Naughty by Nature
Get to Know Them Better... “A One on One with Treach”
(Vol. 1 - No. 4)
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NAUGHTY BY NATURE What would Hip-Hop be if it weren’t for great beats, meaningful lyrics, catchy hooks, and entertainment personas that set the bar for those aspiring to become musical legends? Well for some Hip-Hop heads, the 90’s are considered to be the golden era of Hip-Hop. This decade opened our eyes, ears, and doors for artists from all walks of life to make a lasting impression on us. “Naughty By Nature” bust on to the scene just in time to switch up the game. This group started new trends in Hip-Hop culture from fashion to sound. They completely staked their claim on the music industry at large and took no prisoners. Naughty By Nature’s continued success had them dominating the charts with songs like “O.P.P, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”, “Hip Hop Hooray”, and “Feel Me Flow”. This Grammy Award winning trio of talent is individually known as Treach, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee. And while it’s been a minute since they last put out an album, they’ve never really left the scene. Naughty’s been touring the country non-stop and performing shows with a lot of your old school favorites. Treach took some time out to sit down with Da Hata and discussed Naughty By Nature’s presence and journey within the music industry. Nobody’s Fan ™
Personal Stats Home Town: Illtown, East Orange, New Jersey Age: We’re not going there Shoe Size: 12 Favorite Snack: Weed Musical Influences: Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Whodini Sports: Football and Boxing/Fighting (Contact Sports) Favorite Movie: Scarface and Beat Street Label: Illtown Records
D: So Naughty By Nature is back on the scene once again. T: Back, back, back. Actually the funny thing is if people haven’t been following the website, and what we’ve been doing as far as that’s concerned they would think that Naughty By Nature is coming back on the scene. But in all actuality even though we haven’t released an album in like eight years, we’re always out on tour. We do about 100 to150 shows a year. So even though we haven’t had any new albums out, it’s like we never left. D: Is that domestically or does that include over seas? T: That’s a conglomerate across the world. We do100 to150 shows a year, since 1991. Even though Kay wasn’t touring or recording with us for a minute, he was still doing tracks with all his groups. Kay comes with fire with every time from “Next”, to “Zhané”, to “Jaheim”, so he’s been doing his thing. I’ve been doing my stuff as far as the movies are concerned and just other projects in the hood, in the ghetto, trying to get this stop the violence and all that type stuff going on. Vin’s always been the marketing genius as far as the clothing line is concerned. We’ve got a new deal going on with Microsoft that we’re working with through the phones and everything else to tap in with the new songs through the new HTC’s
D: What’s it like trying to get your latest songs on the radio? T: We’ve found that it’s even tougher after you’ve been out. Naughty By Nature’s won Grammys, American Music Awards, gold and platinum plaques, all the accolades, and everything else. It was harder for us to get back into the market than it is for newer groups because once you’ve been in the game for 20 years they’re like its time for you to retire. D: The industry just doesn’t have any loyalty towards Hip-Hop the way that they should. T: Exactly. Take for instance Bruce Springsteen. He’s playing 20 minutes away in Giants Stadium right now. He just turned 60 years old yesterday or the day before yesterday. They’ll never tell him that he can’t put out another album. D: When does Anthem, Inc. come out? T: Well actually, now we know it’s like a whole different game. It’s like when we came out before you would have a hot single out, hot B-side, this that and the third. Then you could put out an album basically a month or two later because so many demands were on the single. But now the game has changed were it’s a digital single game. You got to go out their and sell 1 million, 2 million, 4 million singles but if you drop an album you only selling 100,000 units. So if you do the math it really doesn’t pay to put out one single, sell a couple of million, and then go straight to the album. What you do is you feed the fans with enough singles. Like now we got “Get To Know Me Better” on the A-side, and “Gotta Lotta” on the B-side. That’s like the street hard cord uptown anthem splash ghetto bastard boom bat type sound, and the other one is for the club. D: What’s Naughty’s game plan? T: What we gonna do? We’re filtering the people. We gonna let everybody hear like four or five singles if it takes. I mean you have to saturate the market for them to feel like they’re getting their monies worth to even buy the album. The one thing I can say is that by the time this album comes out, it’s going to be a whole different realm. People are going to be like wow, that’s what Hip-Hop is missing. D: So you’re helping to build the demand? T: Now you got all these fans that are feenin’ for the album. The people are going to say, “Where’s the album at?” Because we not gonna have everybody anticipating for a date, and be like so many albums where what happens?… Oh we gonna push it back and let’s hope they tell you when they pushing it back too.
