Music & Me technically isn't Nate Dogg's debut album. That would be G-Funk Classics (1998), a mishandled double-disc album released as an afterthought during the waning days of Death Row Records. But since G-Funk Classics was such a hodgepodge, and also since it fell upon deaf ears, it's understandable that Music & Me feels like Nate Dogg's solo debut album -- his first chance to shine on his own and elevate his reputation from featured guest to solo superstar. Released by Elektra, Music & Me is a well-crafted album on most counts, featuring first-rate production work by Megahertz, Bink, and Mel-Man, along with high-profile guest features by Xzibit, Pharoahe Monch, Jermaine Dupri, Dr. Dre, Kurupt, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, and Fabolous (all of whom are returing the favor, for Nate Dogg was a featured guest on recent albums of theirs). Music & Me certainly sounds good while it's playing, and the revolving door of guest features keeps the proceedings interesting, if occasionally routine rather than exciting. If there's one quality lacking, however, it's a wealth of ace songwriting -- the productions are first-rate, the guests are talented, Nate Dogg himself is in good form, but the songs themselves are often generic. There are some exceptions, including such standouts as "I Got Love" and "Keep It G.A.N.G.S.T.A.," but too many of these songs are lyrically artless. This generally isn't a problem with Nate Dogg, since he usually is brought in by others to sing prewritten hooks, and so long as those hooks are catchy and sound good, it doesn't really matter however shallow they may be. Over the course of an entire album like this, on the other hand, where Nate Dogg is the focal point rather than a featured guest, there needs to be some substance -- lyrics and concepts that add up to something meaningful. Perhaps this goes to show that while Nate Dogg is a fantastic featured guest, a sure-fire hitmaker when brought in to sing a hook, he's no wordsmith. Nonetheless, Nate Dogg is vocally in fine form on Music & Me, an album that sounds good when it's playing, and fans will surely enjoy much of the album, which admittedly has been a long time coming, so long as they're not expecting anything deep or meaningful.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: Pharoahe Monch
feat: Jermaine Dupri