If you listen to rap music, chances are you’ve fallen in love with a Nate Dogg chorus. Even if you hardly ever listen to rap, you’ve probably found yourself signing along with the legendary West Coast crooner at some point in your life. His impact on modern music has been profound as he has shared the recording booth with everyone from Pac to Mos Def. Despite countless classic hooks and guest spots as well as some strong solo material, no DJ has ever tackled a best of Nate mixtape…until now.
Read on as The Crew’s DJ Sorce-1 gets the lowdown on the making of DJ Steve1der’s Nate In ’08, the first ever, all Nate Dogg mix.
TSS: Before we get things started, well done on the Nate in ’08 mix. I’ve had the idea to do a tape like that for a while, but you beat me to the punch. I’m a little bit jealous.
DJ Steve1der: (Laughs) That’s funny because it was on my plate for a minute and I finally had the time and piece of mind to do it recently. I’m glad I was finally able to finish it.
TSS: When I first listened to the mix, I was expecting it to be focused on his radio hits and guest spots. I like how you kept a balance between his recognizable stuff and his more obscure material. You were able to pull it off without the quality of the music hurting.
DJ Steve1der: I definitely wanted to make the mix his best work but at the same time make it interesting. I’m not up on all of his material, especially his solo stuff. Luckily I have some friends who put me up on some of his lesser known joints that were featured on the mix. I was glad to get a full CD worth of quality material and have it mostly be him and not too many of the other artists that he has worked with.
TSS: Do you own any of Nate’s solo albums?
DJ Steve1der: I have the 213 album The Hard Way, which is really slept on. It didn’t get much credit in the mainstream. I have some of the singles off of his Music and Me album, but I never really got into the album itself.
TSS: What equipment did you use to put the tape together?
DJ Steve1der: I did it in Serato. I used a few actual vinyl 12”’s like “Nobody Does It Better”, but most of the music came from vinyl that I ripped into Serato. I record in Ableton now and this is one of the first full mixtapes I’ve made with it.
TSS: A lot of DJ’s have mixed feelings on the whole Serato and Ableton revolution. Can you talk about what those programs allow you to do musically as a mixtape artist? What do they do to help you expand your abilities as a DJ?
DJ Steve1der: I promote using technology like Serato and I think it’s great. Like any advance in technology, it’s going to have its pros and cons. It helps me organize everything so much more quickly and easily. I think the mix took me about a week to knock out. To get things started I did a search in Serato and made a sub crate of all the Nate stuff I had. That is a lot faster than having to dig through all of my crates looking for old singles. Serato helps speed the process up, especially if you have an idea of where you want to go.
TSS: It also allows people to work with a wider range of material. If you don’t own a hard copy of something but want to use the song because you think it will really fill out your mix, it enables you to do that.
DJ Steve1der: Yeah. I was at my boy Mike B’s crib in LA and I mentioned I was making a best of Nate Dogg tape. He put me on to some of my favorite songs on the mix like “G Funk”. If Serato wasn’t around and we weren’t able to trade files, it could have delayed the making of the final product or made the mix less complete. I think peoples main complaints about Serato and products like that are what they do for other people. Sometimes it enables people to advance more rapidly than back in the day. It’s easier to get noticed as a DJ nowadays with all the new technology. I don’t mind because I feel like real talent, concepts, and ideas shine through the bullshit.
TSS: It sounds like you had the idea to make this mix before Nate’s recent second stroke. Did you decide to pull the trigger and do the project after the news of the stroke as a kind of dedication to him?
DJ Steve1der: I’ve had the concept for a long time and even before his first stroke. I worked in Las Vegas for the first half of this year and it really consumed all of my time. Once I stopped in June and got back to my studio I felt like I had to knock something out that people would like and I would enjoy making. The first thing that came to mind was doing a Nate mix since it’d been on the back burner for a while.
I finally made the decision to do it. It’s been done for a minute; the issue has been getting the artwork done. It seems like in this mixtape game the artwork is always the hardest part to finish for some reason. I felt that after his second stroke it was time to get it out. It didn’t get leaked per se, but it got in the hands of some people who posted it online. It’s already at 20,000 downloads which is unreal to me. I don’t know how it has that many. But I’m glad its out and I’m glad that many people have it.
