By Michael Cerio

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Where does Naughty By Nature fit into the history of hip hop?

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After twenty-five years of rhyme-slinging, the trio from East Orange, New Jersey have a few timeless staples in their set – the arm-swaying “Hip Hop Hooray” and the infidelity anthem “O.P.P.” are standards at this point. They are dance floor favorites that never lost their strength of street knowledge. It’s music that is so good that the pop world came to them, and not vice versa.

Beyond the bangers, Naughty By Nature was known just as much for fierceness as they were for setting off a party. Their brand of storytelling with a sense of danger was a dominant force through the nineties, but the output eventually slowed for Treach, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee.

“We got out the box really quick with really big records, really big crossover records” remembers Naughty’s Vin Rock before the group’s Sunday show at The TLA in Philadelphia. “Just our three different business ventures – Kay Gee running the record label, Treach doing television and film, me really running the digital and fan relations and merchandise – I think just the energies went elsewhere, and I believe we definitely could have put out a lot more music in this twenty-five year time span.”

Perhaps that’s what slowed the momentum of Naughty By Nature. Buoyed by a handful of chart-toppers and a vibrant live show, can the trio ever completely fill the big shoes they built in 1991?

“I just think this twenty-five year reset, we get to really look at that. Look at the twenty-five years, look at our output, look at what our peers are doing, and for the next twenty-five years go out there and continue to aggressively compete.”

There’s a united front from Naughty By Nature these days with their anniversary celebration, but things were far less civil in 2013. Treach fired Vin via Twitter, and even went on to record a diss track towards him called “Tall Midget”. That dispute played out in public, but Vin says that’s all behind them now.

“Everything is cool. I think, just, brothers fight” he explains. “We’ve literally been together since we were fourteen years old, fifteen years old – we’re forty-five and forty-six years old now. You’re bound to have some kind of discrepancies, some kind of personal adjustments.”

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“We all got on the same bus to knock out this twenty-seven date joint, so if it was about business everybody would have their own bus, so all of that is nonsense.”

Naughty By Nature’s stop in Philadelphia marked not only the end of their tour, but also the end of their Kickstarter campaign to fund a twenty-fifth anniversary EP. With a goal of 100K, the campaign came up short by over 65 thousand dollars. However, Vin doesn’t see this as a waning of support, but rather a skepticism towards Kickstarter itself.

“I’m not sure what happened with the raising of it. We definitely got a lot of support and a lot of publicity about it, but I don’t know man. Maybe some artists or some people aren’t delivering on these projects and people are a little crazy about them” describes Vin.

Despite the lack of crowdsourced funding, the plan is still in place for a new EP to celebrate Naughty By Nature’s twenty-fifth anniversary. “Absolutely. We already started on the EP. Before we even left to tour, we started compiling tracks and ideas, and along this run different ideas popped out, so now when we settle a bit after this run we’ll go in and start banging it out.”

As for today’s landscape, Vin Rock stands impressed by peers like Jay Z and Diddy who have made the most of things and have fulfilled the promise of hip hop – from the streets to success in the Fortune 500 club. He also offers up some insight on the “phenomenon” of Kanye West. “We all know some of our most creative people in history, don’t have it all” he laughs. “Besides that I think that he’s really hurt inside. With this journey and with this success, he kind of lost one of the biggest things in his life which was his mother.”

“I lost my mom at seventeen years old and she never got to see any of my success, so I can imagine taking that ride with my mother and then just all of the sudden she passes away unexpectedly. So I think in that sense Kanye may have not had a total chance to heal” says Vin. “He’s a hurt kid man.”

To hear more from Vin Rock of Naughty By Nature, check out the full interview below.


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