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Name: Adam Bernard
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The Most Underrated MC of All-Time
Wednesday, June 11, 2008

When people start talking about the greatest emcees of all-time the usual cast of characters is brought up. KRS-One, Rakim, 2Pac, Biggie, etc., all get mentioned. Older fans, like myself, will bring up Slick Rick and The Fresh Prince, while younger fans will point to Jay-Z, Eminem and Nas. There’s one artist that seemingly NEVER gets mentioned, though, and it’s someone who has long deserved to be in the discussion; Naughty By Nature’s lead emcee, Treach (center in pic, but you should know that!). Don’t ask me why people forget about Treach when they’re talking about the all-time greats, but let’s take a look at his career and see why we need to put him in that category.

Naughty By Nature first hit the scene in 1991 with their classic debut single “O.P.P.” Not a lot of groups can follow up a classic. It’s one of the hardest things to do in music. Once you’ve made a classic it’s usually downhill from there. Even if all your work after that step down is still pretty fantastic, pleasing a crowd that has already heard you craft a classic is damned near impossible. Naughty By Nature, led by Treach (props to Vinnie, too, who was also nice on the mic), not only followed up “O.P.P.” with another classic off of their self-titled debut album, they totally changed the game in terms of what was being played in the suburbs while doing it.

The follow up to “O.P.P.” was the acerbic blues song “Ghetto Bastard.” “O.P.P” may have introduced the world to Treach’s skills, but “Ghetto Bastard” was the song that secured his spot as one of the top emcees around. The closing line of the second verse, “how will I do it, how will I make it, I won’t, that’s how,” is still one of the most, if not the most, gut wrenching lines in the history of Hip-Hop, partly due to the sincerity Treach offers it up with.

Before “Ghetto Bastard,” which Treach wrote and rapped all three verses of, the majority of the rap music that had flooded the suburbs was party rap. Some of it was fantastic, some of it not so much so, but Naughty By Nature seemed to understand the landscape of things and by leading of with “O.P.P.” they broke into the suburbs and then once they had them hooked they introduced them to “Ghetto Bastard.” Sure, there were groups here and there that had brought hard stuff to the burbs before them, but “Ghetto Bastard,” at least in my area, was the song that really opened the floodgates for the acceptance and embracing of more street oriented Hip-Hop in the suburbs.

Naughty By Nature, led by Treach, then took full advantage of the doors they opened. Another classic, “Uptown Anthem,” was released off of their eponymous debut album, and then came the monster. Nobody thought Naughty By Nature could top “O.P.P.” in terms of making another anthemic song, but “Hip-Hop Hooray” proved to be one of the biggest party songs in the history of the genre. Once “Hip-Hop Hooray” dropped there was no doubt about it; Naughty By Nature had cemented their place in Hip-Hop history.

So Treach, as the lead emcee for Naughty By Nature had the anthems, he had the deadly serious songs, and he broke boundaries and opened doors for rap artists that had been previously only been open for the party rappers. Any artist who came out after Naughty By Nature that managed to grab a suburban audience with tales of hood life owes them just as much thanks as they owe NWA for essentially creating the reality rap genre.

It is for all these reasons that the next time you hear people trying to list the greatest emcees of all-time you should make sure Treach’s name is in the mix. I’m not saying he’s THE greatest, but when people are listing their top 20, or even top 10, he needs to be in the conversation.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:46 AM  
  • At 8:04 PM, Blogger Sketch Tha Cataclysm said…

    Treach has alot to do with my interest early on in wordy rhyme schemes. . . I thought this whole article was going to be on Young MC lol

    and stop using eponymous!! The correct word is homonymous. . . eponymous gets used incorrectly all of the time when homonymous is the word you are actually looking for. . . people just run from the prefix homo lol

  • At 9:08 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…


    eponymous [ip-pon-im-uss]
    1. (of a person) being the person after whom a literary work, film, etc., is named: the eponymous heroine in the film of Jane Eyre
    2. (of a literary work, film, etc.) named after its central character or creator: The Stooges' eponymous debut album [Greek epōnumos giving a significant name]

    ho·mon·y·mous (h-mn-ms, h-)
    1. Having the same name.

  • At 8:54 AM, Blogger Levi and Heather said…

    Epwnymous: (ip-OWN-im-muss)
    1.) What Adam Bernard just got, all over Sketch

  • At 8:59 AM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…


    Just so the internet world doesn't get it twisted, Sketch and I are very good friends.

    Levi and Heather's comment, however, goes down as one of the funniest in Adam's World history.

  • At 8:56 AM, Blogger Lee said…

    I have Uptown Anthem in my iPod. I agree that dude is overlooked. But the memory span of this culture seems to be very short.

    That people even mention newer emcees in the discussion is a testament to that.

  • At 11:20 AM, Blogger Mongo Slade said…

    A very good point made Adam. Treach does get overlooked. But to make a related left turn, another emcee that gets overlooked though respected by many is Black Thought of The Roots.
    I've never heard this dude mentioned in any top 5, 10, 20, 50 emcees.
    Why is that? Just putting that out there don't mean to open any flood gates on a list of underrated emcess.

  • At 6:12 PM, Blogger Noah said…

    Word. Treach is most certainly a highly overlooked MC. No question. Not only could he write dope songs, both fun and informative, but he also could flow like crazy. He took that '88 Big Daddy machine gun flow and moved it into the early 90's. Even on later songs like, "Feel me Flow" he kills it.

    The prose flows poetical, with skills only a vet will

    definitely ahead of his time.

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