When it comes to singing hip-hop hooks, there's only one man to believe in: Nate Dogg.

For an artist who's blessed with more hooks than Joe Frazier, in person Nate Dogg is a man of few words—and even less facial expressions. "Where's the chalk at?” he asks calmly before applying the dusty aqua green cube to the end of his pool stick. Chillin' inside Dewey's, a cozy, red-brick-walled Cheers-like venue in NYC's Flatiron district, The King of Hooks is G'd up in a charcoal gray two-piece leisure suit, black T-shirt and matching black bowler hat with feather. Leaning over the pool table to break in the first of several trash-talking matches, Nate warns, "I'ma give you one or two more minutes before I start really playing, so be ready. Then it's all over.” After winning two out of four games, he notes, slyly, "That's how you keep people playing: Talk shit.”

Talking shit is a subject Nate Dogg is well versed in. Ever since he first rapped with a young Snoop Doggy Dogg and Warren G. in their early rap crew, 213, nearly a decade ago, he's made a career out of it. Until Nate Dogg arrived, singers who appeared on rap records kept it relatively PG compared to their MC counterparts. But the Long Beach, California native changed that almost overnight, singing about the same raunchy exploits as his fellow rappers on such explicit tracks as Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Ain't No Fun” and Tha Dogg Pound's "Let's Play House.” On "Ain't No Fun,” Nate tells a local hood rat, "If you can't fuck that day, baby/Just lay back and open your mouth!” He's still keeping it dirty today, crooning on Dr. Dre's recent "Xxplosion,” from Dr. Dre 2001, "While we still making gangsta hits/You'll be still jocking gangsta dicks!” Eric Benet or Luther Vandross the current King of Hooks is not.