Way Back Wednesday: Naughty By Nature

A weekly video spotlight on artists who came up pre-'00s, lots of videos included

Hello, fellow music lovers, and welcome to another edition of Way Back Wednesday, where I shed some light on some artists and jams from way back in the day.

When you search for '90s hip-hop jams, it's likely that Naughty By Nature will pop-up. I mean, they're behind one of the most ubiquitous hip-hop anthems to date, "Hip-Hop Hooray." I've heard it piping at sporting events, parties, clubs, on TV shows and in movies. Hell, I'm pretty sure even my Dad knows that track. Naughty By Nature's eponymous second record was my first-ever CD purchase, so it holds a special place in my heart, and it marks my first step towards appreciating and loving hip-hop. Let's take a look at some of the trio's classic cuts and get you up-to-date and pumped in time for their Legends of the Old School set at the USF Sun Dome this Friday. 

Background: Hailing from East Orange, New Jersey, Naughty By Nature first appeared on the scene in 1989 as "New Style," under which they released debut LP Independent Leaders. Though the album did well, it wasn't until they were taken under the wing of fellow Garden State native Queen Latifah and changed their name to Naughty By Nature that things really picked up. Naughty's style had East Coast production qualities, but you could also hear some West Coast influenc on various songs throughout the years. An underrated emcee who never received the credit he should've due to NBN's knack for producing a great beat, Treach's rapping style was fast and visceral. At times, I've found myself returning to tracks and trying to catch what he said. Treach had a well-documented friendship with late rapper 2Pac. They were often seen in videos together, even acted alongside each other in the excellent movie Juice, but also spent a lot of time hanging out beyond music-related endeavors. In 1997 Naughty By Nature released "Mourn You Til' I Join You," which was dedicated to their fallen friend but was really more a personal ode about Treach and 2Pac's relationship.

Notable Albums: In 1991, Naughty By Nature released their self-titled second album though first under the new moniker. Naughty By Nature saw critical and commercial success, and was certified platinum on February 6, 1992, thanks in large part to hit single, "O.P.P." Both singles that followed, "Uptown Anthem" and "Everything's Gonna Be Alright (Ghetto Bastard)," charted well on the Billboard Top 100. "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" still remains my favorite NBN song to date. Treach's raw lyrics were fully engaged but his emotional sincerity really grabbed me. The group's third LP, 19 Naughty III, dropped in 1993, and once again scored well with critics and earned love from by fans. "Hip-Hop Hooray" anchored the album, not only a hit single but career highlight and the most recognized song they produced. "It's On" and "Written On Ya Kitten" had a tall task to follow after "Hip-Hop Hooray," but they both did pretty well. I included the remix to "Written On Ya Kitten" rather than the album version because it's so damn good. 

Other albums released pre-2000:
Poverty's Paradise (1995) Featured hit singles "Clap Yo Hands," "Craziest" and the summer anthem "Feel Me Flow." The album won the award for Best Rap Album at the Grammy Awards in 1996, which was a new category that year.
Nineteen Naughty Nine: Nature's Fury (1999) Featuring hit singles "Dirt All By My Lonely," "Live or Die," "Jamboree" and "Holiday." Their first and only album for Arista Records.

******

"O.P.P."
"Everything's Gonna Be Alright"
"Uptown Anthem"
"Hip-Hop Hooray"
"It's On"
"Written On Ya Kitten"
"Clap Yo Hands"
"Craziest"
"Feel Me Flow"
"Jamboree"
"Mourn You Till I Join You"

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Were you more of a casual fan of NBN, really only into hits like "O.P.P." and "Hip-Hop Hooray"? Or do you prefer the deeper cuts? Did you get your tickets to this Friday's show? It should be a great chance to hear some classics songs from a great '90s hip-hop act...and a few others, 2 Live Crew and Salt-n-Pepa included.

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