Nobody’s Fan ™
D: We’re living in a digital download age. Everybody wants things in realtime. They want that ringtone, that wallpaper, or whatever. They want everything right now. They’re not doing albums so much because they keep getting let down by the record companies. So getting the buzz out there by dropping singles will work with creating the demand for the album. T: Exactly, exactly. D: I did notice that you’ve got two songs rocking at the same time but they’re kind of going in two different directions. T: When we give it to the Club DJ’s or the Mixtape DJ’s they can’t say, “You know what, I don’t like Get To Know Me Betta”, because the only thing we got to say is flip it over. This is for you. If you don’t like one or the other from Naughty you got to be gaming or you’re a DJ that’s just trying to play A&R instead of like, “Yo, you know what I respect the artist for being in the game as long as they been in”. They know what they do. D: How do you know which song is the right one to be released? T: Nobody wanted us to come out with “O.P.P.” first. They wanted “The Wickedest Man” the B-side because it was harder. But we knew that was a money record so we put that on the flip side. This way everybody who got “O.P.P.” got “Wickedest Man” too. They didn’t want us to put out “Hip-Hop Hooray” they wanted something harder “It’s On”, “Ghetto Bastard”, “Uptown Anthem” type thing. We know our money records. We’re going to give you the money records and the club bangers because we’re known for that, but 80% of everyone of Naughty By Nature album has been straight hardcore boom bap underground Hip-Hop. But we have our Pop songs on there because we’ve learned how to make records like that. D: Did you know that you were going to be making music that would cross over the way that it did? T: When we did “O.P.P.” we didn’t know nothing about Pop records, Pop success, or that it was going to blow up the way it did. We just made Hip-Hop music that was good and different even though it was hardcore. If you hear the content of it, it has to be one of the raunchiest songs of all times. D: The songs have catchy hooks and people just love them. T: It’s just that we’ve been recording and testing ourselves out ever since Junior High and High School. We’ve been in the studio, we’ve done the talents shows, and we were an overnight success. We’ve been doing this shit since the 80’s. We done had deals since before this. We were the same group back then but we were called New Style.
D: Do you think that when you changed the name from “New Style” to “Naughty By Nature” that it gave you a little more edge? Do you think the name helped at all? T: Yes definitely because the name “New Style” was so 80’s. Then there was “Naughty By Nature” coming at the beginning of the 90’s, like this is the Naughty 90’s. We gonna switch up the whole format. We’re gonna have them wearing our braids, our boots, our Dickies. They’re gonna be wanting to carry machetes and have chains around their necks and locks for the homies locked down. It was a Jersey movement, you know. We made a whole movement out of that. D: What was up with the machete? T: Actually I found the machete in a garbage can, and I kept it. I had adopted a pet. D: Where is it now? T: Somebody got us. We were doing a tour and you know how you’re moving equipment in and out. Somebody that was moving in production on one of the tours got us. Somebody got Ali Baba somewhere. D: Somebody’s got it hanging up on their shelf right now like a samurai sword. They’re paying homage to Naughty By Nature. T: I’m a find it though, I’m a find it. Ali Baba we gotta connect. D: You named it Ali Baba? T: Yeah….laughing. D: What’s it like working in a group? Do egos get involved or attitudes? T: To a certain extent but with us it’s more of a competitive ego type thing. Like trying to push each of us to get better at our craft. Kay doesn’t rap so for him it was to step his production up. I don’t do production so for me it was to step my rap game up, and me and Vin are the same. So it’s like that. D: How do you guys work out issues? T: As far as the bickering and arguing goes that’s like with all families. Ya’ll love each other to death, ya’ll live in the same house, and sometimes you’re just around each other too much. Where you’re like get away from me…. I can’t stand you, but then you walk it out and shake it off. It’s like, that’s my brother, I love him yo, but boom-boom-boom. If there’s a problem let’s go to the parking lot and put up them ball beaters and we can get it in. Me and Kay went through that while we was Naughty. Me and him had a problem, we went right in the park and put up them hands because it wasn’t gonna go no further than that because that’s my brother. Nobody’s Fan ™
D: You just need to get it out. T: Yeah, you know what I mean. There ain’t nothing after that. It was like eye-ight you bust my lip, you got a little shiner, whatever. Now let’s got back into the studio and do what we do.
