What if you had the ability to create your own world from the ground up? What rules would you create? What type of environment would you cultivate? As educators and artists, this is what rap duo Mother Nature attempt to do with their work—especially with their latest EP, Nature’s World. Their goal is to create a world built on community empowerment and equity, and cultivate respect and appreciation for the planet’s natural resources.
Composed of rappers Klevah and TRUTH, Mother Nature has established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in Chicago with their consistent musical output and educational workshop series, The Miseducation of HipHop. The pair first met in the 2010s while attending the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign, where they did grassroots community work and made music together. With encouragement from a mentor, they came up with hip-hop-centered workshops that teach young people how to express themselves wholeheartedly and become the best people they can be.
Hip-hop and education “just intersect,” says Klevah. “It’s just like who we are as being true to ourselves, our own paths, and being true to what cultivated Mother Nature to begin with.
“Anybody can go back to our first project and know what we’re about and where our politics stand and whatnot. But doing the music is just a part of the mission, and then doing the education aspect—the knowledge—that is a part of the mission too. They exist with each other.”
Mother Nature’s TRUTH (left) and Klevah (right), with producer Renzell. Credit: ThoughPoet
That never-ending quest for knowledge has helped them tour the country to perform and teach others. However, it wasn’t until their previous project, 2021’s SZNZ, that they landed placements in national publications with a brash, in-your-face rap style. With Nature’s World, produced entirely by Renzell, they bring an energy that is more soothing and calming.
“Renzell’s music allows us to just sit down, sit back, relax, catch a vibe. We not biting people’s heads off as much, you know what I’m saying?” says TRUTH. “The bars is always gonna come with Mother Nature projects, but I feel like it’s our Divine Feminine-type project. I feel like we always ‘rawr rawr’ all the time, and on this one, it allows us to be more introspective and explore ourselves in different ways. . . . We on our queenly throne at this point, head held high, just doing what we do.”
Spirituality has always held an important role in the lives of both, and there’s no doubt in their minds that connecting with Renzell occurred via divine intervention. Mother Nature and Renzell had known of each other for some time—but actually getting in the studio together was a fateful encounter that happened when the time was right. In those recording sessions, they felt a collective chemistry, and felt they were operating on the exact same frequency.
That can perhaps be credited to Renzell’s knowledge of the science behind how sound waves affect the human mind. “I always knew that a certain frequency made us move in a certain way,” he says. “So that made me then want to study what that meant in music and what certain frequencies did to the body. And then in turn, obviously, I’m making music that provides that feeling internally. It all kind of started to go hand in hand because you know, it’s like a very soulful music that we create. It comes from the soul. We are vessels of what is actually happening. The universe is blessing us with these sounds and these ideas and these people around us, and then we become vessels of that frequency that we’ve all vibrated to.”
In March, Mother Nature opened for Mick Jenkins, with whom Renzell has worked closely since the beginning of his career. A documentary planned to be released along with Nature’s World gives viewers an in-depth look at the project’s creation; in it, Renzell says that Mother Nature’s performance impressed Jenkins so much that it reminded him of the fi rst time he saw Smino. Garnering such praise from a respected artist like Mick meant a lot to Mother Nature and helped them to push their work to a higher level.
“I know exactly how it looks when an artist is hungry and got that mind state to make records, put them out correctly, and go onstage and have that stage presence,” Renzell says.
“All of those things make up a world-renowned artist, and not just a local artist. I’ve seen it in Mick, I’ve seen it in Smino, Chance, Vic Mensa, I saw it in Noname. I’ve seen it more than once, basically . . . Mother Nature definitely checks all those boxes.”
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