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Nature's finest

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2010

The kings of the hip-hop anthem are coming to Juneau.

Grammy Award winning and multi-platinum selling hip-hop icons Naughty By Nature will grace the stage at Marlintini's Lounge on Saturday as the group tours to promote its first new album in a decade, "Anthem Inc."

Naughty By Nature, composed of Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee, exploded onto the mainstream music scene in 1991 with the release of the track "O.P.P." on the group's self-titled debut album. At the time, "O.P.P" was one of the most successful hip-hop hits of all time, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

And the rest is history.

The album also produced another hit single, "Everything's Gonna Be All Right," and "Naughty By Nature" quickly went platinum.

In 1992, the single "Uptown Anthem," off the soundtrack from the movie "Juice," proved Naughty By Nature was no one-hit wonder.

The group's third and fourth albums, "19 Naughty III" and "Poverty's Paradise," both reached No. 1 on R&B and hip-hop charts, and the video for "Hip Hop Hooray," directed by Spike Lee, stands as one of the most iconic hip-hop videos of all time.

"Poverty's Paradise" won the first-ever Grammy for Best Hip-Hop Album in 1996, and the single "Feel Me Flow" reached No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The group's fifth record, "Nineteen Naughty Nine: Nature's Fury," reached gold status, but it would be group's final collaboration as a three-some.

Until now.

"It was like we never came out of the studio. The chemistry was there and it was surprising to us, even," Treach said of the group's reunion. "We thought there would be some kinks to work out, but one thing was Kay Gee stayed in the studio producing while me and Vin stayed on the road, so it wasn't like we fell out of touch doing it. It's like riding a bike: You never forget."

"Anthem Inc.," out in December, will be cutting edge, Treach said, but with that "classic Naughty sound."

"The stuff that we've been putting out and what we're doing with it, people are losing their minds because they don't even understand," Treach said. "They're like, 'Yo, it sounds like ya'll never left and you still have the same hunger and drive.'

"We're going to bring that classic Naughty sound. At the same time, you're not going to hear 1991 Naughty; you're going to hear 2011 Naughty," he continued. "You're not going to listen to us and say, 'These guys are outdated. These guys don't know what's going on,' But at the same time, you're not going to say, 'These guys are doing something out of character, or trying to follow something that somebody else is doing.'"

Treach said the group always will stay true to its roots, which means "we're going to make those party, feel-good records, and we're going to keep it moving."

Kay Gee, who rejoined the fold in 2006, said fans can expect tight production on the new record.

"The production, we stay in here (in the studio) perfecting our craft. We embrace technology. Everything now has switched over to the computer, and a lot of the old analog drum machines and stuff like that has been phased out," he said. "We've been on the cutting edge of technology, even when it was first introduced. We like to embrace change, so we have no problem with staying up to date."

The group's new mixtape, "Naughty By Nature featuring the Garden State Greats: Tha Mixtape," which is available for free download at www.naughtybynature.com, showcases some of Naughty's new work.

A couple of songs stand out, including "Heavy In My Chevy," and "So Many Things."

"Heavy In My Chevy" is a blues-infused, sing-song syrupy ode to "ballin' out'a control," ala Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun."

Kay Gee said all three group members are into many different types and genres of music.

"Definitely. You've got to be. You have to be, especially if you're into music," he said. "With me being the main producer and having a lot of records and digging into a lot of records, I definitely love Jimi Hendrix."

"Well, you know from 'O.P.P,' we're big Jackson 5 Michael Jackson fans," added Treach. "We grew up on Kool and the Gang and the Commodores, Marvin Gaye, the Isley Brothers. All of those guys, straight R&B, soul music, we grew up listening to that every day all day. Bob Marley, you know, with our parents sitting around. Our neighbors, just walking down the block listening to what everybody is playing and listening to. Even the local radio stations; we grew up on all of that."

Treach said the group expects big things from "Anthem Inc.," both from a lyrical and production standpoint.

"We've always prided ourselves on not making one-tune albums," he said. "With 'Anthem Inc.' it's not just a party anthem. It's a hood anthem, it's a tear-jerker anthem, it's a political anthem, it's a positive anthem, a street anthem. We touch all bases.

"Lyrically, we come from an age where you couldn't just have a hot beat and basically do a little jingle jingle over the top of it and it will be all right," he continued. "We pride ourselves on having lyrical content and having our songs really mean something. You might not even catch every thing in the song till 10 years down the line, like 'Damn, I ain't even know he said that.' It's like poetry."

For the early 20-somethings out there who weren't around to see the group's rise to the top of hip-hop during the 1990s, Treach said it's Naughty's unique sound that makes it stand out - especially live on stage.

"Energy, excitement, classic songs, new songs - sweat, blood and tears," he said, referring to what fans will see on stage at Marlintini's.

"All those 20-year-olds that might not be up on Naughty By Nature, go do your homework before we hit your town," added Kay Gee.

"We'll sell you after you come see the show. Just come see us perform live," he continued. "All they've got to do is see us perform live and I think a lot of any doubts they might have about Naughty By Nature will be gone. If they come see us live, it will connect all the dots and I'm sure they'll go home as full Naughty By Nature fans."

Long live the anthem kings.

Check out Naughty By Nature at www.naughtybynature.com, youtube.com/naughtybynature, on twitter @naughtybynature and on facebook.



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