Naughty by Nature was everyone’s favorite hardcore rap trio that landed big, catchy hits time and time again. MS Treach, Vinnie and DJ Kay Gee met in high school and started throwing down at talent shows until like NJ-native Queen Latifah discovered them and knew from the first moment that they were a gold mine.
Their self-titled debut album was released in 1991 and was an immediate Top Ten hit (remember O.P.P., I know you do). Their 1993 follow-up album, 19 Naughty III, was another smash hit and hit the Top Five, then went platinum.
Poverty’s Paradise was their last big album of the 90s. It won a Grammy for Best Rap Album, but didn’t deliver the unforgettable anthems they were known for. The group took a hiatus, and most of us haven’t heard much of them since.
Born Anthony Criss, Treach came up in East Orange, New Jersey where he met Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee. He was the leader of the trio as they formed and performed. The frontman was the most prominent and often sole rapper, especially in earlier songs like “O.P.P.” and “Ghetto Bastard.”
As the group got bigger, he began to share the front of the stage with Vin Rock, and, then, famously married Sandra Denton better known as “Pepa” of Salt-n-Pepa. In addition to music, Treach had dreams of acting.
Treach did get his acting career going. He has a laundry list of small roles in TV and film.
He and Denton had a child named Egypt, who is currently working her way into the music industry. Unfortunately, Treach and Pepa divorced in 2001. In 2014, he got into a high-speed chase with the police, which lead to his arrest. He was released on a $15,000 bail and continues to pursue acting.
Kay Gee, born Keir Lamont Gist, was Naughty by Nature’s backbeat. He was the DJ that set the table for Treach and Vinnie to perform to, without which, they would have been nothing. His signature beats and now-old-school record scratching became a staple of the industry.
In 1999, after the release of Nineteen Naughty Nine: Nature’s Fury, Treach and Kay Gee got in a dustup. Treach accused Kay Gee of squandering the group’s money, which lead to Gee leaving the group in 2000.
Gee started his own record label called Divine Mill which released the song “Here Comes The Money” that gained fame as the entrance theme for WWE fighter Shane McMahon.
In May 2006, Kay Gee reunited with Treach and rejoined Naughty by Nature at a concert at B.B. King’s nightclub.
Vinnie, a.k.a. Vin Rock neé Vincent Brown, was the kind-of-not-so awkward third wheel. He didn’t really rap that much, he didn’t DJ, but he killed those backup hooks. And who wants to be on stage with just one other person. He was the tirde wheel that kept Naughty by Nature’s tricycle upright.
After their first platinum album, Vin Rock began to vie for the mic, and he shined. But tensions were building between the two frontmen. There can only be one spotlight, and as the group grew in popularity, he wanted more of that attention and love.
After Kay Gee left in 2000, Treach and Vin Rock released the 2002 album IIcons to lukewarm reception. In 2013, after the group got back together, Treach shocked fans by firing Vin Rock, which he announced via Twitter.
Vin responded by tweeting a quote from Native American icon Sitting Bull:
“Warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights, because no one has the right to take another life. The warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others.”
In May 2013, frontman Treach shocked fans when he revealed that Vin Rock had been “fired” from the group, after failing to put in the same amount of energy in the group as himself and member DJ Kay Gee. At the time, Treach said he and Vinnie hadn’t been on speaking terms for around two years.
In April 2015, Treach said he and Vinnie had resolved their issues, but now their relationship is strictly “business.” “You got teammates, sometimes, that’s on the same team, they may not feel each other. At the end of the day, you going out to win. That’s what we doing,” Treach said. Although Vinnie and Treach are cordial, he said another Naughty By Nature album was unlikely.
In January 2016, in celebration of their 25th anniversary, Naughty by Nature posted the video of their song “God is Us” from Anthem Inc. to their YouTube account.