In 1991, East Orange rap group Naughty by Nature had their breakthrough hit with the sex anthem “O.P.P.” Their followup was a quite a shocker: an uncompromising look at ghetto life with a deceptively upbeat name, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” (derived from Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry”).
The song, sometimes also known as “Ghetto Bastard,” is about someone who has nothing going for him, and never rises above it. He has an absentee father and a mother who can’t afford to raise him; he can’t get a job due to racism (“nappy hair was not allowed”) and turns to crime. Jail, and suicidal thoughts, follow.
“Say something positive? Well, positive ain’t where I live,” he raps, following it up, later, with “How will I make it?/I won’t, that’s how.” You can’t be much more bluntly nihilistic than that.
Naughty by Nature frontman Treach raps with relentless intensity, but the song was still only a minor hit. The group soon had another “O.P.P.”-level success, though, with the more upbeat anthem, “Hip Hop Hooray.”
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.