Naughty By Nature
In middle school, an older female cousin of mine asked if I knew what O.P.P. meant. I admitted that I didn’t. “Other People’s Privates,” she said. “Okay,” I said, still unclear about it. How did one come to be “down with O.P.P.” exactly? Was it cool or shameful? Had the acronym been in circulation before the song came out, or did Naughty By Nature make it up?
I’m still a little fuzzy on O.P.P. But I was excited to hear Naughty By Nature was playing a fundraiser for the Women’s Prison Association at Southpaw. The WPA is a 160-year-old organization that helps women rebuild their lives after being released from jail–rewatching the hip hop icons’ videos online, it’s not surprising that Naughty By Nature showed their support. There’s a positive, if mischievous, message to their music. Queen Latifah mentored them. In a way, they’re the male equivalent of Salt-N-Pepa, whose Very Necessary (“Shoop,” “None of Your Business”) was released the same year as 19 Naughty III (“Hip Hop Hooray”). The album cover shows Treach holding a giant, redwood-worthy chainsaw, but as a kind of joke; it’s not like he’d use it.
Before the show, Treach was on the sidewalk in a vast leather jacket and sunglasses directing Vin Rock’s SUV into a parking place. Vin got out and put on a black jacket with the Naughty By Nature emblem on the back. They hugged and walked inside laughing. O.P.P. was the first song they played. I was worried it would be embarrassing. It wasn’t. Everybody’s hands were in the air. “You down with O.P.P.?” Vin asked. “Yeah you know me!” the audience shouted. It felt good to be there.
Between songs, Treach rhapsodized about knowing Biggie, touring with Tupac, and talking to Suge Knight on the phone before everything went down. He wished Queen Latifah a happy birthday. They played “Feel Me Flow,” Uptown Anthem,” “Hip Hop Hooray.” Then Treach stripped to the waist and poured what looked like Hennessey onto a Tupac tattoo on his forearm. “When I drink, you drink,” he said to Tupac in heaven. Treach remains a charming and mesmerizing performer. Since NxN’s last album, Ilcons (2002), he has had a fairly successful acting career, appearing in Oz, Law and Order, and The Sopranos. At the show’s end, he said defiantly, “Until they kill me, they gonna feel me.” But it was hard to believe anybody’d want to kill him.–Jed Lipinski