Review Summary: 1996 Grammy Award Winner for Best Rap Album overcomes a sluggish first 3rd to eventually get close to being NBN's best, if most inconsistent, album to date.
As the mid 1990's approached, rap and hip-hop was evolving at a rather swift rate. Artists in the genre were demanding more mainstream attention, with chart success and everything which flows on from that being a resultant perk. In truth, Naughty By Nature (NBN) had no issue with chart success on their 2nd & 3rd albums (first 2 under the NBN name) with each release's lead single cracking the U.S Top Ten. But with recent albums from Wu Tang Clan, Nas, Notorious B.I.G & 2Pac causing a stir in the hip-hop community, the New Jersey trio would need to adapt and grow on their next release if they wanted to remain relevant and successful. About a third of the way through 'Poverty's Paradise', it seems doubtful that NBN can pull off such a feat.
It all begins well enough with a couple of useful short (less than a minute each) introductory pieces (a live clip and a piano-backed spoken word explanation of the album title) effectively leading into the free-flowing beat and bass-driven single 'Clap Yo Hands'. An excellent 2nd verse by the improved Vinnie and a rapid-fire final verse by Treach complement the involving two-part chorus which makes this such a live favorite. However, the following 5 tracks range from poor (the gritty 'City of Ci-Lo'), to fairly bland ('Holdin Fort' and the personal 'Chain Remains') to protege assisted solid but unspectacular cuts ('Hang Out and Hustle' & the rather groovy 'Its Workin').
Fortunately, 'Poverty's Paradise's' eventual runing time stretches out to 62 minutes, so NBN have plenty of time to make up for the disappointing first 3rd of the album. And like a racing-car driver that initially toys with their opposition, NBN do so by switching gears come track 9 'Feel Me Flow' and taking their music to a totally different level. Cracking the U.S Top 20 Singles chart, this is a smooth piece where Treach's up-tempo delivery expertly gels perfectly with Kaygee's soulfully groovy background music.
'Feel Me Flow' is then immediately followed by the atmospheric album highlight 'Craziest', which sees both Treach & Vinnie deliver contenders for the greatest vocal performances of each's career! Treach’s vocal pace here is excellent and he earns the right to sing a line such as “Wasn’t driving too fast, I was flying too low. You think I’m rocking too quick, I think you’re listening too slow”. And while "(insert city name) niggas are the craziest" is not exactly the most original and innovative chorus in musical history, it is an involvingly effective one.
Not long later comes 'Respect Due', which much better achieves the kind of cut that was aimed at in some of the bland earlier tracks. It does this by nicely combining the bass & beat of 'Clap Yo Hands' with a verse similar to that of Vinnie's contribution to 'Craziest'. Vinnie is definitely out to prove a point on this album and he does it well, even if he tends to play on the same theme a little too much. Here, he convincingly claims “I’m hearing niggas in the game yappin’ this yappin that, Talkin’ Vinnie don’t write and Vinnie can’t rap. But I bet you if you put a pen and a pad in my hand, I could write it in your face my friend, put it on tape and then. Give it to my nigga Kaygee, he produces me, Pump it through the Flavor Unit and send it through the industry”.
Thankfully, NBN do not stop there and actually go on to add some quality variety during the middle stages of the album. 'Sunshine' is a slower piece with a sexier vibe (both lyrically and musically), while 'World Go Round' sees the guys return to using a Micahel Jackson sample which those with good memories will recall so ably assisted their biggest hit yet 'O.P.P'. Said sample here (from 'People Make The World Go Round') is basically the entire chorus as Treach raps impressively around it with pointed lyrics such as "Why do we get so much into this freeing Willy when Willy is free, he and them ain't doing $hit to free my city".
The superior quality does not quite continue all the way through to the end of the album, but there are some noteworthy additions to the final quarter of 'Poverty's Paradise' via two impressively aggressive cuts which are actually all the better for the protege assists (of Rottin Razkals, Cruddy Click, Road Dawgs & Kandi Kain) to both the choruses and verses of 'Klickow-Klickow’ and the closing 'Connections'. Hell, even the now customary spoken-word 'Shout Out' is worthwhile (if overlong at 7 minutes) here due to Gordon Chambers' soulful contribution to give the track a genuine chorus.
Following a sluggish and disappointing beginning that is not helped by some unwise track ordering, Naughty By Nature lift their game to new heights here on 'Poverty's Paradise'. Possibly the trio's most inconsistent effort, there are undoubtedly some deep lows included here, but there are also more dizzying highs than ever before. Often playing backseat roles to Treach in the past, both Vinnie and Kaygee step it up big time here, with their greater contributions adding much more variety and complexity to both the vocal and musical arrangements. It eventually results in getting close to being their best album to date and an arguably worthy winner of the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.
