Keeping it Jersey

'90s hip hop icon Treach from Naughty by Nature talks about two decades in the rap game

'90s hip hop icon Treach from Naughty by Nature talks about two decades in the rap game

Treach, Naughty by Nature, rap, rapper, November 2012
Naughty by Nature's Treach took a break from the studio project to talk with CultureMap about his two-decade career in music. Egyptsaidso.com
Naughty by Nature, rap, Treach, November 2012
Naughty by Nature plays Austin's Beauty Bar Ballroom on Friday. Acclaim.com
Treach, Naughty by Nature, rap, rapper, November 2012
Naughty by Nature, rap, Treach, November 2012

This fall marks 21 years since Naughty by Nature stormed the airwaves with "O.P.P." — a raw-but-catchy track that spent weeks in the Billboard Top Ten to become one of hip hop's greatest crossover successes. 

The New Jersey-based trio's ability to maintain a hard edge while maneuvering its way to massive popularity helped open the doors for grittier West Coast gangster classics like Dr. Dre's The Chronic and Ice Cube's Predator as well as East Coast acts like Wu-Tang and Biggie.

"Hip hip is a w hole sort of mentality and it becomes a part of you," Treach explained, "or at least that's how it's worked for me."

In advance of the group's Friday night performance in Austin, Naughty by Nature's Treach took a break from recording a new studio project to talk with CultureMap about staying strong in the rap game for more than two decades.

"It's crazy to think that when hip hop started some 30-odd years ago, people thought it was just a fad," he said.

"Since then, the music's always been evolving, just switching and changing all the time. Each decade's got all these different styles and looks and it's cool to see how that's all become a part of hip hop today. We all know it's here to stay now, especially after watching all these youngsters come up through the years."

Treach joked about owing Naughty by Nature's longevity to staying hydrated and taking regular cat naps before offering up some earnest advice for a younger generation of musicians.

As far as what Austin fans m ight expect on Friday, all he would say is that the trio would be "plugging in the time machine" and "keeping it Jersey."

"Hip hop is a whole sort of mentality and it becomes a part of you, or at least that's how it's worked for me. You've got all these people who've been around for years, from L.L. to Ice-T to Kool Mo Dee to Melle Mel to Kurtis Blow. They're still all out on the road just killing audiences with these great shows. Whether it's new or old, it's always going to be hip hop."

As far as what Austin fans might expect on Friday, all Treach would say is that the trio would be "plugging in the time machine" and "keeping it Jersey"... which, personally, is a pretty fantastic way to describe an upcoming show.

"We definitely have this chemistry that comes out when we're onstage. It has a lot to do with the fans, I think. It's a beautiful thing how these people have been supporting us for 20 years. We want to give them what they want, not just what we want. It's like when you have kids, how it's just not really about you anymore. We're there for the fans. That's our job description." 

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Naughty by Nature plays Beauty Bar Ballroom at 8 p.m. on Friday. Click for tickets and details.