Photographer: Maynard Snyder.
The rap game has changed significantly since Naughty by Nature arrived on the scene 20 years ago with 1991's seminal Naughty by Nature album. Even since their last album in 2002, nearly a decade has passed -- an eternity in the rap industry and enough time for "hip-hop" to become a historical term. Treach, Vin Rock, and Kay Gee (together again for the first time since 1999's 19 Naughty Nine: Nature's Fury) are well aware of their status as veterans on 2011's Anthem Inc., and are eager to regain acceptance from a community that forgot about them. The group members never seem bitter and celebrate their longevity, thanking a crowd for sticking with them in the live intro, and recognizing their career highlights by tacking revisions of their five biggest singles on the end. Of course, these newly recorded versions are no substitutions for the original "Hip Hop Hooray," "O.P.P.," "Feel Me Flow," "Uptown Anthem," and "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," and seem more like they exist for the sole purpose of showing that the trio can still perform the classics on tour. The rest of the tracks aren't bad, though, and notwithstanding a few speed bumps, the trio retains the core sound that made it famous. The thug sentiments, boom-bap beats, and big pop hooks of "Perfect Party" and "Flags" recall those of their crossover smashes, and, partly due to a chorus provided by Queen Latifah, "God Is Us" is a buttery-smooth highlight. ~ Jason Lymangrover