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Naughty By Nature, reconciled and ready

Naughty By Nature – Vin Rock is the guy in the middle – plays Cache Creek on Saturday.
Naughty By Nature – Vin Rock is the guy in the middle – plays Cache Creek on Saturday. Courtesy Cache Creek Casino Resort

“That whole scene was tough,” says Vin Rock (né Vincent Brown), one of three members of the hip-hop group Naughty By Nature, reminiscing about their beginnings in East Orange, N.J. That was a time when performing in a casino showroom like the one at Cache Creek where they will be Saturday was most likely the last thing on their minds.

It was 1988, and Vin joined with Treach (Anthony Criss) and DJ Kay Gee (Keir Gist), calling themselves New Style. They had one album before they became Naughty By Nature, mentored by Queen Latifah.

“In those days, you really had to show what you know. You couldn’t just show up. The whole hip-hop scene was wild with (the) Fat Boys and Run DMC. We called East Orange ‘Illtown’ because it was sick and it was rough.

“We had to prove ourselves to Queen Latifah and everybody else. We had to show we could draw a crowd, at least 100 to 200 people at first. We had a big family in East Orange, lots of friends, and we put it over and got the deal.”

They also got their first hit, 1991’s “O.P.P.,” one of the most successful crossover songs of the time. It wound up being featured on television shows such as “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Other albums followed, culminating in a Grammy win for best rap album for 1996’s “Poverty’s Paradise.”

Inevitable disputes, breakups and reconciliations followed. Then in 2013, Vin Rock heard he had been fired by Treach (on Twitter, no less). There had been reports of an ongoing conflict between the two, and even fisticuffs. Vin Rock laughs about that now.

“That was personal stuff that had built up,” he explains. “We got past it, or at least we agreed to get back together. It was all really petty to me, but I can’t downplay it. It happened. What it comes down to, though, is you can’t fire somebody who owns a percentage of the band.

“Hopefully time heals all wounds,” he continued. “I want to give a big shout-out to all who have supported us as we go back out on the road. There are no new recordings in the plans right now. We have a couple of different energies happening, but you never know. Sometimes that collective energy just kicks in.” (8 p.m.; $35, $49; cachecreek.com)

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