Mother Nature inspires social change through hip hop

By Natalie Stewart

But to her fans, she’s known as T.R.U.T.H.ch

The acronym — literally meaning “the real under the hate” — was initially a childhood nickname. Now, it has gleaned special meaning as she’s entered the world of hip-hop. She wants to embody “truth” through her music, a message that carries into her hip-hop group, Mother Nature. Shasta Knox, otherwise known as Klevah, joins T.R.U.T.H to form the rap duo.ch

Klevah shared the same sentiments as T.R.U.T.H when it comes to the major influence that hip-hop had on her childhood.

“My dad is a hip-hop head, so growing up with him was just very influential from the beginning, even before I knew what it really was. I didn’t know it was hip-hop; it was just kind of the background to my childhood,” she said.

T.R.U.T.H and Klevah are using their shared passion for hip-hop music to fight for social justice and make a change in the community around them, but before they recognized this avenue as their calling, they were students at the University who had a love for rhyme. Initially, they were two separate emcees that came together through their involvement with the Registered Student Organization known as W.O.R.D, or Writers Organization Realistic Dialect, where they initially met.ch

“I kind of forget sometimes of how much that set me up,” Klevah said about the organization. “It was just one of those things that kind of guided me through a period of my life, and it made me a greater artist.”

In addition to it’s technical benefits, Klevah said the RSO became more like a family.

“At the time, going to U of I, I was very heavily into my academics, as I was in high school, but then with W.O.R.D, it really gave me a creative outlet I’ve never had before. To have an organization that was also built of people that you love and that you have respect for, it was much more than an RSO. We became a family.”

A student in AHS, T.R.U.T.H said her involvement with the spoken word group inspired her to pursue music as a career path instead of just a sideline passion.

“I wouldn’t even be doing this if it wasn’t for W.O.R.D because that just really opened a door for me … I knew it was my passion, but I wasn’t looking at it like a career move in that type of regard,” she said. “W.O.R.D really pushed me.”

Through their music, Mother Nature delivers a message of female empowerment and pride in afrocentrism, a cultural ideology dedicated to black history. It’s a direction that they say formed on its own, and it’s considered a necessity to cover.

“When we came up with the Mother Nature thing with the EP, it was just natural. We didn’t have no set. It just flowed like that,” T.R.U.T.H said. “We just so happened to talk about black women and ‘fros and the system and different types of stuff.”

“That’s who we are,” Klevah continued. “Those are the things that we actually do really care about, so it just naturally comes through the music.”

Klevah said hip-hop’s ability to touch and relate to all types of people is a major push behind her dedication to the craft.

“The reason why I continue to be within the culture is just because it’s the best culture I can think of, and it’s universal, and everybody can relate,” she said. “Hip-hop has changed more people’s lives than religion or anything because it’s raw, it’s real and it’s knowledgeable, and you gotta really know what you’re talking about.”

Catherine Sanchez, one of Mother Nature’s representatives, said Mother Nature’s music embodies the power of unity and grants a voice to all who are open to its message.

“I believe music like this really has the power to unite people and bring about change, but artists rarely embrace this power that their music can hold,” Sanchez said. “Klevah and T.R.U.T.H do not run from this power, but instead, they pull it right out of each other and share it with those around them. For Mother Nature to spread this energy in order to empower people of color, women and oppressed peoples in general is extraordinary. It takes extreme courage and complete vulnerability to put yourself out there like that.”

Both emcees say that they draw inspiration from within as much as they do from the world around them.

“Stress and discomfort and insecurity,” Klevah said. “Those things are what inspire me.”

Those personal insecurities and imperfect circumstances are the best catalysts for producing music that truly reflects what’s on the inside, said T.R.U.T.H.

“If I were a perfect person and had the best self-esteem and all that other type of stuff, I don’t feel like I had anything to talk about,” she said. “You need the muck and the harshness of reality to be like ‘OK, I need to write about this.’”

That sense of relation is felt by all who hear Mother Nature’s music, said Brittany Darling, who is also a part of the management of Mother Nature.

“The experience with them is like surreal; it’s so rare to find that genuine love that you can feel when you step into the room,” she said. “Their music is powerful and thought provoking, and it’s different because you can hear the history behind their experiences by just the sound of their voice.”

In their own words, Mother Nature’s message and music is “undeniable.”

“It’s magic. It’s something that you really can’t explain. It’s God-given in a way,” Klevah said. “When we actually sat down and worked on this project, we didn’t know how it was going to flow. It just happened consistently.”

Hip-hop is getting back to its roots, according to Klevah.

“It’s getting back to the important things. It’s not so much about image. It’s more about your hustle and your spirit and how hard you come on the mike,” she said. “I would say we definitely are in that category, but I just kind of see it as an explosion right now.”

Their progression has made them realize that there is so much more to be uncovered.

“At each level you reach, you realize you see everything much more. You see the picture,” Klevah said. “I feel like we haven’t seen the whole picture; we’re only looking at a little portion of it.”

Hip-hop is on the brink of creating a social revolution, and Mother Nature is a key piece, according to Sanchez.

The duo will perform Feb. 6 at 10:30 p.m. with Exmag at the Canopy Club.

“The work Mother Nature creates, the way it makes people feel, the messages that it is bringing back into modern hip-hop, it’s very real and very necessary,” she said. “If there is anyone who could lead a revolution right now, it’s Mother Nature.”

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