Before their Vancouver show, I had the chance to chat with Treach, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee of Naughty By Nature. Over licorice, we chatted about their soon to come album Anthem Inc., what they think about the current music scene and collaborations, and how it feels to be back.
So where you guys at? What’s it like to be back full-time as the orginal trio? Everyone’s stoked to see you guys tonight!
Treach: We back in business. Me and Vin we’re still touring when Kay wasn’t with us but now it’s like the original elements are back. The fans were asking for it so we had to do it. Fans were telling us they weren’t feeling much of the new music that’s out there and that they we wanted to hear our original sound. We felt like we owed it to our fans.
You guys haven’t really taken a break because you’ve all still been dabbling in music, etc. What’s different this time around?
Treach: We’ve matured. Before, we didn’t know how to make hit records. We thought we were hot shit. Now, we’re like ninjas. No more karate kids, we’re Mr. Miyagi’s up in here.
You thought you were hot shit? You guys were hot shit! You guys are hip hop legends!
Treach: Yeah hearing that is beautiful but we had to build to that.
Vin Rock: It’s crazy. I remember us doing high school talent shows, competing at Club 88, putting out records, etc. Everything’s been a blur. It’s when we slowed down that the “legend” accolades starting coming. We never knew we were building what people call a legend. Getting the accolades is…wow, especially when we started as kids up on Kay’s second floor balcony fucking around. Next thing we know we’re a global legend.
Must be cool to see people still lose their shit when they hear OPP.
Vin Rock: It’s crazy when you get random texts, emails, phone calls from people saying, “Hey! I’m in Atlanta and the Dj just threw on a Naughty set and the crowd went crazy!”
How’s the music making process different?
DJ Kay Gee: It’s slightly different because times have changed. We have standards and certain things we want to do. You don’t want people to say why they doing this or why aren’t they doing this so you have to be cautious. You also don’t want to sound like your dated but you also don’t want to sound like you’re doing something out of the norm as well. So yeah, there’s been a slight change but not too much.
So what is Anthem Inc. about?
Vin Rock: Anthems baby, anthems! People bestow upon you what they want or observe. If we were known for being assholes, people would say, hey those Naughty guys are assholes. Fortunately we’ve been quoted as being the “kings of hip hop anthems” or “Naughty By Nature are known for anthems,” anthems this, anthems that. People keep saying it so we figured we’d call the album Anthem Inc.
Treach: We don’t want to be cocky. People would say, why you naming your album Icons? We’d say, we didn’t name it that, the people did. We decided to give the people what they’ve been giving back to us.
Vin Rock: If we’re assholes…
Treach:..we’ll name the album Assholes.
How do you guys feel about the current music scene?
Treach: It’s good and bad. And the bad ain’t really the artists fault, it’s the outlets: if the outlets only play a certain type of music, that’s what people will produce. For example, whether an artist is gangster or not, gangster music is what they’re going to try to make if that’s what they keep hearing. Same with party music. Same with everything.
There’s a lot of great artists out there, but not everyone can create an album and the public can see that. Back in the day, everybody had to sound and look different or you weren’t being played anywhere. You couldn’t have a record that sounded even a little bit similar to someone else’s. Right now everyone’s looking at it like a hustle so they’re making the kind of music that’s going to be played all day.
Vin Rock: With that said, I love the state of hip hop today. I look at it from a competitive standpoint. I look at what’s in the game and feel like Naughty By Nature can always compete. If people are responding to the music out there and they consider that hot, we can definitely get busy.
So if there was one thing about the music scene that you could change, what would it be? Or maybe nothing…
Treach: More Naughty material! Let’s flood ‘em with new Naughty.
DJ Kay Gee: The record companies!
Vin Rock: The exposure to diversity. There’s so many underground artists or artists who haven’t been discovered. There’s a lot of G’s out there on the streets telling their stories. There’s a lot of political rap, feel good music, and all sorts of other great music, it’s just underground. There’s different fusions of music. There’s a lot of flavor out there. The channels are so narrow right now that you’re only getting five to seven artists across the board globally. If they were able to spread that out to 30 artists you’d have so much flavour in those 30 artists that there would be something for everyone listening.
Technology allows people to discover new music at live venues. A lot of people are tired of being fed the same four songs on the radio all day. People start to seek out different stuff. There’s nothing like that live experience. You go into a club, in particular a shitty hole in the wall club, and the band will be rocking out and nothing can compare to that. That’s how true music lovers will continue to discover music.
What are your plans for the next year?
DJ Kay Gee: Getting bigger and better. To really get back into the game as far as consistently dropping music.
Think you’ll do any collaborations?
Vin Rock: Collaborations will evolve. The growth that happens from focusing on becoming tighter internally and being consistent attracts people.
DJ Kay Gee: Let me ask you this, why do journalists always ask that? Are collaborations something the consumer likes to see happen?
Vin Rock: It’s a talking point…
Honestly, I’m indifferent to collaborations . Sometimes they’re great, sometimes they’re not. A lot of people out there do care and that’s why I ask. People get excited over possible collaboration comments. Or sometimes I ask strictly to learn more about the band and the kind of artists they would potentially like to work with.
DJ Kay Gee: I’m curious. Do people expect collaborations?
Treach: I’d like to ask a question…
Treach: Did you see how smoothly Naughty By Nature started interviewing you?
Yes… I noticed! I’m cool with it! I like conversational interviews. But I’m the boss here so back to my questions… In regards to collaborations, like Vin says, it’s a talking point and it’s interesting to see what people say.
DJ Kay Gee: Has the industry come to a point where people expect everyone to collaborate?
I don’t think people expect it but that being said, its more and more common. You look at some albums and each track is a collab. It makes you wonder if the album could stand alone without all the collabs.
Treach: With Naughty, you won’t see a lot of collabs on the album. Our fans want to hear Naughty so that’s what we’re giving them.
DJ Kay Gee: Plus, we look at our records as performances. If you have that many people on your record, you can’t perform that record.
Vin Rock: I believe in collaborations when you get great artists working together. Look at what Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney put together..[insert Vin singing].
DJ Kay Gee: Yeah that was a classic but now people aren’t getting together to create classics. They’re getting together for marketing purposes.
Vin Rock: Everybody today is just making records for marketing purposes. They don’t give a fuck about the culture of music, they’re just trying to get a cheque.
Treach: I’d love to hear Plies on tracks. There’s certain artists I want to hear on shit. Weezy was on so much shit last year. It wasn’t that I was tired of him, but it was like, does he ever stop, he just keeps coming with it.
Vin Rock: That’s like Nicki Minaj, she just keeps delivering those verses!
Treach: Yeah and you can’t be mad at Nicki, you gotta love her: Nicki’s rockin’. For me as a fan of music in general, the right collabs will always work.
DJ Kay Gee: But it’s starting to get predictable now. It’s like, ok this record is starting to blow up…therefore you can expect a Nicki Minaj collab very soon.
Treach: It’s great when an artist doesn’t sound the same on every collab. That’s when you see who has talent.
Well that’s what differentiates one album or artist from the next right?
Treach: Exactly, that’s why our albums have always been Naughty. There are collabs are on our new album and whether you know the artist or you never heard them before, they’re going to sound different.
Great, I’m excited! Well thanks very much for the chat and for the twizzlers, which by the way are very fresh and delicious! Looking forward to the show and your new album!
Treach: Have some more! [pointing to DJ Kay Gee and Vin Rock] These two are the twizzler champs. Make sure you get up by the stage, you are our people!