Naughty By Nature, "O.P.P." (1991)
Jersey's own Naughty by Nature was a rarity in hip-hop: an urban pop act that held respect and dignity in the Nineties. To go platinum in hip-hop, you were either diluted for mass consumption, or an overdone cartoon image of gangsterism that was temporary. Naughty By Nature chose the equivalent of shooting three-pointers from half-court: pop classics. Only Prince, MJ and Stevie had the ability to create pop-friendly songs without losing themselves in the process. That was a slippery slope to walk. Treach was just as respectful an MC as the best of them, and Kay Gee made sure that his infectious musical elements didn't crowd his grit and dusty breakbeats. But of course, when the Jackson Five's "ABC" was your template, can you really drop the ball?