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Image: Nate Dogg
Frazer Harrison  /  Getty Images
Nate Dogg collaborated with such hip-hop superstars as Eminem and Dr. Dre and was a founding member of the group 213 with Snoop Dogg and Warren G.
updated 3/16/2011 3:55:45 PM ET 2011-03-16T19:55:45

Singer Nate Dogg, whose near monotone crooning anchored some of rap's most seminal songs and helped define the sound of West coast hip-hop, has died at age 41.

Nate Dogg, whose real name was Nathaniel D. Hale, died Tuesday of complications from multiple strokes, said Attorney Mark Geragos.

Nate Dogg wasn't a rapper, but he was an integral figure in the genre: His deep voice wasn't particularly melodic, but its tone — at times menacing, at times playful, yet always charming — provided just the right touch on hits including Warren G's "Regulate," 50 Cent's "21 Questions," Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode" and countless others.

Grio.com: Original 'gangsta crooner' gone too soon

While Nate Dogg provided hooks for rappers from coast to coast, the Long Beach, Calif., native is best known for his contributions to the West Coast soundtrack provided by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Tha Dogg Pound and more. Nate Dogg was even part of a "supergroup" featuring Snoop Dogg and Warren G, called 213.

Nate Dogg, who had suffered at least two strokes since 2008, also put out his own solo projects but was best known for his collaborations with others.

Last year, Warren G said Nate Dogg was in therapy but needed help.

"Everybody just gotta keep him in their prayers, 'cause he had two strokes and that's real dangerous. And a lot of people don't come back from that," he said in an interview to HipHollywood. "'Cause the game needs him, I need him."

After word of his death spread, tributes poured in on Twitter.

"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," Snoop Dogg tweeted Tuesday night.

Like Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg got his start on Death Row when he was signed to the groundbreaking label by Dr. Dre. Nate Dogg got his start singing in the local church choir. He dropped out of high school to join the Marines but after three years was dishonorably discharged.

He briefly got involved with the drug trade before forming a musical group with Snoop and Warren G. It was Warren G who was credited with giving their music to Dr. Dre.

Nate Dogg made his debut on Dr. Dre's classic album "The Chronic," and immediately distinguished himself with a trademarked sound: a low, steady croon that came across as intimidating as the rap verses.

His vocals made him one of the most sought after collaborators for rap songs. Fifty Cent, who tapped Nate Dogg for his 2003 love song "21 Questions," tweeted Tuesday: "I wrote the chorus to 21 questions I needed nate to sing it for me. He had a way of making everything feel hard."

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Nate Dogg could be heard on songs ranging from Ludacris' "Area Codes" to Tupac Shakur's "All About U" to Eminem's "Shake That." Even as times changed, and rappers came and went, he didn't fall out of fashion.

He faced several legal problems. In 1996, he was acquitted of an armed robbery charge; a jury deadlocked on another and he was not retried. In 2000, Nate Dogg was accused of trying to kidnap an ex-girlfriend, but those charges were dismissed. He pleaded no contest to gun possession and was sentenced to probation.

In January of 2008, he suffered a debilitating stroke but a few months later was arrested for stalking and threatening his estranged wife. He appeared in court in a wheelchair. The charge was dropped a year later.

Nate Dogg spent the last years of his life trying to rebound from his medical problems.

"All dogs go to heaven ... RIP NATE DOGG," tweeted Snoop Dogg.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Men of hip-hop

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  1. 50 Cent

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  2. Common

    Born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., Grammy-winning artist Common rose to fame with the albums "Like Water for Chocolate" and "Be." Common is sometimes considered an alternative rapper, because he tends to avoid degrading depictions of women and doesn't focus on material possessions. Common also has a successful acting career in films like "Smokin' Aces," "American Gangster" and "Wanted." He will next appear in "Terminator Salvation." (Rick Diamond / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Sean 'Diddy' Combs

    Grammy-winning rapper Sean Combs, aka Puff Daddy, P. Diddy and finally just Diddy, grew up in the public housing projects of Harlem, N.Y. In 1993, he started Bad Boy Records, with the Notorious B.I.G. as his primary artist. In 1997, he took to the mike with his debut album "No Way Out." Combs also has a clothing line, Sean John. Combs starred in "Raisin in the Sun" on Broadway and has appeared in the films "Monster's Ball" and "Made." His MTV show, "Making the Band," continues to flourish, and he even dipped into politic with his 2004 "Vote or Die" campaign. (Charley Gallay / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. DMX

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    Chris "Ludcris" Bridges is the highest-selling Southern hip-hop artist of all time. He's known for albums such as "Chicken-n-Beer," "The Red Light District" and "Release Therapy." Bridges also has a successful acting career with films such as "Crash," "Hustle & Flow," "RocknRolla" and "Max Payne." He also co-founded Def Jam's southern label, Disturbing the Peace. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 18: Recording artist Soulja Boy during the 2008 BET Hip-Hop Awards Rehearsals Day 3 at The Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on October 18, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images For BET) (Rick Diamond / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. T.I.

    Born Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., rapper T.I. is best known for albums such as "I’m Serious," "Urban Legend" and "T.I. vs. T.I.P." In 2007, T.I. was charged with possession of three unregistered machine guns and two silencers and possessions of firearms by a convicted felon. In March 2009, he began a one-year jail sentence. In preparation for jail, T.I. did 1,000 hours of community service and taped the MTV reality show, "Road to Redemption." He’s also found some time for acting, starring in "ATL," and appearing in "American Gangster." (Theo Wargo / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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    T-Pain, born Faheem Rasheed Najm, is best known for his albums "Rappa Ternt Sanga," "Epiphany" and "Thr33 Ringz." He's known for the use of the now ubiquitous auto-tune, an audio processer that can change pitch and deliberately distort the voice. It can also disguise vocal "mistakes." T-Pain began composing music at the age of 10. (Michael Caulfield / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Lil Wayne

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  16. Young Jeezy

    Born Jay Jenkins, rapper Young Jeezy is known for his albums "The Inspiration" and "The Recession." After Hurricane Katrina, Young Jeezy opened his home to victims. In 2006, he was arrested for carrying a concealed firearm, but was acquitted. He was arrested again in 2008 for driving under the influence. In Jan. 2009, he created controversy, when during a concert he proclaimed, "I wanna thank the mother---ers overseas that threw two shoes at George Bush." (Rick Diamond / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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