Still Naughty [Interview]
Calgary, AB – After 20-plus years in the hip-hop scene, it’s safe to assume that Naughty by Nature have seen it all. The trio of Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee have witnessed first-hand the various stages and evolution of hip-hop, as well as the rise – and subsequent fall – of many supposed hip-hop stars.Through it all, this Grammy award-winning group out of East Orange, New Jersey has found a way to stay connected to their fans, and continue to produce relevant, socially conscious music, all while maintaining that boom-bap sound that their fans have to come love and their peers have come to respect.
Naughty’s new album Anthem Inc will be the group’s first release since 2002’s IIcons and will feature a few re-recorded classic tracks but will also feature new songs that should provide fans with a “then and now” perspective of the legendary group’s career. “[Fans] can expect 2011 Naughty, they ain’t gonna get the Naughty of the nineties,” says Treach. “They gonna get that original sound but it’s not gonna be a back in the nineties sound.”
The group has released a series of viral videos to promote the new songs off of the album, such“I got alotta” which has a similar sound to past Naughty by Nature hits, and “Flags’” which speaks on the gang culture associated with hip-hop these days.“With the [new] records that we put out there we get back from fans like ‘wow…this is what we need’,” says Vin Rock. “It’s like a lot of them feel like there’s no real message or content in the music today, so with these new songs they’re like ‘that’s what we need Naughty, come on with this album’.”
Career longevity is something that is extremely rare in this day and age, whether due to the state of the game or the lack of understanding by young artists towards the struggle and roots of hip-hop. “Hip-Hop has bred a culture of a lot of selfishness,” says Vin Rock. “People come out with one record and then say that they are the end all and be all but they don’t really look at the broader scope of things. The selfishness puts blinders on some of the new artists.”
But the members of Naughty by Nature do not believe that this lack of homage to the past is the culture of hip-hop today, rather it is the perception by those outside of industry. “We just come from a different era because we definitely give props,” says Treach. “’Hip-Hop Hooray’ just gives props to the culture of hip-hop in general.”
These legends in the rap game even have their finger on the pulse of Canadian hip-hop, and the state of the game north of the 49th parallel.“You have your Drakes and your Kardis really putting it down,” says Vin Rock. “It inspires other Canadians to say ‘You know what? If they broke out, I can break out too’, so they’ll get their grind on.”
But in order for Canadian hip-hop artists to achieve the levels of success that their peers in American reach, people in Canada have to get behind their own artists: “Canada has to support Canada, first,” says Treach. “They can’t wait on the [United] States or anybody else to jump on it, they have to have that Machine within Canada and then it will spill out.”
Written by Adam Bowen for HipHopCanada
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