems With the Law: Back in 2006, one of Nate's ex-girlfriends brought a domestic violence complaint against him, accusing the rapper of aggravated trespass, battery, telephone harassment, violating a restraining order and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime after breaking into the Newport Beach home occupied by his former partner and her new beau. According to police reports of the incident, once inside, he punched the man in the face and left. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to aggravated trespass and battery and was sentenced to three years' informal probation.
In 2009, he was arrested on suspicion of felony stalking after his partner claimed he had threatened her life and chased her down the freeway. The rapper pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the case was ultimately dropped.
5. He's Already Deeply Missed: Shortly after news of his death broke, his friends, fans and collaborators began flooding Twitter with messages of remembrance. First out of the gate was Snoop, who lamented, "We lost a true legend n hip hop n rnb. One of my best friends n a brother to me since 1986 when I was a sophomore at poly high where we met…I love u buddy luv…RIP NATE DOGG."
His sentiments were echoed by Ludacris, Erykah Badu, The Game, Xzibit and more, while Warren G and Eminem were readying statements to release later this morning. Nate's brother Samuel even appeared on Los Angeles' KDAY FM early this morning and while he declined to discuss the specifics of his brother's death, he said he felt "numb" by the unexpected passing. RIP, Nate Dogg.