Released back in 1992, this week’s track of the week comes in the form of east-coast hip-hop trio, Naughty By Nature. The acclaimed hip-hop group have won countless Grammys and have collaborated with the likes of other musicians such as Heavy D, Big Pun and Master P. Although their style and flow was dubbed under the genre ‘hardcore rap’ due to their aggressive nature and violent content, it always carried undertones of significantly positive messages. Naughty By Nature were founded in 1989 in East Orange, New Jersey. Also home to artists Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah, the area had one of the highest crime rates in the states due to gang conflict. The group first emerged when it’s three members, Treach, Kay Gee and Vin Rock finished school and were performing together under the name ‘New Style’. After they released their first album in 1989, Queen Latifah became somewhat of an advisor for the group and, under her advice, they changed their name to Naughty By Nature after a popular song of theirs with the same name.
‘Uptown Anthem’ came after the change in name on the self-titled album ‘Naughty By Nature’ which was released on Tommy Boy records back in 1991. The album was an unprecedented success and five months later, it had already been certified platinum. Now although the album is packed to the rafters with hits, its success was mostly down to their hit release ‘O.P.P’, a song which would go on to reach number six in the Billboard charts. However, the track at hand here is ‘Uptown Anthem’ and the popularity of other songs here should not detract from the quality of this one whatsoever. The song starts with a classic and almost dramatic melody which then becomes laced by the aggressively fast and explosive flows of Treach. The impressive instrumental is a product of the group’s producer, Dj Kay Gee, and it samples Fred Wesley and The J.B’s 1973 hit, ‘More Peas’. The beat was so popular that it was used for the soundtrack to the 1992 crime film ‘Juice’. The film starred Tupac Shakur, Samuel L Jackson and featured a handful of cameos, such as Naughty By Nature’s very own Treach. In fact, Tupac Shakur ended up featuring in the music video for the song back in 1992.
The song coincided perfectly with the group’s ‘hardcore’ style with it’s provocative chorus “We gonna break, We gonna bash, We gonna roll, We gonna smash”, something which the group were becoming more and more identifiable with. The song ended up finishing number 27 in the rap charts of 1992 while the album seamlessly drifted into Source magazine’s top 100 albums of the year. So go on, let Naughty By Nature kickstart your new year in the best possible way, with some funky, hard-hitting hip-hop.
Listen & enjoy here –