15 Years Ago, Nate Dogg & Pharoahe Monch Made a Pledge To The Funk (Audio)
Nearly 16 years ago to the date, Rawkus Records dropped Lyricist Lounge 2, a compilation album featuring – among others – the Notorious B.I.G., Big L, Guru, Q-Tip, and Royce 5’9″; not to mention production from J Dilla, DJ Premier, Madlib, Hi-Tek, and so on and so forth. But the standout track is arguably “Oh No,” a bicoastal affair that paired up New Yorkers Mos Def and Pharoahe Monch with the unofficial mayor of Long Beach, California, the incomparable Nate Dogg. Produced by Rockwilder, the record spawned memorable lines like Mos’s “have the women in your mama’s church screamin’ ‘Lord Jesus!'” and Monch’s “MCs just come on ’round/You’re the next contestants on ‘Catch a Beat Down.'” The chemistry between the three artists was palpable and the juxtaposition of gritty East Coast delivery with Nate’s endlessly smooth Los Angeles crooning was magical, and it seems at least two walked away from recording with another collaboration already brewing.
On December 4, 2001, Nate Dogg released Music & Me, his second solo effort. Featuring Dr. Dre (“Your Wife”), Tha Eastsidaz (“Ditty Dum Ditty Doo”), Kurupt (“Can’t Nobody”), and Xzibit (“Keep It G.A.N.G.S.T.A.”), Nate kept the project close to home in many ways, but the LP was also a triumphant exercise in uniting all coasts. Ludacris appeared on “Real Pimp,” and Jermaine Dupri on “Ring the Alarm (Your Woman Has Just Been Sighted),” infusing the album with some Southern decadence. Fabolous (who appeared on the remix to the single “I Got Love”), Angie Martinez (“One Night Stand,” a bonus track), Lil’ Mo (“Keep It G.A.N.G.S.T.A.”), and Pharoahe Monch stepped in as east siders of another variety, and with the latter, “I Pledge Allegance” was born.
The re-pairing of Nate and Monch this go around provided Heads with a slightly different theme as compared to “Oh No,” a bona fide step-up-your-game call to action for wack MCs. “I Pledge Allegiance,” however, is a classic serving of Nate Dogg’s trademark street-hustler bravado, replete with references to paperchasin’, hos, and the “gangsta” lifestyle. As such, Monch’s appearance may have been surprising to Nate Dogg fans, who understood Monch as a predominantly “conscious” MC. However, what is the clear uniting force between the two is, quite simply, the funk. As Nate sings on the hook, “I, give my body and I give my soul to the funk/May the funk never end,” a sentiment echoed by Monch when he rhymes “Ride for the funk, cry for the funk/In the heat of night, I die for the funk.” Heads may recall that Mel-Man also produced the “I Pledge Allegiance (Intro),” a slightly demonic homage to, yes, the funk.
Earlier this year marked the 5th anniversary of Nate Dogg’s passing. Heads can revisit the late icon’s unmatched talents by watching this rarely seen freestyle footage of his.