Naughty By Nature 25th Anniversary
25 Years Ago… Naughty by Nature came on the scene in a major way. “O.P.P.” was an instant summer hit, and by the time most of us heard this melodic anthem their self-titled debut “Naughty By Nature” was released through Tommy Boy Records. Personally, “O.P.P.” is a song that will always get my attention and bring back memories. It’s one of the ultimate Hip-Hop anthems. After hearing the production using Melvin Bliss and Jackson 5 samples, this was a group I had to check out. Let’s forget about “The New Style” for a while because let’s be honest… Most of us have. To celebrate Naughty By Nature’s 25th Anniversary we look back into history.
Naughty By Nature – Self Titled Debut
Released on September 3, 1991 their debut was a sample filled classic that focused on Treach’s sharp lyricism and storytelling as well as a variety of genre fueled hip-hop tracks. The albums production was handled by the group themselves, with producer Kay Gee being the main force behind the boards. Credit to Queen Latifah for believing in the group and convincing them to change their name from “The New Style.” ‘Tifah added her reggae style to “Wickedest Man Alive”, while Lakim Shabazz, Apache and Aphrodity were the only other features on the album.
When this album was first added into my rotation I can remember not feeling how I thought I would’ve. I was hoping for more of a radio friendly sound similar to “O.P.P.” But the more I listened I realized this was even better. There were songs talking about growing up in the ghetto, robbery, watching your back and even dancehall grooves. Treach rhymes 90% of the songs and carries each track. This was merely a showcase of the lyrical skills Treach possessed.
“Yoke The Joker”
The album starts off with a robbery and Vin Rock exclaiming “Yoke The Joker.” This was a deep, ominous piano keyed beat that was the official intro. Treach’s multi-syllabic flow and alliteration was way more intricate than the simple “Peter Piper Picked Peppers.”
Naughty By Nature “Yoke The Joker”
“Wickedest Man Alive” feat Queen Latifah
Latifah provides the chorus to this riddim flavored cut. A different song and style from the rest of the album, it showed their versatility early.
Naughty By Nature feat Queen Latifah “Wickedest Man Alive”
“You Down Wit O.P.P.??” Yeah you know me! It was infectious. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like this song. The fact Naughty By Nature is still selling shirts that ask that same question 25 years later is a testament to this songs legacy. The song most notably samples The Jackson 5’s hit “ABC” and Melvin Bliss’s “Synthetic Substitution.” “O.P.P.” achieved great commercial success as well becoming a #1 US Hot Rap Singles hit and reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. If you have a negative opinion of this song, PLEASE comment below because I have to hear what you think is wrong with this song.
Naughty by Nature “O.P.P.”
“Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (Ghetto Bastard)”
You could tell instantly that “Ghetto Bastard” (Everything’s Gonna Be Alright) would be the next single. It had the makings of another anthem. Treach tells the story of growing up in the hood without a father. “Not a shame. A problem,” declares the delivery room doctor in the intro with disgust with this growing issue. Treach’s wordplay vividly paints a picture of growing up in the projects without a father. Why if his Mom said he’s priceless, “Why do I have to live like this?” Sampling the famous line “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” from Boney M’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’ as well as The Staple Singers and The Lafayette Afro Rock Band.
Naughty By Nature “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (Ghetto Bastard)”
“Let The Hoes Go”
Another lyrical exhibition from Treach comes on “Let The Hoes Go.” He doesn’t hold back and took me quite a few times to break down everything Treach was putting down. It occasionally catches the rewind to this day.
Naughty By Nature “Let The Hoes Go”
The second half of the album (or tape back then), wasn’t as strong as the first. “Guard Your Grill” and “Pin The Tail On The Donkey” and “Strike a Nerve” are all worthy of the play button. “1 muthafucka, 2 muthafucka, 3” featuring Lakim Shabazz and Apache is notable as the only track with verses from other artists. Originally, “Uptown Anthem” didn’t appear on the initial release as it was first heard on the “Juice Soundtrack” from earlier that year.
If you had the Juice Soundtrack then you were privy to the sounds of Treach and Naughty By Nature before the radio public. The music video features an appearance from 2pac. I find it significant that their first single as “Naughty By Nature” has the word ‘anthem’ in it.
Naughty By Nature “Uptown Anthem”
Naughty By Nature Legacy
After the success of ‘Naughty by Nature’ (1992), they followed up with “19 Naughty III” the next year and continued to define what a Hip-Hop anthem was. ‘Hip-Hop Hooray’ was another Billboard hit and began to solidify them as a Hip-Hop force to be reckoned with. They continued to put out quality music through the 90’s and eventually parted ways with producer Kay-Gee. In 2002 they released “IIcons,” featuring additional production from Lil Jon, Da Beatminerz and assuming some of the boards themselves. It would be almost 10 years later before dropping “Anthem Inc.” their most recent album including Kay-Gee.
25 Years Later and they are still performing and having success in the Hip-Hop game. That’s not only longevity but legacy. Plenty of one hit wonders and has beens are still performing and earning a check, but Naughty by Nature defined Hip-Hop and still represent it. That’s why they have an album ‘IIcons’ right?
As one of my favorite groups I must say Salute. Respect. Peace.
Naughty By Nature 25th Anniversary