Popular singer Nathaniel D. Hale, known to hip-hop music fans as Nate Dogg, died March 15 at age 41 after a lengthy illness.

News of his death was first reported by the Long Beach, Calif. newspaper the Press Telegram, which confirmed the news with Nate’s family. While the cause of death wasn’t released, the singer suffered strokes in 2007 and 2008.

According to entertainment website, the rapper dropped out of high school at 16 in Long Beach, Calif., and left home to join the U.S. Marine Corps. He served for only three years.

In 1991, Nate Dogg, Snoop Dogg, and their friend Warren G, formed a rap trio called 213. The group recorded their first demo in the back of the famed V.I.P. record store in Long Beach and the record later caught the ear of rapper/producer Dr. Dre.

Nate Dogg came to fame in the 1990s after he debuted on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic album, and from there he began to work with a handful of artists including Eminem, Fabolous, Ludacris, 50 Cent, and Tupac. Nate Dogg was featured on Warren G’s 1994 single “Regulate,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100. The song was the first in a string of top hip-hop singles that included Nate Dogg’s melow voice, including Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode,” Fabolous’ “Can’t Deny It,” Ludacris’ “Area Codes” and Eminem’s “Shake That.”

The mellow-voiced entertainer’s signature sound became an integral part of the 1990s music scene and the West Coast “gangsta-funk” movement. He also released a number of solo albums, including G-Funk Classics Vol. 1 & 2, Music & Me, and Nate Dogg.

Several celebrities took to social media sites to remember the late singer, including close friend Snoop Dogg. “We lost a true legend n hip hop n rnb,” the former Death Row Records member tweeted. “One of my best friends n a brother to me since 1986 when I was a sophomore at poly high where we met.”

Rapper 50 Cent also sounded off on Twitter, saying, “I just landed nate dog is dead damn. GOD BLESS HIM R.I.P he meant a lot to west coast hiphop. I’ve always been a fan of it.”

California-based rapper Xzibit tweeted, “We love you Nate Dogg, it’s never going to be the same. We lost a soldier, a father, a legend, a homie. My condolences go out to Ms. Ruth and the entire family. Celebrate.”