Historical Society of East Orange honors hometown musical heroes

Photo by Chris Sykes
The members of the Cicely Tyson Elementary School’s Young People for Peace group perform their remixed version of local hip-hop music legends and hometown heroes Naughty By Nature’s breakout classic record ‘O.P.P.’ at the city’s third annual Music, Arts and Culture Festival in City Hall Plaza on Saturday, June 17. The youngsters have replaced the song’s well-known call and response hook ‘You down with O.P.P.’ into a more modern and updated version that asks ‘You down with Y.P.P.?’ But the answer to both versions question is still the same: ‘You know me.’

EAST ORANGE, NJ — The Historical Society of East Orange honored local hip-hop music heroes Naughty By Nature and others at its annual Lawn Party at Cicely Tyson School of the Performing and Fine Arts on Sunday, June 11.

But the most relevant tribute might have come from the members of the Young People for Peace youth group, which remixed the group’s breakthrough classic song “O.P.P.” and performed it live onstage for an audience of hundreds of people at the third annual Music, Arts and Culture Festival in City Hall Plaza on Saturday, June 17, replacing the song’s familiar call and response hook “You down with O.P.P.” with the more positive modern version: “You down with Y.P.P.?”

“I’m honored to have such talented students remix our song for a positive purpose,” Vinnie Brown, a Naughty By Nature member and East Orange native, said Tuesday, June 20. “More than ever, a message of peace is needed for our youth. I’m grateful our students at Cicely Tyson Elementary School are creating a peace movement they can carry forward in their lives, as well as set a foundation for future youth to participate in.”

Brown said he would “continue to support the Young People for Peace movement and help spread the vibe amongst my industry peers.” That was likely music to the ears of Historical Society of East Orange President Goldie Burbage and the others who honored Brown and his bandmates, Keir Gist and Anthony Criss, as well as other local notables at the annual Lawn Party at Cicely Tyson School on Sunday, June 11.

“The school is a historical site and we are the Historical Society of East Orange, so it’s also fitting and proper that we have our lawn reception here at this site. It doesn’t have to be a physical lawn for it to be a lawn reception. If you know what it’s all about social-wise, it doesn’t have to be on a lawn with grass; it’s outdoors,” said Burbage on Sunday, June 11. “We honored six people. Vinnie was here to represent the group and all of the members of Naughty By Nature are from East Orange. As a matter of fact, Vinnie moved back to East Orange. He was living in West Orange, but he’s homegrown and he wants everyone to know East Orange is his home.”

Burbage said Brown’s connection to East Orange is a good thing because “he’s giving back to the great city of East Orange and he made that as a public announcement.”

Brown agreed, saying he was proud to be honored by the Historical Society of East Orange.

“It’s an ultimate honor to be recognized by our hometown,” Brown said Tuesday, June 6, and he reiterated the same thoughts Tuesday, June 20. “We’re blessed Naughty By Nature will be included in East Orange’s rich history. We have a great city, which is rebuilding, re-establishing itself as a bedroom community, where you can live, work and play. After 26 years in the entertainment industry, I’m proud to currently reside in my hometown of East Orange.”

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