Naughty By Nature – A Highly Underrated Group

Editor’s Note: C-Dub aka Classic Material writes about music for a web feature called Root Beer Thoughts and can be followed on Twitter.

After a brief time as The New Style, the trio of Treach, Vinnie and Kay-Gee became Naughty By Nature and released one of hip hop’s most memorable hits, “O.P.P.” Following the success of this song, and surprisingly soon after releasing their first album (at least in 1990’s time) they dropped “Hip Hop Hooray” and subsequently unleashed their sophomore release 19 Naughty 3. From then on they saw minor success with “Feel Me Flow” and to a much lesser extent, “Jamboree” (and for those that were really holding on to their career, “Feels Good”). But while everyone is still discussing “the last P” in “O.P.P.” or swaying their hands from side to side and chanting “Hip Hop Hooray”, few have taken the time to notice Naughty By Nature’s highly consistent catalog which features 3 arguably classic albums. The consistency of these albums is only highlighted by Treach’s steady performances across all three releases, mixing his incredible flow with raw passion. You don’t just hear his words, you feel his fierceness.

Their first album alone solidified Treach as a beast on the mic, even from the jump as he rips through “Yoke the Joker.” The truthfulness of “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” (a.k.a. “Ghetto Bastard”) and the rawness of “Guard Ya Grill” only furthered Treach’s skills as well as showed is diverseness with tracks like “Rhyme’ll Shine On.” Then just when they looked to be a one-hit wonder we got “Hip Hop Hooray”, the second major single and the jumpoff for their second album 19 Naughty 3. Even the intro on this album showcased Treach’s hype flow as well as his impressive growth in such a short time. That album also had a cameo by Heavy D, the scathing “Cruddy Clique,” the sex anthem “Written On Ya Kitten” and the reggae-influenced “Ready For Dem”. We got the always hype Freddie Foxxx on “Hot Potato” as well as an impressive street single in “It’s On” (complete with a great opening skit).

Their supposed fall off occurred around the time that Poverty’s Paradise was released, with the jumpoff single “Feel Me Flow” not gaining them the same hype they had gotten in the past. Hell, even I slept on their third album, which went on to win a Grammy for Best Rap Album. Even that didn’t wake me up to it. But years later I would discover that Poverty’s Paradise was easily one of their finest efforts, with Treach at the top of his game spitting wildfire all over some of Kay Gee’s best production. The development of the group is evidenced by the diversity of the beats, from the smoothed-out R&B styled “Sunshine” to the hardcore boom bap of “City of Ci-Lo,” another track that highlighted Treach’s tightly crafted flow. “Hang Out and Hustle” gotta be one of the nicest post G-funk beats when the blunted style was still burning through rap and “The Chain Remains” saw Treach taking on the role of teacher and dropping some real knowledge in a conceptual joint exposing the reality of modern day slavery. Rounding out the mix were the always necessary Naughty By Nature hook-based anthems “Clap Yo Hands” and “Craziest.”

From their first real hit in 1991, Naughty By Nature gave us years of quality hip hop, whether it was Treach’s rapid fire flow, Vinnie’s welcomed Phife Dawg role, or Kay Gee’s always complementing production. For a group that’s most remembered for two major hits, they really have quite an extensive and highly underrated catalog. Although perhaps never fully recognized for their efforts, Naughty By Nature’s first 3 albums are still listenable in 2011, and that’s a feat that not all artists can claim.

Top 5 slept-on songs

Yoke The Joker

Thanx For Sleepwalking

Daddy Was a Street Corner

Hot Potato

Poor Man’s Poetry

— C-Dub aka Classic Material

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