Sticking with the Flavor Unit theme…
After a forgettable debut album, the trio from East Orange, New Jersey would change the group’s name from New Style to Naughty By Nature, and thanks to the monster hit “O.P.P.”, their self titled sophomore effort would earn the crew a platinum plaque. Even though “O.P.P” was a pop hit, Naughty By Nature was a hip-hop classic, which put both Kay Gee’s quality production and Treach’s fierce rhymes and flow on display. Naughty would return in 1993 with their third release, cleverly titled 19 Naughty III.
Like the previous record, the production on 19 Naughty III would be kept in-house and handled by Kay Gee, and another monster crossover hit (that we’ll get to in a bit) would push the album to earn the Jersey boys their second consecutive platinum plaque (this time, in less than 90 days after its release).
But is 19 Naughty III a classic from the Jersey trio?
19 Naughty III – The album opens with Vin Rock, in a distorted vocal (i.e. 2pac’s “Soulja’s Story” older brother voice), reintroducing his self, Kay Gee and Treach to the listener. Then Kay Gee’s slightly generic instrumental drops for Treach to spit a few warm up bars over. Not a great start to 19 Naughty III, but I’ve heard worst opening songs.
Hip Hop Hooray – This was the lead single from 19 Naughty III, and next to “O.P.P.”, is the biggest hit in the trio’s catalog. Kay Gee hooks up rumbling drums and lays a smooth flute loop over it, for Treach and Vinnie to show some love to the genre that took them out of the hood. This is a hip-hop classic that you’re bound to hear on a throwback mix from time to time.
Ready For Dem – Now here’s a collab from left field: Treach and of all people, Heavy D, tag team the mic over a simple and rough instrumental. Without question, Treach is the stronger emcee, but Heavy may be the best ever at saying absolutely nothing but making it sound good with his polished flow. He does bring life to the hook with his reggae chant, though. This was dope.
Take It To Ya Face – I love Kay Gee’s instrumental on this one. It has a rough feel that will make you screw your face and at the same time make you want to pull out the linoleum and hit some b-boy moves. Or at least try to. Treach and Vin use the hard backdrop to take turns making threats. This was nice.
Daddy Was A Street Corner – Speaking of hard, this instrumental definitely falls in that category, with a bleak feel to it as well. It makes for the perfect backdrop for Treach to shout out the streets for raising him in his father’s absence (it kind of works as a companion piece to “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”). I’ll admit, I slept on this one back in the day. This is a hidden gem.
The Hood Comes First – Keeping with the dark mood, Kay Gee serves up yet another one for Treach and Vinnie, who pledge that no matter how successful they become in hip-hop, their peeps and the hood will always be top priority. Treach takes a shot at Twista (calling him a “quick tongue fraud”) and dedicates his entire second verse to Roxanne Shante, who had previously fired shots at Latifah (the “hide your gat” line is in reference to the album cover for Shante’s 1992 release The Bitch Is Back). This one sounds as good today as it did back in ’93.
The Only Ones – Just in case there were any questions, Treach opens this one up singing “we don’t have any connection in the drug game” and addresses the mistreatment of black men by the police (20 plus years later and that subject couldn’t be more relevant), before completely deviating from the plan on the last verse (although I still chuckle every time I hear him brag about boning your girl into a coma). Treach is dope on this one, but the Kay Gee/S.I.D. concocted instrumental matches Treach every step of the way, as they take a loop from Nu Shooz “I Can’t Wait” and turn it into a bassy up-tempo masterpiece.
It’s On – The second single from 19 Naughty III opens with an extended (and unnecessary) skit that attempts to re-enact how this Kay Gee and S.I.D. produced instrumental came to be (I absolutely love the instrumental Kay Gee has playing in the background when S.I.D. stops by his crib to let him hear the horn loop). Eventually, the monster instrumental drops and Treach raps circles around it, while Vinnie tries to keep up, and takes shots at…Sir Mix-A-Lot? Not sure what that beef was about, but if Vin and Mix-A-Lot were to battle, I got my money on Mix-A-Lot. Regardless, this is a certified banger.
Cruddy Clique – Over a grimy Kay Gee backdrop (complete with rough horns), Treach spits more fiery darts in the listeners ears. And no matter how many times I hear this song, Treach’s line about Michael Jackson buying someone else’s face to replace his own, always makes me laugh.
Knock Em Out Da Box – If hip-hop had a D-league, the Rottin Razkals would dwell there. Eternally. Over a frantic backdrop, they join Treach on this cipher joint, and as expected they aren’t that good. This is easily my least favorite song on 19 Naughty III.
Hot Potato – Freddie Foxxx slides by to help Treach with this duet, as they pass the mic like the song title suggest. I like Kay Gee’s mid-tempo mild-mannered backdrop, but I would have liked to hear these two ferocious emcees go back and forth over something more rough. As is, it’s still solid.
Sleepin’ On Jersey – The Flavor Unit leader, Queen Latifah drops by to assist with the hook, as Treach takes more shots at Twista (instructing him to “tongue twist his ass back to Chicago”), and I’m still not sure who his line “FedEx your ass to Kansas” is directed at (If you know, hit me in the comments, please). Kay Gee’s instrumental is slightly decent, and overall the song is as well.
Written On Ya Kitten – This was the third and final single from 19 Naughty III. Over a sleepy Kay Gee instrumental, Treach boast about his sexual prowess and the importance of leaving his name imprinted on the female genitalia. After “Knock Em Out Da Box” this is my second least favorite song on 19 Naughty III. Side note: The smooth jazz QDIII remix for this song sounds a lot better than the original mix (the “Shandi’s Smooth” remix uses the Isley’s “In Between The Sheets” loop, and is pretty decent as well).
Sleepwalkin’ II – This one picks up where “Thanx For Sleepwalking” left off (the instrumental even sounds a lot like the original’s). After two quick humorous verses from Treach, the song bleeds into the final song (even though they’re listed as separate songs on the liner notes and the jewel case, they actually play as one track)…
Shout Outs – Kay Gee gives his shout outs over a dope backdrop (that I would have loved to hear Treach demolish). His list is kind of lengthy, but that just means you get to enjoy his ear pleasing backdrop longer.
19 Naughty III has a much darker feel than the Naughty By Nature album. Where the previous album’s production was a blend of hard backdrops and melodic grooves, the production work on 19 Naughty III is consistently dark and bleak (with a few exceptions) from beginning to end. And that’s not a bad thing, considering most of them are dope. And even though Treach doesn’t sound quite as hungry (and a bit too focused on speed rather than content) as he did on the previous album, he still manages to deliver quality rhymes, while Vinnie, well, is still Vinnie. 19 Naughty III may not be the same level of dope as Naughty By Nature, but it was nice to see them go in a slightly different direction this time around and still deliver quality product.