Since smashing onto the scene with their massive crossover hit “O.P.P.” back in 1991, the New Jersey Grammy-award winning trio Naughty by Nature have spent 20 years securing their status as one of the legendary giants of hip hop. They’ve now got a new album in the works and an Aussie tour less than a fortnight away, so we called up Vin Rock (pictured centre) at his pad in the States…

What’s the secret behind your huge crossover success?
Being ourselves you know. It’s just our interpretation of the hip hop that we grew up on. We’re 80s babies. We love our forefathers, we were inspired by them, so when it came for us to do our thing we just absorbed it all and regurgitated what we did. It was just blood, sweat and tears in there man, and that’s the formula. Just staying true to yourself and staying true to your roots. Once you present it out there to the world, whoever grabs it, grabs it.

Did you always want to work in the music industry?
Oh yeah. It was the culture man. I used to beatbox and breakdance before I got into the real music side of it. People think hip hop is an epidemic now but, man, when it was brand new, especially when it started breaking mainstream in the early to mid 80s, oh boy it was just fiend-dom you know. It wasn’t like today when people are getting in it strictly for the money, they were getting in it for the skill. If you didn’t have skills, don’t even come to a party and try to do anything.

I can’t believe it’s 20 years since your first Naughty album…
I know man. It’s been like a blink of an eye. That’s crazy.

Good being a trio again?
Yeah, definitely. Kay Gee took the hiatus around 2000 as he was producing other artists. We reunited around 2006 and it’s all good man, we’re all brothers. We’ve all known each other since we were teenagers, man, and it’s a blessing that we’re still tight and have a healthy friendship and can still be business partners and making money.

Looking forward to Australia?
Oh yeah man, always. Australia’s like a second home for us. Naughty has an ongoing love affair with the Aussies. We’re on Aussie by Nature out there, it’s always a pleasure.

Will you get to see much?
It’s pretty much hit and miss man, the best we can do is the zoo most of the time. One day we’ll bring our families out and tour as tourists.

Who’d be your dream drinking partner?
Hey man, my big brother Mike Tyson. I just got off the phone with him. He’s always been one of my heroes. Even when he was incarcerated, I went to see him and he gave me some of the best advice of my life. So Mike may not even be drinking right now, but hey, I’d toast up a ginger ale to him.

What was the advice?
Our group was breaking, just establishing ourselves. I used to go up and see him and he’d be like, “listen Vin, you have to understand that , while you guys are a group and a team, you have to focus on you as an individual and what would be your long term goals, what does Vincent Brown pull out of this Naughty by Nature thing”. That’s something I’ve always thought about since the early 90s man and it helped me shape and forecast my future, even to this day.

What superpower would you have?
I would have that Superman breath where I could take all of the smog and just blow it away, blow it all away from the major metropolises.

Naughty by Nature play the Fat as Butter festival in Newcastle (Oct 22).[]