Album Review: Naughty By Nature – “Anthem Inc.” – ###1/2 Rating
Let’s face it, Naughty By Nature haven’t necessarily had a plethora of new musical output over the past decade. Aside from Treach’s excellent guest verse on Nineteen Ninety Now, and a handful of other guest verses, they have mainly spent their time touring the world off of their catalog of hits they recorded between 1991 and 2002. Their highest profile activity was in 2008 when they received a VH1 Hip-Hop Honor. So, to the naysayers, it was probably an impossible feat for them to get back in the lab and cook up some tasty auditory treats. Then they started leaking some songs at the beginning of 2011, performed on Letterman, appeared on Live From HQ and anticipation began to grow for their album. Now we are at the end of 2011, and after many delays, it is safe to say that that feat has been successfully achieved with the release of Anthem Inc.
As they have done throughout their career, Anthem Inc. blends the commercial sensibilities of pop hooks, catchy choruses and traditional song structure with good production and Treach’s still rapid-fire delivery. The album starts off with “Naughty Nation” and an almost air-raid sounding horn, giving warning that Treach, Vin Roc, and Kay Gee are back on the scene. Throughout much of the album, Naughty puts across a positive and uplifting message, such as the one for the youth to choose the right path on “Flags.” However, they also deliver some of the hard-edged song concepts they are known for like early leak/video “I Gotta Lotta.”
Those who only know Naughty by their anthems, their five top ones rerecorded on this album at much quicker speeds, probably are unaware that their albums always have deep album cuts. Poverty’s Paradise may have been known for their anthems “Feel Me Flow” and “Craziest” but it also contained solid album cuts such as “The Chain Remains” and “Holdin’ Fort.” Anthem Inc. is no different; weighing in at twelve new tracks and the five previous classics. There are enough deep cuts to make this album have some replay value beyond the here-and-now.
Despite the strengths that this album displays, there are a few minor drawbacks to it. The overabundance of guest appearances, while all work and are placed properly, detract from the chance to hear more of Treach and Vinnie. Speaking of which, Vinnie is hardly on the album. You would think that in a decade he would be able to come up with some verses to contribute to the album, but his potential verses are taken up by different guests throughout. Additionally, some of the production tries too much to copy what is getting radio play these days, an example of which is “I Know What It’s Like” could easily be confused for an Akon track if you were to remove Naughty from the mix.
All in all, this album stands up as a solid effort and worth some replay value. It is good to have Naughty back on the scene, and hopefully they will work some of these new songs into their sets as they continue to tour the world on their anthems. Maybe someday in the future, some of the songs on Anthem Inc. will be rerecorded as they become Anthem’s for our present era.
Rating: ###1/2 out of #####