Halifax is no stranger to the nostalgia tour; loads of acts have rolled through town long past their prime, and have become something of a parody of themselves. We just had a sold-out Scotiabank Centre play host to the I Love ’90s tour, which saw Freedom Williams, Colour Me Badd, All For One, Young MC, and others relive their glory days for better or worse. Now, I was excited to see Salt N Pepa perform, who did a great job paying respect to their storied career. This past Thursday night, the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia played host to Jersey’s own Naughty by Nature.
It’s been a minute since the band graced the hip-hop charts, but that didn’t slow down a legion of Haligoons from filling the room to revel in the nostalgia of the early ’90s. Both Treach and Vin Rock sounded every bit as good as they did when the band’s eponymous debut dropped in 1991. It was clear watching the crowd stream in, that this wasn’t a room loaded with millennials, instead it was a legion of folks born largely in the ’70s and early ’80s. That being said, the most animated fan wasn’t born in either of those decades, and instead she (Judy) more than likely began her story in the ’50s, which didn’t stop her from embracing her love of hip-hop on Thursday night. Judy and the rest of the Haligoons were ready to party from the moment the opening act hit the stage.
Fairview’s own Quake Matthews had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Treach, Vin and DJ Kay Gee. The talented emcee strode onstage, hood up, sporting a camouflage jacket and backed by beloved local DJ IV. While his time slot was rather limited, Quake showcased his skills as one of the best emcees on the East Coast, working through material from his most recent release Celebrate the Struggle and 2015’s Rap Music. It was a blazing set, that suffered in part due to a heavy bass line that downed out some of the rapper’s silver-tongued flow, and, having seen Quake in other venues around town, his wordplay is worth the price of admission. Toward the end of the set, Mr. Matthews hopped off-stage to flirt a bit with Judy as he poured the charm on saying she was aging like a fine wine, while some ladies here were aging like milk. If you get a chance, check out Quake Matthews before the rest of the country steals him away.
When it came time for the trio of Jersey’s finest to hit the stage, the Schooner Showroom was packed, riled up, and ready to roll. It didn’t take long, as Vin Rock was out in front of DJ Kay Gee working the crowd before the opening of the Jackson 5’s “ABC” played, and rolled into Naughty by Nature’s signature smash hit “O.P.P.”, and blew the top off of the crowd.For the next sixty minutes, the crowd in Halifax was treated to cuts from the band’s entire catalogue, even going back to that debut album with “Guard Your Grill” and “Everything’s Going to be Alright”. The band also dusted off Poverty’s Paradise, and played “Craziest” and “Feel Me Flow”. While the lion’s share of the set was comprised of the band’s original material, they also kept with the I Love the ’90s theme and played snippets of “Jump Around”, “Humpty Dance”, “Sound of the Police”, “California Love”, and a handful of others.
As the set wound down, Treach, Vin, and DJ Kay Gee paid homage to their fallen comrades Tupac, Biggie Smalls, and Prodigy. It was a great touch to pay tribute to their peers, but then it was time for the grand finale. The band broke into another of their massive hits “Hip Hop Hooray” and welcomed Quake on stage, and eventually helped Judy on stage to cavort and dance about. Sure, this was another nostalgia tour for the majority of those in attendance, but my hat goes off to Naughty by Nature, as they still sound amazing and know how to throw one hell of a party. Hopefully this time, if they are still on the road, we won’t have to wait another decade for a follow-up show.