Review Summary: Hip-Hop trio silence the naysayers with yet another U.S Top 10 single, but the progression here is minor and this album does not match up to its impressive predecessor.
Despite its overall quality and ability to appeal to both hardcore rap fans as well as the mainstream populous, Naughty By Nature’s self-titled 1991 release was discounted as a fluke by many pundits. It was most likely predominantly due to the chart success of fantastic lead single ‘O.P.P’ and the fact that a number of the tracks included on the album lent towards the poppy side. Critics obviously believed that the New Jersey trio would not be able to replicate ‘O.P.P’ and simply fall off the face of the Earth.
Unfortunately for those cynics - and fortunately for Naughty By Nature (NBN) fans - they were not to know that the lead single from this follow-up release, track 2 ‘Hip Hop Hooray’, was about to be unleashed on the masses to see the group once more crack the American Top 10 singles charts. Containing a bouncy flow and a body-moving chorus, the cut became an anthem of sorts for mainstream hip-hop. Adding to its effectiveness and going further to differentiate from the singles from the previous album was the back and forth dueling vocals by Treach & Vinnie, a method which was used way too sparingly on the self-titled effort.
Where ’19 Naughty III’ is not quite up to its predecessor is in the back-up department. Unfortunately, there is not a tune anywhere near as monumental as the self-titled’s ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ to act as 2nd single, although 3 cuts come fairly close. The first of them, track 3 ‘Ready For Dem’, utilizes guest vocals by Heavy D to provide further contrast to Treach’s rapid-fire delivery and Vinnie’s more laidback style. All the while a slightly Caribbean feel lurks in the background of the effective chorus, before fully showing itself on the outro.
Elsewhere, the 2 tracks co-produced by S.I.D Reynolds also shine through. Track 7 ‘The Only Ones’ cleverly incorporates a sample of Nu Shooz’s pop hit ‘I Can’t Wait’ to assist in giving it a feel-good bouncy vibe that makes it an up-tempo dance-floor favorite. Meanwhile, the following ‘It’s On’ suitably begins with 2 minutes of multiple conversations to help establish its totally addictive horn loop that ably backs up the song’s contagious nature where back and forth vocals are once more used very well.
Similarly to the group’s previous release, the album tracks that make up the remainder of ’19 Naughty III’ are nowhere near awful, but have a difficult time distinguishing themselves from the pack. There are some shorter cuts (‘Take It To Ya Face’, ‘Cruddy Clique’, ‘Knock Em Out Da Box’ and ‘Sleepwalkin II’), some more guest vocals (Rottin Razkals on ‘Knock Em Out Da Box’, Freddie Foxxx on ‘Hot Potato’ and regular collaborator Queen Latifah on the funky ‘Sleepin’ On Jersey’), and finally some cuts which clearly suggest that NBN have not forgotten their roots (the ghetto-grounded ‘Daddy Was A Street Corner’, free-flowing ‘The Hood Comes First’ and aforementioned ‘Sleepin’ On Jersey’). All of these are relatively solid, but unspectacular, songs which once more show the trio’s ability to combine old-school rap with mainstream R&B/pop in a manner which never lets potentially stereotypical themes run riot.
Lyrically, nothing is off-putting in a similar way as to what can be heard on some of the more recent hip-hop releases. In fact, it is all pretty solid stuff. However, there is a lack of impact and memorability about the words used throughout this release that disappoints a little. Where NBN were the masters of the humorous put-down on their self-titled album, they very rarely have the same effect here, with Vinnie’s “You ain’t ready, remarkable or regal. You’re the f**kin’ reason that abortion $hit is legal” on ‘Ready For Dem’ coming the closest.
Ultimately, what we have here is a good album which does enough to fend off the doubting naysayers, but does not match up to its impressive predecessor. The progression shown on ‘19 Naughty III’ is minor (if sufficient), while all 3 members of Naughty By Nature do steadily mature and improve to suggest that they are capable of much more in the future.
Recommended Tracks: Hip Hop Hooray, It’s On & The Only Ones.