Nathaniel D. Hale, the hip-hop star who rose to fame in the 1990s as Nate Dogg, died Tuesday, according to his family. He was 41.
The cause of death was due to complications from multiple strokes, his attorney Mark Geragos told the Associated Press Wednesday. The singer had suffered a debilitating stroke in 2007 that had reportedly left him paralyzed on his left side. Hale suffered a second stroke in 2008.
Lending a lush, round baritone to gritty hip-hop hooks, Hale was a highly visible proponent of the West Coast wave of G-Funk ("gangsta" funk) pioneered by Death Row records in the 1990s. He collaborated with hip-hop luminaries such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Ludacris.
"We lost a true legend n hip hop n rnb," Snoop Dogg tweeted Tuesday. "One of my best friends n a brother to me since 1986 when I was a sophomore at poly high where we met."
The son of a pastor, Hale grew up singing in baptist churches and dropped out of high school at 16 to join the Marines. After three years of service, he teamed with fellow Californians Snoop Dogg and Warren G to form the trio 213, named for the Los Angeles area code.
Hale's big break came when he was tapped by Dr. Dre to appear on the landmark 1992 album "The Chronic," a critical and commercial smash.
The popularity of his turn on "The Chronic" led to a recording contract at Death Row Records the following year, where he would produce his first hit, "Regulate," with Warren G in 1994.
Never a solo star in his own right, Hale laid his soulful vocals over several hits, including Tupac Shakur's "All Eyez On Me" and Snoop Dogg's "Never Leave Me Alone."
He was a four-time Grammy nominee, earning his first nod in 1995 for "Regulate," followed by another in 2001 for providing a laid-back hook to the Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg tune "The Next Episode."
He was tapped again in 2002 for singing on Ludacris' "Area Codes" and in 2007 for his contribution to Eminem's "Shake That."
The Hip-Hop Community Mourns
Hale's rapid rise to stardom was not entirely without difficulties. He was arrested in 2002 in Arizona on charges of firearms and drug offenses, to which he pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to probation and community service, and ordered to take drug counseling.
Hale appeared the same year on a celebrity episode of "Weakest Link" before he was eliminated by Xzibit and Young MC.
The hip-hop community reacted with a strong outpouring of emotion to the news of Hale's unexpected death.
"There is a certain void in hip hop's heart that can never be filled," Ludacris tweeted. "Glad we got to make history together."
Erykah Badu said he was "freshness period. rest in beats."
But perhaps none were hit quite so hard as Snoop Dogg and Daz Dillinger, fellow members of an extended rap family known as the Dogg Pound Gangsta Crips.
"R.I.P. TO MY HOMEBOY NATE DOGG DPGC DOGG POUND GANGSTA 4 LIFE," Daz Dillinger tweeted.
Snoop Dogg concluded with the sentiment, "All doggs go to heaven."