Treach Bio

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Every time I hear “Hip Hop Hooray,” my spirits are lifted for some visceral reason.

Maybe it’s the feel-good vibes generated by the track’s production. Maybe it’s the colorful music video that makes you want to wave your hands like Queen Latifah. Or maybe I’m simply carried away by the ’90s nostalgia that this song is absolutely oozing with.

Okay, I’ve made up my mind. “Hip Hop Hooray” is that damn good because of the emcees spitting the verses. And between the two poets unleashing their finest bars in this anthem, I’d have to say that I’m impartial to the guy that went second.

While Naughty by Nature has been rightfully recognized as one of the most talented hip hop groups to ever exist, I feel like its frontman should be given his flowers more often.

After all, the emcee known as Treach is a rapper’s rapper—a technically gifted, highly charismatic performer who has earned the adulation of his peers.

There’s a reason why Eminem singled out “Treach of Naughty by Nature” in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech.

Though Treach’s legacy will be forever tied to the success that he gained as part of the iconic trio, his skills on the mic are a story in and of itself. In the hallowed halls of wordsmiths who have elevated the craft of hip hop, Treach has carved a niche all for himself.

Quick Facts

treach and pepa

Birth Date December 2, 1970
Birth Place East Orange, New Jersey
Nick Name Tiny T Treachery
Nationality American
Zodiac Sign Sagittarius
Siblings Diesel Criss (brother)
Children Egypt Criss (b. 1998)
Partner/Spouse Sandra “Pepa” Denton (m. 1999, d. 2001)


Cicely Evans (m. 2019)

Most Successful Songs “O.P.P.” (with Naughty by Nature)


“Hip Hop Hooray” (with Naughty by Nature)

“Feel Me Flow” (with Naughty by Nature)

Net Worth Estimated value of $2 million (as of 2022)
Social Media

Major Awards 1996 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album (for Poverty’s Paradise; with Naughty by Nature)


Favorite New Artist – Rap/Hip Hop, 1992 American Music Awards (with Naughty by Nature)

Last updated December 11, 2022

Early Years

He was born Anthony Criss on December 2, 1970 in East Orange, New Jersey. Close attention should be given to the backdrop of Anthony’s hometown in order to understand the young man’s growth as a maestro of the mic.

By no stretch of the imagination was this backdrop pretty: throughout the years, East Orange has been a restless community ravaged by poverty and crime.

Here’s how a 1993 Rolling Stone piece described Anthony’s stomping grounds: “a residential ghetto about 10 miles west of Manhattan, where cars with darkened windows crawl ominously through the streets and the local police recorded 1,937 violent crimes in 1992.

When people speak of picturesque decay, they have something else in mind.”

As shady as young Anthony’s East Orange was, its young residents would find a thrilling new medium of expression in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

In the boroughs of New York City—that is, right in Jersey’s backyard—a genre of music began to take on the identity of urban inhabitants dealing with the social ills of inequality and discrimination. This genre would come to be known as hip hop.

Unsurprisingly, this new wave of music would spill over to the Big Apple’s neighboring areas. As the early ’80s unfolded, Jersey residents—like, say, the teenagers running around East Orange—would come to appreciate beatboxing, emceeing, and all the other colorful aspects that hip hop had to offer.

One East Orange lad by the name of Kier Gist would actually be inspired by the 1983 film Wild Style, which is widely regarded as the first motion picture with a predominant hip hop theme. Consequently, Kier entered the hip hop world as a DJ by the name of Kay Gee.

A DJ, of course, needs other artists to produce that full-blown hip hop experience. To this end, Kay Gee tapped his childhood buddy Vincent Brown (who would don the name Vin Rock) to pull off the beatboxing.

Though Vin could spit verses as well, he ended up recruiting one of his high school classmates to become the lead emcee of the burgeoning trio.

That classmate was none other than Anthony Criss, who was going by the moniker Tiny T Treachery. And so it was that, in 1986, Anthony (who would later shorten his name to Treach) came to join Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee to form a wildly talented group destined to dominate the charts in the ensuing decade.

The Trio Breaks into the Business


Like any other musical act in the industry, the three gentlemen had to pay their dues. Going by the name The New Style, they started off in local talent shows, in which they were frequently crowned as the winning acts.