D: Naughty By Nature is known as one of the iconic groups of Hip-Hop with the Golden Era of the 90’s. What do you think about groups like “The Cool Kids”, “Mickey Facts”, or the “Retro Kidz”? Are they hell bent on trying to recreate your sound with your formula or do they lack creativity? T: Listen I think like this….it’s all an advancement of Hip-Hop, and Naughty By Nature didn’t create Hip-Hop. We all had our idols… LL Cool J, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Run DMC, Whodini, Fat Boys, the Cold Crush Brothers, Crash Crew, the Sugarhill Gang, and so on. I emulated my style off of everybody that I learned from. So when I came out they used to say, “Yo he sound like a little LL”. I wasn’t mad, because I did. LL was one of my favorite rappers, and they called Naughty By Nature the 90’s era Run DMC. They ain’t lying because we grew up off of Run DMC. So to me when anybody said we sounded like anybody when we were coming out, I was like word. Ya’ll gonna put us up there like that, that’s good. You ain’t telling me that I’m sounding like somebody that’s wack. You telling me that I’m sounding like someone who’s out there doing it big and done changed the game. D: Your music has touched and influenced many of today’s artists that grew up listening to you. Do you know of any that have mentioned your contributions to their style? T: I would say that the biggest artist that said he grew up off of our style was Eminem, and has so much respect and love for us. You ain’t never heard us come out like, “Yo Eminem, Yo, you sound too much like us, or boom-boom-boom it’s a problem”. Nah, it’s like we all grew up off of somebody, and if Run DMC would have come up to me or LL and been like, “Yo man you wack, or you sounding to much like me”, man that would have crushed me. I would have been like damn, my idols. I mean that’s what I thought it was all about. You have to emulate somebody. Nobody made up music except for who made it up.
D: The invention of music. T: Everybody had to emulate something from somewhere, and learn from somewhere, and get it from somewhere, and it’s all a cycle like that. I love the new guys that are coming up. They might be similar to the way we sounded but it’s a whole different era in time. So they got they own swagger with it. So it just makes it sound like new hotness. D: If I were to grab your IPod and search through it, what music in your IPod would surprise me? T: Well really I don’t do the IPod thing. I get like classics. You’ll hear anything from the “Legend” Bob Marley album, to Nas’ “Illmatic”, to Bobby “Blue” Bland, to Marvin Gaye, to Maxwell, to Madonna, to Mariah Carey, to Mary J. Blige’s “What’s the 411”, to EPMD, to Bruce Springsteen. I listened to so much music with my moms growing up, that’s why I think I was just blessed with an open ear to all types of music forms. I guess Hip-Hop too because Hip-Hop was built off of sampling other music. We wouldn’t have known anything about James Brown if our parents weren’t listening to it, so they schooled us. D: Do you think that’s what your kids are going to say to you years from now? T: The funny thing is that with this new era my kids are schooling me. I could be riding with them in the car and if I turn the station because I done heard Soulja Boy a million times and love him… but if they miss that one Soulja Boy song at that time they’re gonna smack me in the back of the dome with the bottle like, “Daddy what you doing?, No, none of that!!”. So they school me on what they like. D: It’s good that you listen to them and try to understand what’s catching their ear. My parents weren’t like that. T: I’m not gonna be the old man talking about, “Ya’ll don’t know music because music was the bomb back in the days”. That’s what our parents were telling us, that that was noise. But you know what, there’s a lot of talent behind these little artists. They’re not just over their beating on garbage cans for beats, and just screaming outside on a megaphone or bullhorn. They’re really putting songs together that’s competing at the Grammy’s, the AMA’s, the MTV Awards, and the BET Awards. They’re out their winning awards because there’s talent out there. Nobody’s Fan ™
