At the beginning of the '90s, hip-hop was in a state of flux. New forms were starting to emerge, like the Native Tongues-style rap and the continued refinement of gangsta. More and more artists were beginning to infiltrate the pop world as well. Consider Naughty by Nature, who dropped their self-titled second album on this day in 1991.
Technically, Naughty by Nature was the first album credited to the group of the same name, but Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee had already put out an album called Independent Leaders under the name New Style in 1989. After scoring a minor hit with "Scuffin' Those Knees," they caught the attention of fellow New Jersey native Queen Latifah, who took them under her wing.
Naughty by Nature struck an impressive balance between pop-friendly sensibilities and hardcore lyricism. An MC's MC, Treach was able to shift his character from friendly party-starter to streetwise thug and back again over the span of a line or two, an impressive ability that Jay-Z later perfected. The key song on Naughty By Nature is, of course, "O.P.P.," an effervescent banger built around a sample of the Jackson 5's "ABC" and delivered with jubilant confidence by Treach. A massive crossover hit, "O.P.P." peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, helped Naughty by Nature move platinum numbers and turned the chorus "Down with OPP" into a viral catch phrase at the end of 1991. Naughty by Nature continued to have hits throughout the '90s (including "Hip Hop Hooray" and "Feel Me Flow"), but "O.P.P." found them at their peak.