Naughty by Nature is an incredibly talented hip hop trio known for their combination of lyrical complexity and catchy choruses. They formed in 1986 under the name New Style and were later discovered by none other than Queen Latifah, who mentored them and helped them land significant record deals.
Personally, I found out about NBN through Ice-T’s Art of Rap documentary. In Eminem’s clip he notes that Treach from NBN influences him greatly in his flow and delivery. In particular, he notes that Treach’s lyricism in Yoke the Joker (see below) is one of the most advanced he has seen. I consider Eminem one of the greatest lyricists of all time (on par with Big L), so him talking up Treach like that means that he must be next level. Trust me, he is.
YOKE THE JOKER (1991)
This is hands-down one of the most lyrically advanced tracks I have ever heard. In the Art of Rap, Eminem said his “world ended” when he heard this. Treach not only uses short, fast, and choppy rhymes, but he mixes in a multiplicity of other techniques that few artists can pull off. He uses alliteration in several bars as well as a technique called Random Arrangement where each bar has a new rhythm instead of the matching the rhythm of the previous bar. This makes the flow unpredictable.
Example of Treach’s alliteration:
Soul simulated, sounds from a stocky
Semi social, never seem sloppy
See silly slappin’ suckers, sorry saps and slouchers
Straps slammin’ stouch, mackin’ this mass is savvy
Example of Random Arrangement (at 1:52)
All that straight faced shit like your heart had been thru
Smile and give your face somethin’ the fuck to do
You’re ugly, smugly, squiggly, dilly, wrinkled faced bastard
Someone needs to hit and run ya to run ya ass over backwards
Let’s giddy up, yep yep, another fuck up
Grab your microphone, battle time shown up
Any freestyle I see while I prowl I dial a new style, tell me about ooh chow
Listen to this verse and you see how he changes the number of rhymes and syllables per bar in a completely unpredictable manner.
FEEL ME FLOW (1995)
The minute the opening verse starts you know Treach is rapping because of the number of rhyming syllables per bar. At several points I lose track of what he is saying, but I can hear the rhyme endings repeated at least 3-5 times in a bar.
The flow pro poetical with skills only A vet’ll know better know where’s The wetter flow that’son point like Decimals
In the first bar we have: flow, pro, po. In the second bar we have: vet’ll know, better know. etc. Note that in the second bar he not only manages to fits two rhymes in a short bar, but he also uses rhyming couplets! Sheer skill.
LIVE OR DIE (1999)
Most NBN tracks feature the classic old school style with a hard drum chop. However, they distinguish themselves by changing it up once in a while. Here is an example of one of my favorite tracks with a more dark and sinister style.