Author: Adam Bernard
If you're of a certain age it's a safe bet that Naughty By Nature
holds aspecial place in your record/tape/CD collection. One of the only groups in
the history of hip-hop that gave rap fans gritty, reality based, rhymes,
while at the same time pleasing the masses with pop anthems, Naughty By
Nature managed to create a fan base that extended from the streets to the
suburbs. Recently, however, the group has been on an extended vacation.
Although they've been touring, fans haven't heard anything new from them
since 2002. When RapReviews caught up with Treach this week, we found out
that's about to change. Treach also revealed why it's taken the group so
long to come out with a new album, the biggest way in which he feels Naughty
By Nature changed rap music, and the group's initial thoughts about
as their lead single way back in 1991.
Adam Bernard: Why don't you start things off by filling everyone in on
what's going on in your life right now?
Treach: Right now Naughty By Nature is looking at an album release,
hopefully before the new year comes in. We still tour. We've done 100-150
shows a year since '91. Kay Gee rejoined the group, so this is going to be
our first album together in like ten years. Our last album, Icon, was on TVT
and it was me and Vin alone, and was released in 2002. I'm also still doing
the movies and television roles and stuff like that. Just staying busy and
keeping the brand alive.
AB: That's a huge gap in-between albums. Your feud with Kay Gee was well
documented, but were there any other reasons you stopped recording? Did you
temporarily lose the passion?
T: No, it was never that, it was actually more or less this label situation
and the politics of the business. When we first came out with the Icons
album we had the first single with 3LW, "Feel's Good," which was like the #1
hip-hop single for 12 weeks straight, so we were looking to go forward to
the next single and hopefully have 2-3 singles off of that album and really
smash em in the head and let em know that Naughty was back officially, but
the label, for whatever reasons, wanted to stop at one single, basically
just quit on it, and go to the next album. We come from an era where it's
not about a first week record sales, it's not about a first month, it's
about the whole project, so we really felt as though TVT didn't see our
vision as far as really being committed to a project. We felt as though we
had many (potential) singles off that album and to just get pushed off and
work on another album under those circumstances, we felt as though the same
thing could happen again on the next album. Instead, we sat out for a while
to get our release off of there so we could go somewhere else, but around
that time, as you know, 2003-2004, that's when the whole industry sort of
crashed. Labels weren't signing anybody, and the independent thing, if you
really couldn't finance it 125,000% it didn't make sense to put out music.
So we stayed on the road and we're still on the road constantly. We were
like, until we bring these numbers up and have somebody interested in
signing us, or see where the game is changing, it doesn't make sense to just
put out a project and nobody ever hears of it. We wanted to build that
brand, which we did and it paid off.
AB: I'm guessing when TVT went out of business you weren't very surprised.
T: No, not at all. You gotta realize on the other end of it it's like the
loyalty wasn't there. We woulda sold a million out the box. We would have
been able to do whatever we wanted. It's like the confidence with us being
Naughty By Nature, we thought we would have had more respect on the label
like, you know what, even if it's not three singles, which we were used to
doing for albums, even if it's two singles, it's like damn, you had the
number one hip-hop single, you damned near sold a quarter of a million
albums, which was basically not even heard of then for artists that have
been in the game as long as us, like yeah, let's throw em another single,
let's work it, and go at it, and see how it goes, and then go on to the next
project. When TVT shut down it definitely wasn't a surprise to me.
AB: Before Naughty By Nature there wasn't a lot of street oriented hip-hop
making its way to the suburbs. Do you consider yourself a trailblazer in
T: Oh definitely. We are probably one of the only hip-hop artists that have
been able to have pop success and a hardcore hip-hop following. Once it's
either or, you're either underground or you're a pop group, there isn't
really too much in-between, so for us to be able to drop any hardcore
hip-hop song that we want, plus come out there and have pop dominating
songs, is basically unheard of for hip-hop
AB: Having a pop anthem is obviously good for notoriety, and the wallet, but
does it hinder creativity at all when it comes time to make the next album
and you realize you have to have another "O.P.P." or another "Hip-Hop
T: When we were doing the first Naughty album we didn't know what a pop
record was. We came from the era where you had to have originality, you had
to have records that sounded different, you had to have wittiness, you had
to have something that was catchy. When we came out, a lot of the artists
would go straight to the hook and you would just hear scratching on it.
There wasn't really a hook there. We changed the game to where everybody had
to have a hook included, but we didn't know how to make a pop record.
"O.P.P." took off, but that's a cheating song. That's a record that we
thought might not even get played because of what the record was talking
about, but still to this day people are trying to figure out exactly what it
AB: You are celebrating a big birthday at the end of the year. What do you
think it means to be 40 in hip-hop?
T: To me it's just the beginning. I've been in my dirty 30's for ten years,
I can't wait to get to my naughty 40.
AB: You're part of only the second generation of emcees that have turned 40,
so there's really not much of a blueprint for this.
T: Yeah, but your destiny is in your own hands as long as you know how to
recreate yourself, change with the times, and keep making music that any
genre or any age can relate to. Once you put those elements all together
it's like you have a renewable situation.
AB: Speaking of your destiny and your future, why don't you tell me about
the album you're working on right now?
T: What we're putting out now is like an appetizer, a teaser. It's called
Garden State Greats. One part of Garden State Greats consists of five
members, but the other part, what we do with the mixtapes is anybody that's
from Jersey that has a mixed song that makes it through the pick and choose
process, is a part of Garden State Greats, so it's like bringing that type
of movement like the South had. Jersey is basically looked over in hip-hop.
You have New York, you have the West coast, you have the Midwest, you have
the South, but Jersey is not really included in that New York mix unless you
do massive collaborations with New York artists. Jersey is so close to New
York, but we have our own swagger, our own style, our own hip-hop vibe. The
history of hip-hop starts way back in Jersey with Sugar Hill Gang, Queen
Latifah, Flavor Unit. We've been in it for a minute.
AB: Aside from the music, are you working on anything film-wise right now?
T: Yeah, I got a few scripts right now that I'm looking over. The last thing
I did for the screen was 50 Cent's Before I Self Destruct, Steven Seagal's
Today You Die, and Connors' War. The last television things were The
Sopranos and Law & Order. I actually have a meeting in another hour in the
city to talk about different movies and scripts and everything else. That's
definitely in motion.
AB: You worked with Steven Seagal, which is awesome. Did he teach you any
T: Oh yeah, he showed me some things. Definitely.
AB: A lot of people may not realize it, but Naughty By Nature did Shane
McMahon's WWE entrance song, "Here Comes the Money."
Any chance we'll ever see you on Raw or Smackdown?
T: Aw man, I don't know, our smackdowns are usually 100% real. When we do it
it ain't no bumpness, but it depends on when they call us. We don't say no
too much if it's in the realm of expanding the brand.
AB: Finally, what else do think fans should know about you that they may not
T: I'm a father. I'm a loyal friend. I'm a hardcore hip-hop artist, but I'm
not ignorant. I'm intellectual, I'm a businessman, I have a lot of different
branding opportunities that are coming up, not just for Naughty, but for
Treach. I feel like I'm 20 years old, like when we started, I really do.
Once we come around again, whether it's with Naughty, or whether it's with
the Garden State Greats, all the folks I've done records with across the
country and the world, those records are gonna start flying out of nowhere.
You're gonna be like "yo, man, when does he sleep," when a lot of the stuff
has been recorded for 5-10 years ago.
You can find Treach online at NaughtyByNature.
If you don't have their classic self-titled debut go cop that today!
Originally posted: July 20, 2010