Infighting doesn’t stop Naughty By Nature

CorrespondentMay 18, 2013 

Naughty by Nature.

COURTESY OF NAUGHTY BY NATURE

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    Who: Naughty by Nature

    When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

    Where: CCB Plaza, 201 N. Corcoran St., Durham

    Cost: Free

    Details: 919-560-4355; durhamnc.gov

Vin “Vinnie” Rock doesn’t want to talk about it.

The East Orange, N.J.-born M.C. from the famous East Coast hip-hop group Naughty by Nature isn’t in the mood to discuss the feud between him and Treach, his partner-in-rhyme in the group, that’s gotten a lot of press in the past couple of weeks.

“I understand the situation is what it is, but we’re professional and we’ll work through it,” says Rock (real name: Vincent Brown), on the phone from his home in West Orange, N.J. “We have a lot of people working with us behind the scenes to resolve whatever issues, you know, that are on the table and, you know, just keep it moving.”

It appears that it’s Treach (aka Anthony Criss) who has been making this beef with his longtime colleague quite public. In a recent radio interview, he claimed that Rock sucker-punched him during a meeting two years ago and hasn’t spoken to him since. Treach has also dropped a diss record called “Tall Midget,” obviously aimed at Rock, where the chorus goes, “Industry rule number 100 is funny, tall midgets get short money.” This isn’t the first time there has been infighting within the group. In 1999, Treach and longtime DJ Kay Gee (Kier Gist) had a dispute regarding the group’s finances, prompting Kay Gee to briefly leave the group.

Surprisingly, despite all this inner drama, Naughty by Nature still continues to perform. In fact, they’ll be in Durham as the headlining act for this year’s 44th Annual Bimbe Cultural Arts Festival. “We have an itinerary all the way up until September 21,” confirms Rock. “So, we’re definitely gonna knock out the itinerary, do the shows.”

There’s only one question that remains: how do they check all that mess at the door and perform on the same stage?

“The thing is, whatever differences we’ve had – I mean, obviously, it’s been happening for a minute, but we do 7,500 shows a year and no one ever knew anything that was going on,” says Rock. “So that just goes to show how we handle the stage, man. Once we’re on that stage, it’s about the music and the fans.”

Crazy as it seems, Naughty by Nature maintains their rep as dedicated hardcore rappers, even though they’re now in fortysomething mode. They still do the same thugged-out, yet catchy, hip-hop anthems (“O.P.P.,” “Hip Hop Hooray”) that made them Grammy-winning, platinum-selling stars more than two decades ago. “We have high energy, lots of crowd participation and we perform, we give it to them,” says Rock.

“We go out there and growl and sweat … That’s what we are by nature. That’s what we do by nature. So, that stage, man – we can do that blindfolded, performing backwards and still kill ’em.”

Rock also feels that Naughty by Nature is more than just three guys doing hip-hop – it’s a brand. With Treach already an established actor (he will soon appear alongside fellow rapper/thespian Method Man in the upcoming TV drama “South Side”) and Kay Gee as a sought-after hip-hop/R&B producer, these gentleman have always branched out and looked for other endeavors besides performing.

“It’s about growth and diversity of the band, not staying touring and just staying stagnant,” says Rock. “No, that’s a waste of time to me.”

So no matter how naughty the boys of Naughty by Nature get behind the scenes, they will still play nice for their audiences.

“The people have nothing to do with the back end of whatever is going on,” says Rock. “I mean, so many different musicians in every music genre, they go through the same thing. Maybe the artists only interact with each other when they’re onstage performing. And once the curtains go down, everyone goes their own way. I mean that’s been going on, I’m sure, since the beginning of live music performances, you know.”

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