D: What do you do to prepare yourself for a performance? T: Before I go on stage I do a couple of reps, some pull ups, some dips, get a blunt, some Henny, and then hit the stage and just take them there. D: What are some of your favorite movies? T: Movies, you already know… Scarface, Goodfellas, I can watch a Titanic, all the HipHop’s movies like Beat Street, Wild Style, Breakin’, Juice, etc. D: You’re in Juice so you got to pick something else…laughing. T: Nah, Nah, I’m just saying in that realm. I can watch everything from war movies, to love movies, to comedy. Like our click we love comedies. We can go from stand-up with the old school from the Richard Pryor’s, to the Red Foxx’s, or up to the Chris Rock’s, Martin Lawrence’s, and Chris Tucker’s. We even watch those types of silly-silly movies like The Wayans Bros. It’s like whatever; if it’s a hot movie it’s a hot movie. D: Where’s your hometown? Is it where you’re at now, or are you repping where you’re from? T: That would be New Jersey. I was born in Newark and raised in East Orange, Illtown. That’s the hood for life, Illtown and Newark. I’ve been back and forth from there my whole life. We don’t live in the hood right now, but we’re on the outskirts. We’re 20 minutes away from the hood, all of us. So we ain’t far because we got studio groups and the rest of that. D: What made all of you choose to stay so close? T: Just to be in the hood, and letting them know we’re from there means a lot to us. There wasn’t no alien that dropped powers on us and took us out of the hood. We worked for it. Ya’ll saw us when we was hustling on the block, and when we said you know what we not hustling no more cause we got a dream and we not getting locked up forever or getting caught out on these streets. We gonna follow our dreams with it. D: I’ve been watching the awards shows and every now and then things get a little funny. What would you say if Naughty By Nature was up on stage accepting a VMA, a Grammy, an Oscar, or so on and somebody that wasn’t a part of that success walked up on stage with you? What would your reaction be? T: First of all, they know who to do that to. They know whose stage they can step up on and who’s they can’t step on. So it wouldn’t even be a thing like when Borat did a little sky diving joke with trying to sit on my head or something like that…it would be a problem because that’s all in my realm right there. So if you come near me I feel as though you might walk over but you gonna limp back.
D: Even if it’s a little fan that gets all caught up in the moment? T: Nah, if it’s a fan, it’s a different thing. But if it’s somebody that’s trying to come up and be disrespectful or trying to take my light it would be a different story, because you don’t do that to nobody. We respect the event, and the people that are there. We respect them getting their just due whether we feel as though they should have won or not. When we won our Grammy it wasn’t even televised for Hip-Hop. I couldn’t even thank my moms. I couldn’t thank my family, my people’s, or nothing. So now that we’ve gone through a Civil Rights movement for Hip-Hop to get passed that… when I finally get my moment televised… Nah, ain’t nobody taking my shine! They already know that we beats like that. D: When you’re at home in Jersey or just out and about does it ever still shock you that people notice you as a celebrity? T: Yeah, because if anybody who knows us will tell you that we don’t walk around on that superstar business of “ya’ll know who I am”. We’re not starving for fame. We’ve been there and we weren’t in it for the fame. I’m in the business for the music, for the love, and so that I can take care of my family. It surprises me that people still know us. D: The “Rock the Bells” concerts are always sold out because old Hip-Hop heads, new Hip-Hop heads want to hear that. Unfortunately, they’re not doing enough of them and they’re only in select cities. T: I’m telling you sweetie, 60-70% of our shows now are like old school shows. We just came back from Kansas City with Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Shock G from Digital Underground, and Rob Base. Our regular format show switches up from Tone Loc to Coolio. We just did Los Angles that with Big Daddy Kane and YoYo. These are the shows that we’re doing all the time. So those 20,000, 15,000, 10,000 people in the audience may not be hearing new music but they leaving the show like ya’ll missed…they’re still tearing it down.
