Naughty By Nature’s Self-Titled Sophomore Album Turns 32

Naughty by Nature is one of the most iconic groups in Hip-Hop. The trio released their self-titled sophomore studio album 32 years ago, a body of work that holds tremendous weight in the pantheon of rap classics. The group is often recognized as pioneers of East Coast Hip Hop, contributing to the genre’s development from 1989 through the ‘90s. Moreover, Naughty by Nature’s music had crossover appeal that expanded their fanbase beyond Hip-Hop heads. Their discography also consists of important masterpieces like Poverty’s Paradise.

Their catchy hooks and relatable lyrics made their music accessible to a wide audience. Evidently, this mainstream appeal significantly contributed to their success. It wields much more than just mainstream appeal, however. Many regard the project as a breakthrough album for Naughty By Nature and a groundbreaking album in the genre as a whole. In the 32 years since its release, Naughty By Nature has stayed relevant, and still packs a great punch. 

Background And Release

Naughty by Nature, consisting of members Treach, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee formed in the late ‘80s. The group released its debut album Independent Leaders in 1989. After that, they followed up two years later with their self-titled album, Naughty By Nature. Released on September 3, 1991, the album was an instant hit. It also established their signature style of blending socially conscious lyrics with infectious beats. As a matter of fact, Naughty By Nature is arguably the group’s most iconic album.

Production And Musical Style

The early ‘90s marked a significant shift in the Hip Hop landscape, with artists like Naughty by Nature contributing to the genre’s expansion and diversification. Their music blended gritty elements of East Coast Hip Hop with a more accessible, radio-friendly sound. At the same time, their lyrical content was expansive. Naughty By Nature addressed a range of topics on this album. Still, it was their clever wordplay and storytelling skills that elevated the project.

The album’s heavy use of samples allowed the group to tie together a variety of genres to form their own signature sounds. From Jackson 5’s “ABC” to D.O.C’s “It’s Funky Enough,” they incorporated elements from various influences. DJ Kay Gee’s production played a crucial role in crafting the album into a classic, along with assistance from fellow producer “Little Louie” Vega.

Naughty By Nature Tracklist

Naughty by Nature showcases the group’s rap talents, with assistance from notable features. Queen Latifah is featured on the second track, “Wickedest Man Alive,” while Lakim Shabazz and Apache appear on “1,2,3,” and Aphrodity on “Rhyme’ll Shine On.” Evidently, throughout the 13-track album, the group members all display their innate aptitude for rap. Naughty By Nature released only three key singles from the album, namely “O.P.P.,” “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” and “Uptown Anthem.” The iconic lead single “O.P.P.” became the album’s standout track, and significantly contributed to the album’s commercial success. The track popularly samples “ABC” by The Jackson 5. It is also one of the most memorable and enduring Hip Hop anthems of the early ‘90s.

Critical And Commercial Success

Naughty by Nature became a hit upon its release. It received widespread acclaim and achieved considerable commercial success, peaking at number 16 on the Billboard 200 chart. Critics rated the album favorably, and had particular praise for the album’s lead single, “O.P.P.” Furthermore, the single was also a major driving force of the album’s commercial success and peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was the only song on the album to peak within the top 10 of the chart. Despite the generally underwhelming chart performance of its singles, excluding “O.P.P.,” Naughty By Nature was greatly enjoyed by music enthusiasts, and was certified platinum just five months after its release. 

The Legacy Of Naughty By Nature

The impact of Naughty by Nature extended beyond music, with references to “O.P.P.” and Naughty by Nature’s style continuing to appear in various forms of pop culture. In summary, the album is considered a classic in East Coast Hip Hop, and rap music at large. It also helped define the sound of an era, and has an enduring 32-year-old legacy so far. Conclusively, Naughty by Nature remains a pivotal work in the group’s career that captured the spirit of early ‘90s Hip Hop.