By dominating these competitions, The New Style started to generate some buzz in the Jersey area. As such, in terms of the live performance aspect of hip hop, Treach and his buddies were off to a great start.

Eventually, the group had to prove their worth as recording artists. On December 5, 1989, they released their debut album Independent Leaders under the imprint of MCA Records.

This album had a strong DIY feel to it, as the production was mostly put together by Treach, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee themselves (rather than a separate team of well-established producers).

For giggles, listen to the first track “Scuffin’ Those Knees”. Between the Golden Era-style verses and the distinct ’80s flavor of the audio production, you can hear plenty of raw talent that most certainly hasn’t scratched the surface of its potential.

(I also find it funny that the Genius page for this song doesn’t even contain all the lyrics. There are quite a few question marks throughout the verses, which indicates that the individual who started transcribing the lyrics had no choice but to give up on certain indiscernible words.)

Independent Leaders would hardly make a dent in terms of commercial and artistic impact. As such, The New Style would have to find fresh ways to climb the ranks. Eventually, they decided to stage their own talent show with the hopes of attracting more attention to their music.

As it turned out, members of a New York-New Jersey faction called The Flavor Unit came out to see what the trio had to strut. Fortunately for The New Style, one Flavor Unit member decided that she could unlock greatness from the three men.

Around the time that Dana “Queen Latifah” Owens caught wind of The New Style, she had just started to make waves in the hip hop world. In the late ’80s, she had signed with Tommy Boy Records and released her first single “Wrath of My Madness.”

In 1989, at the tender age of 19, she released her debut album All Hail the Queen, which went on to crack the Billboard 200. While I recognize that Latifah was no seasoned veteran by this point, her industry connections ended up becoming a crucial factor to the eventual success of her freshly discovered Jersey talents.

Latifah ended up signing Treach, Vin, and Kay Gee to her management company, and lent them a valuable assist in getting signed with Tommy Boy Records. With the backing of a big-time record label, the trio could now launch themselves into the atmosphere.

Right before their takeoff, they shed their old name (which, let’s be honest, sounded very old school) and became Naughty by Nature.

Before I go any further, I have a quick note on the dynamic between Treach and Latifah. Judging by a 2020 Instagram Live session between Treach and Fat Joe, the Naughty by Nature frontman absolutely reveres the Queen that gave his group their big break.

Treach waxed nostalgic when he recalled Latifah getting physical with some people that she wasn’t particularly happy with. “I’ve never seen Latifah mop up a female,” Treach clarified. “It was all dudes.” (I found it even funnier when Joe shared his own story: one night, Latifah got so intoxicated that she chased him around with a knife! Don’t ever mess with the Queen.)

A Streak of Naughty

September 3, 1991 might as well be called the “real” official debut of Naughty by Nature. Though the album they dropped on this day is technically the second of their discography, this is when they truly emerged as legitimate players in the rap game.

The album Naughty by Nature made one thing perfectly clear: the trio had plenty of drawing power among the loyalists of the hip hop genre and the mainstream audience. One of the driving forces of this album’s success was its lead single “O.P.P.” I cannot help but smirk multiple times as I attempt to describe this seminal track.

Let me begin by pointing out how ironic it is that a song as wholesome as The Jackson 5’s “ABC” was sampled in order to create a track about male and female genitalia. Oh, well!

Treach drops all three verses in this track, and he knocks this one right out of the park with all the skills he showcased.

His delivery is strong enough to make you pay full attention, yet he cracks you up time and again with wacky punchlines and story-telling. “O is for ‘other,’ P is for ‘people,’ scratch your temple,” he clarifies. “The last P, well, that’s not that simple/It’s sort of like, oh well, another way to call a cat a kitten.”

As hip hop fans across America roared in laughter at the many quips, “O.P.P.” went on to peak at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, eventually securing a double platinum certification.

The Naughty by Nature album itself went platinum, meaning that the floodgates had officially opened for the Jersey trio. Naughty by Nature had arrived, and it was hellbent on taking the ’90s by storm.

Two years later, on February 23, 1993, the group released its third album 19 Naughty III. I don’t like it when the term “hip hop anthem” gets thrown around loosely, but I will gladly slap this label on 19 Naughty III‘s lead single “Hip Hop Hooray.”