TSS: I’ve been shooting the ZShare link to everyone. What are your thoughts on such a work intensive project being downloaded for free?
DJ Steve1der: Believe me, I’m a blogger. I check blogs constantly and download plenty of mixes. I’d like to sell some copies and want to get the mix officially pressed up. One of my favorite DJ’s is Jaycee from Atlanta. He has the Eargasm series and they’re so tight. He just throws them up there for free. When I saw that he was making such quality stuff and giving it out for free I realized that I can’t be stingy with my mixes. That’s just where things are nowadays. I went to Clinton Sparks website the other day and he has so many mixes I can’t even keep count. He has them all up there for free download. It’s just how it is.
TSS: Do you have an all-time favorite Nate hook?
DJ Steve1der: Fuckin’ aye man! That’s like asking who your favorite producer or rapper is. There are too many to count. It’s hard to say. When I was making the CD it would always change. I lucked out that nobody had ever done a Nate CD before. Nobody has done a Nate mix and he had so much great material to work with. I didn’t have to put stuff I wasn’t feeling in the mix to fill time.
I kept changing my mind about what his hottest shit was during the making of the mix. I like his early shit. It was actually weird to make the CD and realize how much shit he wasn’t on over the years. I looked back at The Chronic and he was only on one song, “Deez Nuts”. I was kind of surprised when I realized he only made it on one cut off that album. He didn’t even really have a hook; he just sings at the end of the song. “Deez Nuts” is one of my favorites. “Dolla Dolla Bill” is dope and “Ain’t No Fun” is another favorite because it’s so timeless.
TSS: That early Snoop shit that he was on sounds fresh today. If you throw “Ain’t No Fun” on at a party people still go wild.
DJ Steve1der: I actually played it at a wedding last week…that’s how universal that shit is. I played it towards the end for all the young cats. It still killed it man. If the party’s cracking everyone is going to sing Nate’s hook. Nate’s not going anywhere music wise. The classics that he’s on keep moving through the generations. I’m about to be 30 next year. I’m getting older as a DJ and I’m seeing a younger generation, but his shit still sounds fresh to the younger people. They may not be up on his whole catalogue, but Nate’s classics like “Next Episode” and “Bitch Please” are undeniable.
TSS: Do you have a funniest Nate Dog lyric that you can think of?
DJ Steve1der: On E-40’s “Nah, Nah” he says, “I’m so elated.” It’s so funny for some reason, just the way he says it. On “Game Don’t Wait” he has a line where he says, “Thanks for the vagina”. It’s the funniest shit ever. It’s so absurd but so funny and you can’t help but laugh. I mean, he’s a dog. He’s Nate Dogg. It wouldn’t make sense if he wasn’t singing about stuff like that. Those two are the funniest to me.
TSS: (Laughs) I haven’t heard the vagina line.
DJ Steve1der: I think he rhymes reminder with vagina. You can hear Kurupt in the background doing an adlib, saying, “Thanks girl.” It’s just so funny. At one point in time, that whole Death Row crew was unstoppable. They were just hit machines. Nate’s definitely an understated member of all that. You hear people talk a lot about Pac, Dre, and even Suge, but you don’t always hear people talk about Nate.
TSS: It’s crazy how much talent was on Death Row during the 90’s. I think Nate kind of got lost in the shuffle early on. Thankfully he stuck with it and his career kept going post Death Row. He branched out and worked with a lot of other people like Luda, 50 Cent, Mos Def and Pharoahe Monch.
DJ Steve1der: Yeah. One of his best quotes comes from “Oh No” when he says, “If you wanna make a hit, give me a call.” He was running shit. We remember those days before Akon and T-Pain. Maybe when people read this piece they’ll argue someone else who came before Nate who was the original hook artist. If there is someone else, let me know. I feel like he originated this shit. The hook man has become its own sort of profession in the music world and I think Nate really created that.
TSS: I co-sign that statement 100 percent. Alright Steve, take care and thanks for doing the interview.
DJ Steve1der: Before we cut this off, I’d like to shout out Shade Shiest. I went to junior high and high school with him. He got a hold of Nate in 08 and got it through a few portholes that have helped it get some love.
For more info, visit www.myspace.com/steve1der.