In any realm of entertainment, it takes quite a lot of feats for someone to be considered legendary. That can include anything from work put forth, amount of time in the industry they are in, and the impact and legacy they leave upon the industry itself where future generations of artists look up to them and are inspired by them when they themselves are developing who they are. When you encompass all of that and then some, you truly are no doubt a legend and therefore that title fits perfectly with what you have done in your career. This can easily be said about hip hop royalty Naughty By Nature, who are taking that idea and putting it into fruition with a 25 Year Anniversary Tour and new EP all slated for early 2016.
The Trio, consisting of Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee, were critical in the early days of the hip-hop movement with massive anthems such as “O.P.P.” and “Hip Hop Hooray” and groundbreaking album “Poverty’s Paradise”, which won them their Grammy for Best Rap Album almost twenty years ago in 1996. With their legacy firmly in place, they are kicking off their 25th Anniversary Tour on January 27th in Greensboro, North Carolina and eventually making their way to Manhattan on February 27th where they will perform at the iconic Marlin Room inside Webster Hall. I sat down with one third of the incredible duo, Vin Rock, to discuss all of this and their new EP. Check it out.
How hard is it to wrap your head around that you started in the industry 25 years ago with “O.P.P.”?
I know man, it has been a while but 25 years definitely doesn’t feel like 25 years but obviously it has. At this point it just feels like a blessing.
What has been the biggest shift you have seen in the hip-hop scene since you guys began your careers in the early 90’s?
Well, I think hip-hop, when it started, it was more of a social and political kind of movement. Kind of like born out of the 60’s and all of that stuff. Now, generations later, kids may have been more spoiled, parents spoiled their kids more. So I don’t think today’s youth necessarily have the same issues or concerns that the same kids from the 60’s and 70’s did. So I think it is a little more playtime-ish and this is why you have the swag-rapping or the strip club-rapping and the turn up music now as opposed to Public Enemy, KRS-One, NWA and these guys, even Grandmaster Flash and Melly Mell when he was talking about “The Message”, it is totally different in that sense now.
Looking back, is there particularly a favorite moment that sticks out for you over the past 25 years?
I would say, for one, the fact that we were signed with The Flavor Unit and then we won the American Music Award in 1992 for Best New Rap Group. Definitely The Grammy in 1995. I remember we collaborated with Michael Jackson briefly for the Space Jam’s “Jam” video. So there have been quite a few moments in those 25 years, I just touched on a few.
Do you think there are any current hip-hop artists in the industry that you see making the longevity that you have?
Oh, yeah definitely. I really think there is a lot of them. In particular J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, those guys are really holding it down and they remind me of 90’s hip-hop but with an updated swing to them. I’m actually rooting for Kendrick at the Grammys in February, I know he is up for a lot of awards. I like that he is bringing consciousness back to the music and its not always the same ol turn up-strip club music. His music has a lot more substance, so I think for the Grammy’s to recognize him and for the industry to not be pissed at giving him those acolytes, I think we are creating more of a balance. It’s not like I don’t like the strip club music but you definitely need a balance.
And your 25th Anniversary Tour starts next month. What can fans of yours expect from it?
Well, its been a while since we’ve done a tour in this capacity, going to 28 cities in 30 days so a lot of these markets we haven’t been in and visited in a while. It will be good to see these people again and we have a brand new set that people have never seen before, and I don’t think a whole lotta people have seen a Naughty show in this capacity in a while. It is always high energy, we always dress up on stage and just give you a pure, raw, naughty experience so people should definitely come out. We also recommend that they bring their youngsters as well. We give them a hip-hop clinic on stage.
You also have a new EP coming out next year. What can you tell us about that?
Well, a lot of passion man. It’s been a while since Naughty By Nature released new music and Kay Gee, Treach and myself, we are all focused on this new EP. So we will kind of 25 years of our experiences, ups and downs, you will hear it and feel it all in the music.
Lastly, what are you hopeful for in 2016 and beyond regarding the future of Naughty By Nature?
I just think sky’s the limit. Look at Jay-Z, Diddy, 50 Cent are doing out there. Even other peers like Queen Latifah and Will Smith, it is like hip-hop just opens the spectrum for you to do whatever you mind can imagine. If you want to go into politics, technology, deeper into television and film, the sky really is the limit. I thank god for hip-hop and the 25 year blessing and where we decided to take it is up to us, there is no boundaries.
For all things Naughty By Nature, check out their official site.