Recommended Tracks: Craziest, Feel Me Flow, Clap Yo Hands & Sunshine.
A few things, Champ.
First, that summary is really awkwardly worded, might want to change it.
Secondly, you should definitely give the acronyms a break, as they may be TOBIEOOYR (tired of being in every one of your reviews)!
Thirdly, the review may be misconstrued as a "tl;dr" affair; maybe hire an editor?
You make some good points throughout the review, and have convinced me to hear some tracks off this. But I'd say it reads more like a 3 than a 3.5.
Keep up the good work.
Album Rating: 3.5
Dave, I can see what you mean about the summary, but I think it gets the job done.
I agree that I used to use acronyms too much when I had both the artists & album titles that way, but surely just using NBN instead of Naughty By Nature is fine here... Isn't it...???
Speaking of, you fall victim to it as well because I have no idea what tl;dr stands for. TonsiLitis Doctor...???
I mainly agree the review reads a little like a 3. It's why I put the word "inconsistent" into the summary I suppose. But there may be some personal attachment to this album that got it up to a 3.5.
I appreciate the feedback Dave, especially on these hip-hop reviews which are darn tricky to pull off well.
tl;dr is a long-running acronym on 4chan and Encyclopedia Dramatica. It stands for "Too long; didn't read".
Hip-hop's hard to pull off if you're not well-versed in it. I bloody love it, but I've only done one hip-hop review.
omg ataheln do u go on 4chan u must be rally cool
you're a dumb faggot or DF
ataheln? That's worse than Kattunlover calling me Atavalen.
doesn't stop you from being a dumb faggot, faggot
Album Rating: 3.5
Thanks for the definition Dave. I have actually never seen it before.
I don't read much into the theory that if a review is too long, people won't read it. If someone wants to read something, then they'll read it... Even if it's War & Peace or the entire Lords of the Rings series. If they don't want to read it, then they won't. If I see a Black Funeral Death Metal review, it could be 20 words long & I probably won't read it. Get my point?
As for the hip-hop review thing, we agree here; They're tough. I just had a quick look at your one & only attempt and I also notice that it was rather long (probably longer than this if you take away the paragraph gap lines that I used). But for the time being, I'm not going to let it get to me mate. There's only 1 way to improve man and at the end of the day, our opinion is only our opinion!
No, length is actually the most important aspect of making your prose marketable. I've researched this; the first thing that decides whether or not someone is going to read your review is, yes, interest... but, it's also heavily affected by length. Like I've said a few times on this forum, 400-600 words is a good place to stay in.
Secondly, I find that it helps to develop a formula for which to base your review off of. Stick to the formula, yet veer away slightly each time. For example, my formula for hiphop is:
Section One: History, significance, etc, limit to 1/3 or less of the review as an absolute max.
Section Two: The least significant musical aspect... ie, what makes the album bad, really bad, or isn't as good as something else.
Section Three: The most significant musical aspect... ie, makes the album good, great, better than something else, not as bad, etc.
Section Four: Conclusion, wrap it up, make a general statement that you're trying to get across. Recommend songs.
Album Rating: 3.5
Interesting stuff kingsoby1 and I don't necessarily disagree with what you state here. Presuming the middle 2 sections are 2 paragraphs each (which I think is fair & sufficiently detailed), then the total review would perfectly be 6 paragraphs which is what I usually aim for. The one above is 8 paragraphs and probably contains a pargaraph's worth of lyrics, so I suppose my point is that it is not too over the top.
I suppose, although, I usually keep my middle 2 sections at 2-3 paragraphs total. It's besides the point. Your review is okay, just too long for my tastes.
Album Rating: 3.5
Fair call & I definitely appreciate the feedback.
I am determined to make my next review no longer than 6 paragraphs long... Even if I have to cheat a little & review an EP to achieve this!
I'm listening to Nas right now. Dave, you need to review this dude's discog.
Album Rating: 3.5
You're listening to him & I'm up 3-1 on you with hip-hop reviews, so I think that means you need to review his discog.
Plus, I only own 1 of his albums (It Was Written).
"If I ruled the world... Imagine That!"
I don't review discogs though, that's your shtick. I review whatever I want, you go through the motions of every act.
Album Rating: 3.5
Yeah, well this playwright is calling intermission on the Naughty By Nature reviews for the time being!