Straight Ballin’ – Naughty By Nature
January 12, 2007, 4:44 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

The thing that I have enjoyed most about this blog is that it has forced me to look back through my collection and listen to albums that have been out of rotation for a long time. As with ‘Labcabicalifornia’, ‘Poverty’s Paradise’ may not be deemed classic material in the sense that the group’s earlier releases are, but personally I regard this as the most consistent and dopest of Naughty’s output.

Naughty By Nature are the perfect hip hop crossover group. Catchy hooks and a lyrical focus on the benefits of a good party keep the casual listener happy, but there is also a grittiness to their beats which complements their highly accomplished flow and engages the more serious hip hop fan. The light seems to generally fall on the first couple of albums due to the presence of the classic party anthems ‘O.P.P.’ and ‘Hip Hop Hooray’ and as a result ‘Poverty’s Paradise’ does seem to get overlooked somewhat despite a Best Rap Album Grammy. It still has it’s fair share of hits with ‘Craziest’ and ‘Feel Me Flow’ which build on the groundwork made by earlier hits, but there literally isn’t a bad track on here which is perhaps more than can be said for their self-titled debut and ’19 Naughty III’.

I love the opening to the album which features a brief excerpt from a live show followed by a piano based cut that introduces the theme for the album. This is followed by ‘Clap Yo Hands’, a sensational cut featuring a sample from a Sam and Dave song and some slammin’ snares. ‘World Go Round’ features a loop from Michael Jackson’s version of ‘People Make The World Go Round’ sped up and laid over the top of some more dope drum programming and ‘Respect Due’ is also an absolute belter with more of the same: big beats and dope rhymes. Generally the production is excellent, retaining a strong street feel but whilst keeping a sense of the soulful dusty grooves that went into the construction of the songs.

Treach and Vinnie’s flows are amongst the best that the genre has ever seen, varying in tone and intonation with forays into some lines that feel almost as if they are being sung. Clever wordplay and similes mean that they not just a success because of their style of delivery; there is content here to match. The main focus remains the same as earlier releases: parties, women, street narratives and braggin’ but it is done with such quality that like all great MCs they forge an incredibly strong sense of their own identity. I can only imagine how great it would have been to see the group at this point in time, with Treach and Vinnie ripping through classic after classic and getting the crowd properly hyped: real live hip hop.

This was also one of the first hip hop albums that I ever bought, and it takes me back to when I was thirteen finishing my homework and playing ‘Lemmings’ on the PC whilst listening to my ‘Poverty’s Paradise’ tape to death. I loved it then and I love it now, a true indicator of the fact that although I didn’t really know it at the time, I had tapped into something that epitomised quality hip hop of the era. As with yesterday’s post, this personal history obviously taints my objectivity when approaching the album but I don’t care: this is undeniably dope.

Keep locked into FDB over the weekend as I have a couple of special compilations in mind as well as a little bit more stuff on some of the technology that has been so important in the world of hip hop. See you then.

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