Here, Treach shares the mic with Vin Rock, and while I’m not exactly sure if they were trying to outrap each other, Treach wins right off the bat with his opening quips and internal rhymes:

This ain’t got shit to do with shampoo

But watch your head and shoulder

Brother older, bold enough to fold ya, yo I told ya

A raid afraid of what I made and played it, plus a funky fit

So save ‘yo flips and tricks for that music and the monkey bit

Forget the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The man should have won the Robert Frost Medal for that one.

Aside from the platinum-certified “Hip Hop Hooray,” two other songs from 19 Naughty III cracked the Billboard Hot 100: “It’s On” and “Written on Ya Kitten.” 19 Naughty III ended up becoming the group’s second platinum-certified album in a row. Just to put things in perspective:

Naughty by Nature already had two platinum-certified albums six months before Wu-Tang Clan dropped Enter the Wu-Tang; and nearly two full years before Mobb Deep put out The Infamous.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other career that Treach began in the interlude between Naughty by Nature and 19 Naughty III.

In 1992, Treach made his big-screen debut when he appeared in the crime thriller Juice. (This film, of course, was headlined by hip hop icon Tupac Shakur, who happened to be a close friend of Treach since 1990.) Treach would also appear in the 1993 superhero comedy The Meteor Man and the 1994 drama Jason’s Lyric, which co-stars Jada Pinkett.

With his rugged good looks and irresistible charm, Treach set himself up for a nice little film career on the side.

Music would remain at the forefront, and Naughty by Nature was by no means done with their winning ways. In 1995, they dropped their fourth album Poverty’s Paradise.

The most successful single spawned by this gold-certified project was “Feel Me Flow,” which peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s the type of song that you can play anywhere—in the car, by the pool, on the dance floor, wherever.

Yes Treach, we can feel you flow especially when your internal rhymes are so tight: “Comin’ from the town of Illy/And alleys are full of Phillies and Rallys/Suckers get silly as Sally then found in alleys, I’m rowdy, really”

Naughty by Nature would reach new heights with this album at the 1996 Grammy Awards, when it was named Best Rap Album. Tupac’s Me Against the World was among the finalists for this category, and I can only imagine the playful banter that Pac and Treach had in the aftermath of the latter’s victory.

Sadly, Pac would leave Treach behind on September 13, 1996, when he succumbed to injuries after a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. As a tribute to Treach’s fallen friend, Naughty by Nature recorded the song “Mourn You Til I Join You,” which was released on October 28, 1997.

And when Tupac was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, Treach probably made his buddy smile with his rather unique rendition of “Hail Mary.”

Plenty of Twists and Turns

As it turned out, the “Mourn You Til I Join You” track would also mark an ending for Naughty by Nature in more ways than one.

It ended up being their last release under Tommy Boy, as they would depart the record label before the end of the decade. I’d also say that the track punctuated their streak on the summit of the hip hop industry. For the rest of the group’s run, they would strive to reach the highest of highs in their ’90s heyday.

In 1999, Naughty by Nature released their fifth album Nineteen Naughty Nine: Nature’s Fury. Like its predecessor, the album went on to be certified gold, spawning the top 10 hit “Jamboree” (which featured R&B duo Zhané).

However, it would take more than a dozen years for the trio to release another studio album. In the years that followed Nineteen Naughty Nine, infighting would rock the group and affect their productivity.

In 2000, DJ Kay Gee would leave the group after a financial dispute, in which he was accused by Treach of mishandling the group’s monetary resources.

With Kay Gee pursuing other ventures in his production career, the duo of Treach and Vin Rock would release the next Naughty by Nature album (a 14-track project called IIcons) in 2002.

Though the album peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200, it did not reach the same level of commercial success that the group’s previous projects had attained.

For the rest of the 2000s, Naughty by Nature would remain dormant. In the meantime, Treach’s film and TV career picked up. On the big screen, Treach headlined the 2002 action flick Love and a Bullet; and also starred in films like 2005’s Today You Die and 2009’s The Art of War III: Retribution.

On the small screen, Treach amassed a number of roles on crime drama series like Law & Order: Trial by JuryLaw & Order: Criminal Intent, and The Sopranos.

Meanwhile, Treach’s saga with his Naughty by Nature cohorts would continue to play out like a TV thriller of its own. He would work out his differences with Kay Gee, and on December 13, 2011, the seventh Naughty by Nature album (titled Anthem Inc.) would hit the shelves.

