TIM EINENKEL: First off, how does it feel to have Kay Gee back in the group?
VIN ROCK: Yeah, it’s good, man. You know, we all started this group in high school basically. So, you know, we assemble ourselves, no one put us together and we’ve always been in control of what we did. So, when we lost Kay as a producer and DJ and you know, not only did we lose him from the studio perspective, we lost him from the stage perspective, as well as personally. When Kay got back in the mix it was a great thing to have an old friend back plus all of that talent.
TIM EINENKEL: This is your 7th album, Anthem Inc., and you guys have been together and in the game for so long. Has the process of making the album changed?
VIN ROCK: Nah, nah. Not really. Pretty much the same, you know. Kay is at the helm of the production, and now since he’s been working on the R&B, he has a team of different producers and writers who help out with different ideas. And, you know Treach comes in, hears tracks, build on ideas; it’s pretty much the same process.
TIM EINENKEL: How is this album, Anthem Inc., different from your previous ones? What can fans expect after coping the album? Is there a theme to this album?
VIN ROCK: Not really a theme but, you know basically our same format because we always have like conscious records. So there is a great record on there called “God is Us,” featuring Queen Latifah, where Treach is building and just talking about some of the social ills of the world and we still have our traditional party jams like “Perfect Party,” featuring Joe. We have more grimy records like “Yoke The Joker” or the “Uptown Anthem” type feel in a song called “Naughty Nature.” Basically it’s the same format but it’s just the experience, new experience we’re bringing to the table.
TIM EINENKEL: I want to talk more about the album. You guys include all your hits like “Uptown Anthem,” “Hip Hop Hooray,” and “OPP,” was there a reason behind including these hits in the album?
VIN ROCK: Yeah, a primary reason was we re-recorded those songs so we own the master recordings and now, you know when people want to license the record for movies, T.V. shows or videogames, they can come directly to us and get an entirely different rate, than you know then the initial publishing deal we did. And then on the album we wanted to do like a “then” and “now” because of course people have heard of us but there’s a whole new generation that hasn’t heard of us. So, we gave them all new material and then we re-recorded the throwbacks just to refresh the audience for what we were known for.
TIM EINENKEL: And as we just mentioned, you guys gave everybody a lot of hits with “Uptown Anthem,” “OPP” and “Feel Me Flow,” and I'm wondering if you were ever surprised at how fast some songs popped off better then the others? Are there deep cuts that you wish the fans heard first?
VIN ROCK: Not really because personally I think, with the body of work, I think everyone has heard the records, but it’s good to have those sleeper records because the fans pull them up, like, songs like the “Chain Remains.” You know, I was on FaceBook the other day, someone posted that record and video; somebody posted a song and video we had called “Klickow-Klickow.” So, it’s good to dive into those records and have those be, you know our underground records that our core fans really like. It’s the good and the bad. Of course you have the OPP’s and the Uptown Anthem's and Hip Hop Hooray's but you definitely have those records as well and it’s not like I wish they were as big because in their own sense they are because people remember those records.
TIM EINENKEL: In a 2007 interview you said “We were definitely blessed in our career, just out of the box having two back-to-back huge singles - "O.P.P." and "Hip Hop Hooray" - on our first two albums. So, we had that MTV crowd, we've always had a crossover crowd, and we've always played to a crossover audience.” When you guys started out as a group in high school, did you guys know you wanted that crossover crowd or was there another crowd you guys were gunning for?
VIN ROCK: No, actually we knew nothing about a crossover crowd when we started creating music. From that quote, it sounds like when we were already established but from the door we never knew what the heck the people were like. Then being on Tommy Boy Records, and then having the De La Soul's and the Digital Underground's, they already penetrated that crossover market. So, you know they tend to identify records and market their artists to that audience. So, when they did that with “O.P.P.”, hey! it worked, we embraced it, we understood why it worked and basically 20 years later, I mean...and that’s part of the reason why we’re around, still around because we have a broader audience.
TIM EINENKEL: I want to go back to that 2007 interview. You’ve also said, “A lot of the younger artists today - I don't believe they really respect the culture or the foundation of the music. I don't think today you have a lot of records that stick - records that have legs for a decade-plus. These records, they're just disposable records...” Do you still think that statement holds true?
VIN ROCK: Yeah, I think so because of what the music is perceived has now. You know, most these kids see all the rappers with all the jewelry and cars and bragging about all of this extravagant lifestyle so that’s what attracts them to it, it’s more of the lifestyle than the actually music and culture itself. So I think, you know we’ve had basically the decade of 2000's. That whole 10 year gap, 2000 to 2010, with everyone flossing and just to me, turning the culture upside down or turning it into a strict materialistic culture but, I think now a lot of realities are setting in with the music industry, with people downloading the music for free, that money isn’t there, you know, the total income generated isn’t there. I see a lot of artists toning it down and toning down the jewelry, they’re toning down the big cars, and they are into the Camaros now and the domestic cars. So, I think the culture will start reflecting the times.
TIM EINENKEL: I want to go back to your new album, Anthem Inc., do you have a favorite track on that album?
VIN ROCK: Yes, I do. One “God Is Us,” featuring Queen Latifah and the other one is “Naughty Nation.”
TIM EINENKEL: Why are those tracks your favorite?
VIN ROCK: Because I believe “God Is Us,” for one is a more mature record; lyrically. You know with all of the nonsense that is going on today in Hip Hop and everyone saying there is a lot of empty lyrics, no message in the music, I believe that has a strong, you know overhaul message and tone to it. And then with “Naughty Nation,” it just goes back to, you know, the basics with Hip Hop; hard beats and just ill rhymes, you know, ill lyrics spit over the rhymes so that one is like a back to basics--basically both of the records are back to basics. If you listen to both of them, they are just two good solid records.
TIM EINENKEL: Right, and you have a huge catalogue of music, so I was just wondering if you had to pick 5 tracks, what would define the autobiography of Naughty by Nature?
VIN ROCK: I would say for one, “O.P.P.” because out the gate, we were young, horny guys, doing what we do. (laughs)
For two, I would say the “Craziest,” because all of that young wild energy man, with us coming up from the streets we were like daredevils for what we did and risk our lives for the sake of the culture and finding the culture to get out of that lifestyle. So we were some young crazy kids back then.
Then I would say, I would say something like the “Chain Remains” because once we came out and made it, we’ve always kept our hands to our community, we kept close ties to our community and we definitely never forgot those who have been there supporting us from day one and the ones who really couldn’t enjoy our success with it.
Number four would be…I would say “Feel Me Flow,” because it showed that we were able to create a universal vibe and show just the world and all of America that Hip-Hop isn’t just one thing, it’s a total thing. And, you know music is music, it touches everybody. No matter who you are, what culture, what background you come from.
And then number five would be “Hip Hop Hooray,” because you know, we live and die for Hip Hop and we definitely give props to our forefathers who’ve paved the way for us. So, that’s us putting a stamp on it; we realize we wouldn’t be here without the forefathers.
TIM EINENKEL: The new album is Anthem Inc., by Naughty by Nature. Vin, thanks so much for joining us on AndYouDontStop with Chuck D.
VIN ROCK: Alright. Thanks man. Peace to Chuck D. Peace to the whole P.E. family. I got my holiday text from Chuck D. wishing me a happy holiday and the family. So, definitely back to Chuck and the whole P.E. family. One love.
Tim Einenkel for HIPHOPGODS/RAPstation.com
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