"Independent Leaders" was released in 1989 and was released as the debut album from New Jersey-based Hip Hop trio, The New Style. However, it wouldn't be until two years later when the act re-emerged under a new name of 'Naughty By nature' and dropped their "O.P.P." single alongside an eponymous record and made theire breakthrough. This, therefore, acts as a chance to see Treach, DJ Kay Gee and Vin Rock in their early years before they became the act that most know them as.
1."Scuffin' Those Knees"
They get the album under way with a hyped-up tune that shows you they were right on-trend for the time with a track that has them jumping on top of some of the heavy Breakbeats (the type of drumloop that a track from this period wouldn't be complete without. This tune is a great one to get the album off with as we get a chance to feel exactly what they are to do here and where they could potentially take it all.
The beats are seen to change massively as this one comes in and it all slows down. We get one that uses a recycled sample, one that originally came from Grace Jones, but was adapted by for 2 Much's "Wild Thang" (a track essentially covered by LL Cool J with his seductive "Doin It" single". However for this one the direction is a little different as it's more about hitting listeners with some dope rhymes than some sensual music.
DJ Kay Gee comes with some thumping beats that set the thing off nicely and give Treach the perfect backing to come out with just the flows you'd expect from him (especially when you compare this to what he would come with on Naughty By Nature's official debut in 1991. It's a fresh one and sees them trying out a little something that shows they would like to see the glob come together and settle all its problems.
4."Can't Win For Losing"
This is a straight banger of a track and one that I'm sure that all who are into the popular Hip Hop material of this Golden Age period (between 1987 and 1993) will certainly have no issues with as we see that the rip it over some sample-heavy beats and lots of freaky breaks for a fly tune that seems to open it up in a way that makes it sound as if the album has been started up once again.
5."Droppin' The Bomb"
They switch it all up as they get on into this one and do a track that slows down the pace of things and I felt that it was a nice one to see something that reflects more of what they would be known for as their careers went on as we get some laid-back and smooth stuff over a low-paced beat and gets things flowing nicely in the style that would become more popular through the nineties in the underground East Coast Hip Hop scene.
6."To The Extreme" (Lude)
After a nice little 'freestyle' on the last one, we see that on this one they come out with the titular track to the album and one that stands out as it sees that we get them doing a little something where they show how they want to show their conscious side with a little something where they talk on some of the more troubling issues that go in the world and things that they wish they would be able to sort out.
8."New vs. Style"
On this one we get a fresh tune where they go out there on more of the dense electronic percussion and show how they are unable to be stopped and stand as one of the biggest in the New Jerset game and how you simply won't be able to take on them. The fact that they see it like this hs meant that they've resorted to battles against each other and go hard with some Old School-styled flows from earlier on in the eighties.
We have them jumping over a smooth piece of production on this one and I feel as though it was a bit of a change to the kind of thing heard elsewhere on the thing, but not quite another that stands out as particularly hard to get into if you were down to other tracks on the album. Here Treach takes control, as you tend to expect on Naughty By Nature releases and it makes for a tune that sounds complete in every way.
10."Bring The Rock"
The album comes to a close with this one and it seems to be bit of a different one as they come out with one where they rhyme over something with a Rock influence as they attempt to show how they are able to appreciate other styles (which I felt was expected when you listen to the delivery of the MCs within the group and their closeness to Run-DMC's work. It is a nice way to end the thing, but does sound rather different to the rest here.
I felt that this was an unexpectedly strong debut album for the group to say that they would go on to re-invent themselves a couple of years later. I have to say that their "Naughty By Nature" album was a clear step down from this, but is not to say that they didn't stay in with the times and push boundaries too.