Aside from new singles, Anthem Inc. also offered 20th-anniversary versions of their greatest hits like “Hip Hop Hooray” and “O.P.P.”

I said “TV thriller,” right? Because there definitely wasn’t a fairy tale ending to speak of at this point in time. On May 6, 2013, Treach sent out a Tweet to “officially” fire Vin Rock from Naughty by Nature!

Two days later, in an exclusive interview with, Treach accused Vin Rock of having ego issues and even alleged that his former bandmate had not quite pulled his own weight. “You never wrote one hit,” Treach said bluntly. “You never produced one hit song.”

Bizarrely, Kay Gee (who had his own feud with Treach in the 2000s) appeared to side with Treach when they made a joint appearance on The Breakfast Club shortly after Treach’s fiery Tweets.

During this radio appearance, Treach claimed that Vin had gotten physical with him back in 2011; this was supposedly the reason why Treach and Vin had not been on speaking terms for two years. (For his part, Vin Rock used the Naughty by Nature Twitter profile to claim that “You can’t fire the owner.”)

Can you guess what happens next? Once again, Treach and a friend-turned-foe were able to patch things up. By 2016, the trio of Treach, Kay Gee, and Vin Rock joined forces to embark on a nationwide tour to celebrate Naughty by Nature’s 25th anniversary.

To date, Naughty by Nature has not released a new studio album since 2011’s Anthem Inc. In the meantime, will the group’s centerpiece ever release a solo project? In an August 2022 appearance on Sway in the Morning, Treach revealed the one condition that would make him want to drop a solo album.

“I’ve got catalogs for years,” he bragged. “I want to release it but I ain’t gonna release it to nobody unless Em put it out. He called me out, now I’mma call him out.”

If Eminem ever decides to make this happen, that would be a momentous occasion for hip hop. If it doesn’t, I don’t think Treach’s legacy would take a hit.

Since the early ’90s, Treach has made music fans across the globe wave their hands in the air with his inexhaustible energy and dazzling rhymes. Now that ought to make the boy from East Orange, New Jersey belt out a huge hip hop hooray.


I cannot help but compare the legacy of Treach to that of another wordsmith belonging to an iconic hip hop group. Here’s my argument: if Andre 3000 of Outkast gets massive respect despite not releasing any solo album, why shouldn’t Treach receive the same love?

You can even look at it from two perspectives: either Treach is a tremendous talent that clearly stands out in a crowd, or he is a strong frontman that is largely responsible for the success of Naughty by Nature. Take your pick.

Why is Treach Influential?

Treach appeals to both hardcore hip hop heads and the more pop-oriented mainstream. On one hand, he deftly employs internal rhymes and intricate flows to satisfy the lofty standards of rap purists.

On the other hand, his punchlines, imagery and story-telling are so damn entertaining that the general music audience embraced him as an inimitable entertainer.


Question: What is the deal with Treach and Pepa?

Answer: In 1999, Treach got married to Sandra “Pepa” Denton, one-third of the female rap group Salt-n-Pepa. However, they ended up getting a divorce in 2001. Then, in her 2008 memoir Let’s Talk About Pep, Pepa vividly recounted multiple scenes in which Treach allegedly inflicted physical abuse on her during their marriage.
In the years that followed the memoir’s release, Treach denied Pepa’s claims. For what it’s worth, when Treach married his second wife Cicely Evans in 2019, Pepa was in attendance. On her Instagram account, she publicly congratulated the newlyweds.

Question: Has Treach fathered any children?

Answer: Treach and Pepa share a daughter named Egypt Criss, who was born in 1998. In 2022, Egypt got married to her reality TV co-star Samuel “Sam Mattick” Wright.

Question: Has Treach had any run-ins with the law?

Answer: In 1997, Treach and Vin Rock were arrested for possession of illegal weapons. Treach was again arrested in 2014 and cited for the offenses of reckless driving, driving past the speed limit, and driving with a suspended license. He has also had legal woes related to child support.

Bottom Line

In terms of both critical and commercial success, Treach has firmly cemented his place among the all-time greats of the hip hop industry. If any student of the rap game is looking for a great place to start, they’d be doing themselves a favor by breaking down verses penned by this poet from Jersey.

And if said student gets to master the basics, perhaps they can dig deeper into Treach’s bag of tricks and get a little, well, naughty.


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