When you think of Grammy-winning rap albums, what comes to mind? Maybe Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or perhaps more recently Tyler, the Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost.
But before all of those came Naughty by Nature’s Poverty’s Paradise, which won the first Best Rap Album when it was introduced at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards held on February 28, 1996, at Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles.
Released on May 30, 1995, Poverty’s Paradise quickly made its mark on the charts, peaking at number 3 on the Billboard 200 and number 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The album featured the hit single “Feel Me Flow,” which reached number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as the tracks “Craziest” and “Clap Yo Hands.”
The New Jersey group’s early success can be traced back to their self-titled album and the hit single “O.P.P.” which sampled the Jackson 5’s “ABC.” Their subsequent albums, including 19 Naughty III and Poverty’s Paradise, produced multiple hits and secured their place as one of the most successful hip hop acts of the ’90s.
When Poverty’s Paradise was awarded the first Best Rap Album Grammy award, it was also nominated alongside seminal hip hop releases like, 2Pac’s Me Against the World, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s E. 1999 Eternal, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version and Skee-Lo’s I Wish.
With its win at the Grammys, Poverty’s Paradise cemented Naughty by Nature’s place in hip hop history and paved the way for future rap artists to be recognized in the Best Rap Album category. It was a momentous achievement for a group that had already accomplished so much in their career, and it solidified their legacy as one of the greatest rap acts of all time.
Treach: It was bittersweet in a sense because at that time, they didn’t even televise hip-hop at the Grammys. We weren’t able to stand in front of an audience and thank the people that made it happen. But, again, you can never take that trophy away. Out of all the American Music Awards and platinum and gold plaques, whenever they introduce us somewhere, they say “Grammy Award winning group.” It’s like going to war and coming home with a Purple Heart. It can’t get any better than that.Interview: Treach Talks Winning First “Best Rap Album” Grammy, Meeting 2Pac, and How Naughty by Nature Blew Up | Complex