Two years is an eternity in hip-hop, especially for rappers arriving at the tail end of a trend. Such is the case with Nate Dogg
, a talented rapper who first made waves on Warren G
's seminal "Regulate" in 1993 and then signed a solo contract shortly afterward. If he had been able to deliver his debut album, G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1
, in 1995/early 1996 like he intended, he may have been a major star. Instead, the album was shelved due to legal problems at Death Row Records, and he wasn't able to release the album until the summer of 1998. By that time, the record had become a double-disc set named G-Funk Classics, Vols. 1 & 2
, and perhaps more importantly, gangsta rap, particularly West Coast G-funk, had diminished in popularity. It was a case of bad timing, pure and simple -- G-Funk Classics
sounded dated, and its bloated running length made it seem even more of a dinosaur than it actually was. And that's all too bad, because Nate Dogg has a wonderful, jazzy vocal style that's terrific to hear. If he had fresh productions, his raps would have sounded kinetic and alive; instead, they sound like canned gangsta rap. The album would have been helped immeasurably by a little editing -- there are a handful of great cuts scattered across these two discs, but it takes too much effort to track them down. That, combined with the delay, prevented G-Funk Classics
from being the explosive debut it could have been.