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Mother Nature

Source: Nicci Briann / N. Briann

Chicago has long cemented its place as a hub of some of Hip-Hop’s brightest and best artists, and the pride of residents of the Windy City shines through their bars and beats. Adding on to an already strong tradition is Mother Nature, a duo with a focus on lyrics but also sisterhood, securing foundations within their hometown and promising to always have something to say within their music.

The Early Grind

Mother Nature consists of rappers Klevah and TRUTH, with both in strong possession of distinctive rhyme styles and equally razor-sharp lyrical ability. Over the course of four projects, Mother Nature has uniquely shifted their sound with each release, culminating in the ear-pleasing collection of records on their latest full-length project, SZNZ alongside producer Boathouse.

Hip-Hop Wired had the good fortune of speaking briefly with Klevah and TRUTH as we spoke about their start in the game, the days leading up to SZNZ, and what plans they have for future projects. TRUTH opened up by saying that the early days of Mother Nature were something of an uphill climb but they eventually found their footing.

“Our early grind was a grind,” Truth begins with laughter coming from Klevah during the breakdown. “We were fresh off the high of being the top MCs and performers in Champaign at the University of Illinois campus where we first joined. We knew we reached a ceiling in our local college town so we decided to go up to Chicago and really build from the ground up and get this thing moving.”

TRUTH, who is a native of Chicago, says that the homecoming was necessary along with her sister in tow in order to planet more creative seeds. With unflinching honesty, TRUTH spoke of their work on the open mic circuit, long bus rides, and doing whatever it took for their dreams to manifest into reality.

“What made this more of grind was we were already grown women, so a lot of what we were was already established but we had to come together and make group decisions, and knowing what we wanted to do, it was so paramount for us to come into our own individual selves while also coming together as a group,” TRUTH added.

“We went through sleeping on floors, the grind being what it was, and like TRUTH said, we are grown women doing this,” Klevah shared, backing up her partner’s points. “We already did college, we already went through that, so coming to Chicago and starting from the ground up, it was our faith in ourselves that really grew in that time. Our ability to trust each other, and be vulnerable with each other, I think that was the biggest part.”

Klevah continued with, “And for us to be committed to a vision together and never give up. I never had a doubt that TRUTH would be like ‘I don’t wanna do this no more’ nor did I feel that way so it’s rare that you see people stick together and stay grounded in a vision and stay committed to that vision through action.”

Klevah shares that while the early days were replete with the requisite trials and tribulations faced by almost all music artists, adding that they worked on their show performance and became known within Chicago’s Hip-Hop circuit due to their sheer will and ability.

Despite their formidable talents, what truly shined through in our chat with the two was the humility in both Klevah and TRUTH. While they recognize their musical talents, they also believe highly in spreading that love back as they know exactly what it’s like to work hard to be heard above the din of more popular acts not only in their city but also abroad.

SZNZ Season

Mother Nature kept busy after the 2016 release of their self-titled debut project, which was followed by the excellent 2019 release, Saturn Return. The dynamic duo continued upward with their explosive arc in 2020’s Portalz, their first release on their current label, Closed Sessions. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that with each release, Mother Nature improved not only their rhyme schemes but also the depths of their songwriting flourished in unexpected ways as well.

We asked Klevah and TRUTH to break down the finer points of SZNZ and what they hoped to achieve with this release, along with inquiring about what’s next to come.

“We just gotta give a big shout out to Closed Sessions for even putting Boathouse [the producer of SZNZ] in our range and link us with our labelmates. Our first time meeting Boathouse, it was a very fluid match, like his musical tastes, his ability to create, his expansive knowledge about music in general.”

TRUTH explained that the group’s initial meeting with Boathouse was so fruitful that they knocked out a handful of songs in one session but took a bit of a breather as the pair were working on another album. However, the realities and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic rendered those plans null and they requested a pack of beats from Boathouse, which led to them tearing through the selection and creating SZNZ.

Remarkably, TRUTH and Klevah say they freestyled all of their verses on Boathouse’s “Smack Pack” as they called it, and let them sit for a year before returning to refine some of the ideas they put down. The chemistry between Mother Nature and Boathouse was so organic that they intend to work with him on further projects when the time is right.

The Next Steps

Given that Klevah made mention earlier in the chat that they were known for being performers, we asked them about potential tours in support of SZNZ and how has the transition been to be sitting and waiting while the pandemic’s impact grows less severe.

“We miss the stage, we miss performing, having people say your own lyrics back to you, we’re ready to get back to that,” Klevah said.

SZNZ has a number of notable features, and one of those tracks became a single in “CLOUDZ” featuring Sir Michael Rocks of The Cool Kids fame. Klevah said that they mulled over several names as a feature for the track but was elated to land on Mikey Rocks for the joint.

“We had a lot of names ready to go but something in my spirit said that this is a Sir Michael Rocks record,” Klevah explained.

With the help of Boathouse and Closed Sessions, they were able to secure what they both said was possibly their biggest feature to date especially given that Rocks seemingly hasn’t done many features with Chicago artists.

“To have a record with someone like Sir Michael Rocks, it’s like a major thing, our first major feature, but I don’t know if he sees himself that way but we do. And to have him and Valee on the record just shows the range of Mother Nature. We’re blessed to have one of The Cool Kids on a record with us and we’re gonna remember this forever. Hopefully, this is a good first impression for listeners who discover us,” Klevah said with gratitude.

The next steps on the horizon for Mother Nature is to keep promoting the SZNZ release and get ready to perform the record as outside continues to gradually happen. They also are fine-tuning the connection with their creative collective known as TheGr8Thinkaz and keeping their bars and flows in tip-top form.

The pair are also Hip-Hop educators by way of their The Miseducation of Hip Hop workshop series, often stylized as MISED. Find out more about their work in that space by following this link.

Be sure to check out Mother Nature’s latest project SZNZ at your preferred DSPs.

Photo: Nicci Briann