Nobody’s Fan ™
D: Treach, I wasn’t calling you old school like that. T: No, no, we had to accept it. You know what we came out in 1991, and it’s 2009. D: It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. T: Exactly. D: Do any of the newer artists ever join in on the fun? T: New artists are included on some, but most of them are old school shows. The thing is that a lot of the new artists can’t do shows together because they got mixtapes with songs dissing each other so the promoters can’t even book them to do shows together. D: What I consider to be quality Hip-Hop music is not what a lot of the newer artists releasing these days. They’re signing songs with hooks like, “LOL Smiley Face”, or “Chicken Noodle Soup with a Soda on the Side”. T: Hip-Hop is so much like dinosaurs with how it’s evolved from one form of a dinosaur to the alligator that’s still here on the earth. We’ve had to evolve around everything, and our food sources are changing. Just take the radio stations for example. If they’re only playing like one thing, and the only way I can come out is to make a record like that so I can eat, then I’d have to do it so that I can come out the way I really want to later. Or I might just stay in the zone because this is all they’re playing. If you ain’t talking about money, cars, doing this that or the other, how much you got…boom-boom-boom this that and the third… you don’t hear it on the radio. So those that do come out with it are selling millions while those that don’t still have their shit sitting on the shelf. D: Does Naughty By Nature support any special causes? T: Our cause really is the ghetto, and it’s been the ghetto. Like say for instance we’ll do a mixtape and we’ll have Crips and Bloods on it. They’ll come in the studio, hang together, break bread together, and get it like that. You don’t ever hear about that on the news or anything else. We be doing rallies down here where the kids get shot and killed and everything. Rarely is it on the news or in the papers, but it ain’t like we out there to get that. We’re just out here to police our own ghetto. Shouldn’t no kids or women be having to ducking bullets when coming home from school or work. Everything goes on the way it goes on, but there’s supposed to be rules and code on the street. Half the people getting killed are people they ain’t even shooting at. You know what I mean… innocent by-standers. So we put back into the community. We don’t have no Federal grants, no State grants, no nothing. We got kids and families but we do that out of our own pockets. We be in the trenches…where the police don’t even ride by. You know what I mean? In the ghetto… that’s our contribution back to the hood.
D: That’s a very honorable thing and I can respect that. T: Letting them know that yo there’s a bigger picture than the one you looking at. The person may have on a different color but that’s really not your enemy. Any gangster form whether it’s Italian or Russian, this that and the third, ain’t nobody shooting in front of their houses on their blocks. All of what they do is somewhere else and everybody knows you better not come around these neighborhoods with nothing or there’s a problem. They suppose to know that the safest spot for you and your family rest your head. If anything else is going on it’s taken outside of there and none of that’s brought back with you. You got to go outside, your kids got to walk…come on. It wasn’t like that when I was growing up. There were rules and codes. D: The fact that you’re giving back to those kids and even adults who haven’t had somebody to cares like that, that’s awesome. They need that. They need to be able to see that positive light even in sometimes those darkest of circumstances. That somebody is there. That somebody does care. Even if it doesn’t come from home you’re there for them. Thanks Treach for letting my readers and I get to know Naughty better....
Nobody’s Fan ™
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Published on Apr 29, 2010