Naughty By Nature – Anthem Inc.

written by: December 19, 2011
Release Date: December 13th, 2011


Nostalgia is all the rage. In some instances groups have reunited for well executed reunion tours and new recordings, and for others it has been nothing more than cashing in on past popularity. For Naughty By Nature its 20th anniversary signaled a reunion of the group’s three core members and a brand new release, Anthem Inc., an album that sadly falls into the second grouping.

Anthem Inc. is the first Naughty By Nature album to feature the group’s founding members, MCs Treach and Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee since the 1999 release of Nineteen Naughty Nine: Nature’s Fury. In a sense, Anthem Inc. is a return to form as it sees the group play with the dynamics that saw it garner mainstream success with its self-titled effort 20 years ago. The album’s first proper track “Naughty Nation” is vintage Naughty By Nature. Kay Gee’s beat recalls the group’s best efforts while Treach and Vin Rock offer solid verses amidst a effective hook.

After an enticing start the group quickly reveals that it doesn’t have much diversity in its arsenal. Much of Kay Gee’s production is run-of-the-mill and is hardly identifiable from the numerous throwback producers currently in the game.

Even with Treach and Vin Rock displaying their respective skills it is rarely enough to make Anthem Inc. feel like anything other than an album full of “Hey, remember the ’90s?” tracks, as the line about “Angela Bassett’s assets” in “Guns and Butta” (feat. Du It All, Black, Dueja, and B. Wells) evinces.

On the album’s last proper track “Doozit” (feat. Syleena Johnson) the group tells you how many different ways it can “doozit” and how many diverse groups it can “doozit” with. It appears that Naughty By Nature is partaking in the futile practice of showing how much street cred it still has as elder statesmen. Its strong, upbeat hook does help salvage the song, but it leads in to the true feature of Anthem Inc. that most are interested in—20th Anniversary versions of the trio’s hits.

There’s nothing all too different about such massively popular songs such as “Hip-Hop Hooray” or “O.P.P.,” but they do allow for Naughty By Nature’s party anthems to live on. It may not be an essential update, but it does prove that the group’s earlier work can still hold up, even if the lyrics in the choruses are the only words that a casual listener would still remember.

Twenty years on, Naughty By Nature is attempting to prove it is still relevant. It may not be effective in doing so, but it still has a few anthems left to get out there. The group was never one to make huge statements or push the genre forward, and it certainly doesn’t do that here. Anthem Inc. is a nice way to look back at the ’90s, but beyond that it is nothing that warrants revisiting.

 Naughty By Nature – Anthem Inc. tracklist:

  1. “Anthem Inc. Intro”
  2. “Naughty Nation”
  3. “Throw It Up CD (feat. Tah G Ali)”
  4. “I Gotta Lotta”
  5. “Perfect Party (feat. Joe)”
  6. “Flags (feat. Jaheim & Balewa Muhammad)”
  7. “Name Game (Remember) (feat. Kate Nauta)”
  8. “Lovin’ U More (feat. Queen Latifah)”
  9. “Gunz & Butta (feat. Du It All, Black, Dueja & B. Wells)”
  10. “I Know What It’s Like”
  11. “Ride”
  12. “Impeach The Planet (feat. Du It All, Black & Fam)”
  13. “Doozit (feat. Syleena Johnson)”
  14. “Uptown Anthem [20th Anniversary Version]”
  15. “Hip Hop Hooray [20th Anniversary Version]”
  16. “O.P.P. [20th Anniversary Version]”
  17. “Feel Me Flow [20th Anniversary Version]”
  18. “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright [20th Anniversary Version]”