Fabian meets with Vinnie Brown, one third of the Grammy award winning hip hop group, Naughty By Nature, to talk about the beginnings of the group, the setbacks, the ins and outs of their first independent retail store, establishing the Naughty by Nature brand, group breakup, sacrifices and what it took to create a legacy in the world of hip-hop.
What I learned from this episode
- “Humble yourself and ask questions”. Vin had to humble himself with Eazy-E and Public Enemy to ask questions about how they launched their merchandise businesses and brand. Puff Daddy did the same with Vin, calling him up and asking how he runs his merchandise business, Vin explained all the mistakes he made. Apparently, one key to Puff’s success is he’s not ever afraid to humble himself and ask ‘how are you doing this?’. Never be afraid to ask ‘how?’, and sometimes the lesson is in the failure.
- “Be careful of those ego businesses”. Vin admits outside of the music and touring itself, his biggest returns have come from logical investments, not emotionally led investments. Although the ‘ego’ (in this case, brand-led) businesses can have a long-term payoff, always balance it out with an emotionless investment in your portfolio.
- “Your backyard is your test market”. Vin discusses the pivotal role winning the hearts and ears of his neighbourhood had in the groups rise to the top. It’s been their loyalty that has contributed to the longevity of the group post inner group turmoil, and fall of the ‘label-era’. The lessons transfers to all businesses, if you can’t win in your own backyard, don’t try to win in someone else’s.
In 1986 Vin Rock (Vincent Brown), Treach (Anthony Criss) and DJ Kay Gee (Keir Lamont Gist) formed the group The New Style. By 1991 they had changed their name to the grammy award winning group Naughty by Nature. They have spent the last twenty-five years maintaining a market of the Naughty by Nature brand.
This interview with Vin Rock covers:
- How the band started
- The group’s first failure as ‘The New Style’
- Surrounding yourself with the right people
- Investment strategies
- The band’s breakup
- Building a brand and asking the right question