Interview with Naughty By Nature
ONE OF THE BIGGEST BREAK OUT ACTS IN HIP HOP, NAUGHTY BY NATURE HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO STRIKE A NERVE, HOLDING DOWN THEIR TRUE IDENTITY WHILE TAKING IT TO MAINSTREAM NOTORIETY WITHOUT HAVING THEIR GHETTO PASSES REVOKED. TWENTY YEARS AFTER O.P.P. STICKERED THE CHARTS, THE NEW ALBUM ANTHEM INC. IS SET TO CEMENT THEM REAL RAP IICONS. VIN ROCK TALKS TO RIP NICHOLSON.
VinRock (Naughty By Nature) interviewed for Rip2Shredz // Street Press Australia // Hiphop.sh @ 09.20 AEST - Aug 25, 2011
Naughty By Nature went back to their gully, Illtown roots of New Jersey to shoot the video for a new single, but as Vinnie ‘Vin Rock’ Brown explains, they never left. Now fresh from a tour with Redman and Method Man stretching from France to Brasil (and Australia this month), the hardcore hip hop trio feel as young as ever on stage.
20 years in the game now! Congratulations. Are you guys feeling that legacy on your shoulders now?
We been movin’ around so much lately… i can’t even tell. We all still young and very youthful and we’re out there working on stage, jumping around and burnin’ them calories.
Does it put pressure on your new work? or does it feel the same as it did 20 years ago?
Yeah i believe that we have no real pressure and we don’t have to live up to those legacies. We just did it and the accolades came along with it. So we take it like, ‘hey we won this for hip hop.’ We doin’ this for a lot of the people and whatever is whatever on the back end, you know?
Recently you performed with New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys. Along with those two acts, ‘Hip Hop Hooray’ marks a period in popular music. That must feel pretty special for you guys?
Donnie Wahlberg was on the money on that call. He wanted us to come down to the Radio City Music Hall which was last year. We showed up and they called Backstreet and they showed up and from there he was able to put together the New Kids From The Black Street Boys tour. We have done dates with them back in the day, and i think it was a brilliant call for Donnie to call us out, man. it was a great audience and we learned a lot from how (Donnie) deals with his fan base and we still on the lot - 20 years later.
With Redman in Paris - that sounds more like your kinda crowd. How do you like the international shows, do you feel that you’re rapping in a language that everybody understands with your hip hop?
A lot of places we go the people don’t speak the language, fluently. but they understand what the music is saying through hip hop and they understand what the record is saying and the meaning. So, although they can’t have a conversation with you, I’d say they definitely hearing everything we’re saying. Hanging out with Redman, we did Paris with him, and then we just did, Sao Paulo Brasil was it?” he thinks hard, like it wasn’t just last week. “I believe it was Sao Paulo, Brasil - we did that with Redman and Method Man and it was good seeing those guys.
Apart from KayGee producing outside the group, Vin and Treach you guys never felt the urge to do other projects, solo records?
Treach works around the way with a group called Garden State Greats featuring a bunch of underground Jersey MCs and we put out a mixtape download around this time last year. And he’s working on a solo record right now, too. So when it comes to new direction he’s definitely the one to branch out to do more future solo projects.
New album, Anthem Inc - what can you tell us about it?
Well, we have the 20th anniversary collector’s edition. What we did was we re-recorded about six of our classics - ‘Jamboree’, ‘O.P.P.’, ‘Hip Hop Hooray’ you know. What we’re doing is stripping all the samples out and we’re putting a new twist to ‘em, so lyrically the same content but a different performance and twist on the production. We did it for creative purposes and we did it for business. Now we own the master recording and when it comes to film and TV placement we’ll be the ones managing that. Then the other half of it is all brand new material so um, i believe we’ve just identified the first single off the album and we’re prepping for a video. It’s called the ‘Perfect Party’ it’s one of those classic Naughty By Nature feel-good summer party records.
KayGee, will he produce the new tracks for the album? or will you grab outside help for beats?
Yeah, everything will be KayGee and his production team’s
‘I Gotta Lotta’ is that a new song from the album?
Yes and it will be included on the album.
You guys went back to East Orange, and got real grimy and back in the hood on that video, did it bring you back to your roots?
Yes definitely and again we still based in the same area and we hang around the same guys we grew up with. And we’re active around the way like a lot of and a lot of our friends, there kids play little league baseball in the same park we grew up on, Oval Park. So when we shot that video last summer it was based on being around in the neighbourhood. So it’s not like we been gone for 20 years and we’re just coming back for old time’s sake. We’ve never lost our bases.
I pictured you guys living up in Manhattan or maybe Connecticut?
We definitely live in nice places but it’s still in Jersey, you know. We’re 15 minutes from our old neighbourhood. And no matter if we live in L.A. if you active with your people, with your community period, you’ll always get love. You could live right in the bowels of where you grow up and have people that hate you and blow your head off, you know?” he jokes, with a snicker.
You guys put out an anti-gang violence video, with Ice-T recently, what compelled you to send this message out now?
Well in order to do this we knew we wanted to move into more television and film products so that was an incredible record and we knew we could create a great visual for it. And the point was to shoot it in a movie style in the hopes of getting a full feature film out of it. So that’s what happened, plus you know it’s a powerful message. So once we shot the video and came up with the project we knew we could shoot the film. And actually, that’s what we’re working on now. Shakim and Queen Latifah’s flavor Unit have a slot for us to do a feature film so we’re working on that right now.
I missed you on that track, man.
I know, well I’ve never really been the MC. Treach has always been the MC and there was a verse open for me but i said you know what, Treach we need to finish that. And on our 20th anniversary album we wanna show everybody that Treach is really one of the GOATs of the game, you know? For me, i tell people all the time, being a writer, or even a producer or a musician that’s a gift, you know? So i appreciate KayGee and Treach’s gifts but I’ve always been a writer.
Part of the problem in the game of hip hop is anyone can pick up a mic and rhyme and everybody think they got beats, it’s not that they shouldn’t attempt it but, a lot of people do it from a place like, oh I’m doing this to get paid and rarely understand that being that talented, you know it’s a gift. And if you should share it with the world then it should be from that space, not to get paid off it
With over 20 years, do you feel your age in the game now? is there a retirement to Naughty By Nature, or can you grow old on stage?
I think so, as long as you stay active and remain interesting. I think a lot of rock guys do it, Jams Brown did it, look at what the Rolling Stones are doing, Paul McCartney. And i one of the guys at the forefront of sustaining in the game is Jay-Z he’s 40-41 now and he could be on stage at 50 years old and still rhyming. It’s just that in our culture where we have ageism running wild. But, the reality is do you wanna listen to a 21 year old for your whole life when you’re a 40 and 50 year old? Or would you rather have your peer that you grew up on still catering to your demographic?
When is Naughty By Nature venturing down to Australia, next?
I believe we’ll be coming down in October. We’re doing Japan and coming down after that i believe.
New album: Anthem Inc
New singles: “Get To Know Me Better” // ‘I Gotta Lotta’ // ‘Flags’
By Rip Nicholson // [email protected]