My local claim to fame, hip hop wise, isn’t a huge one, but it’s still cool none the less. I ran NZ’s first dedicated local hip hop website at http://www.hip-hop.co.nz, for about five years. Hip hop is without a doubt a true passion of mine, and nothing is better than local hip hop.
This post obviously isn’t about local hip hop, but it is about hip hop. While everyone else around here was busy claiming their first exposures to hip hop being things like Grandmaster Flash and such, I had a guilty little secret.
Despite my age, my first memories of hip hop wasn’t anything rooted in the 80’s. Sure, I grew up in the 80’s and 80’s music had a profound effect on me, but nothing during that period coming out of hip hop made me have that moment of realisation that this was it. That didn’t come until the end of the 80’s with a rather catchy and bouncy track during one of our hot local summers. That track was Naughty By Nature’s O.P.P.
That was it for me. A year or so later and I was in college seeping up all the hip hop I could get. And Naughty By Nature’s first album was right along with me, teaching me textbook mastery of flow and beat and what tight lyrics were all about.
Despite that, it’s Naughty’s third album Poverty’s Paradise that makes the grade with me. Their first two albums had some bloody classic hip hop tracks, and arguably that’s something that didn’t happen on their third album. While their early work had stuff like O.P.P. and Hip Hop Hooray, all Poverty’s Paradise had was Feel Me Flow.
Sure, Poverty’s Paradise doesn’t have the rawness of the previous two albums, and it doesn’t have the sure fire anthems of their previous work, but what it did have was incredible refinement. Producer and DJ Kay Gee really hit his stride with this album. The beats are flawless and carry track to track. Rappers Vinnie and Treach don’t miss a beat with flow and wordplay that is really lacking these days.
Strange to think that this album is now over ten years old.
Content wise, it’s nothing new. It’s about hanging out with your friends, playing dice. Being hassled by cops. Shouting out your mates. All the typical stuff, but done with solid style.
Things took a little turn for the worst after this album. They released another as a group, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good, with Kay Gee taking an interest in R&B production. I think that Naughty’s beats suffered for it.
If I had to pick an album that had a great personal impact on me, and to hold up as what hip hop is about, this is it. Yeah, I know. Big claim there. And I know almost no one will agree with me. But, it’s a personal choice. And also one of the first CD’s I ever bought.
If you wanna hear how hip hop used to sound back in the hey day of the 90’s, with a group who knew it’s roots and had put in the hard yards, and was being true to themselves during the meteoric rise of gangsta and R&B, this is it.