Chicago rap duo Mother Nature, composed of MCs TRUTH, 29, and Klevah, 29, spit from the pits of their souls. On the lead single for their upcoming EP, the duo roll over a positively wavy beat. The production sounds like cursive come to life, and T.R.U.T.H. and Klevah rap with a magnetic fervor. “Time don’t wait for fear,” “Only love in the atmosphere,” and other quotables pepper the single before a soothing melodic moment ushers us into the following verse. In terms of structure, “Antidote” is the well-made single: Built to last, with an emphasis on everything the pair can do well from singing, to writing, to rap, to working with each other to build a creative world and sisterhood.
“Becoming Mother Nature, sisterhood became so key,” Klevah tells me over the phone. “The sisterhood shared between us allows us to be free in who we are. It allows us to be silly and fun. We know the work is getting done, so it allows us to breathe and be our best selves at all times. I don’t know if that experience would be the same if I was working with just men. It’s something about working in a girl-duo that allows me to trust things are being done. It brings out the best parts of myself.”
With that, Mother Nature’s music is preoccupied with healing. Mother Nature’s music is about love without limits. Each of their songs boasts lines about betterment, the universe, and standing as the cure for our current cultural moment. Their message of lightness and peering through mental fog feels deeply necessary and welcome.
“Man, if people are healing with us just as we’re healing,” Klevah muses, “that’s what the music comes from. As well as being a prescription for you, it’s also a prescription for me. We do believe that through frequency and vibration and sound, we can heal together. We each have that antidote.”
Let Mother Nature be the salve we need in these confusing times. Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: When did you both fall in love with the power of words?
TRUTH: Definitely in childhood; I’ve always been a writer. Always scribblin’ words together, whether it’s poetry or raps. I always had a composition book full of words, ideas, things like that. It was my first mode of communication, I’d say. It was my first introduction to expression and getting my thoughts and feelings out. The love of words came from that, from a fear that became a more open expression of who I am.
Klevah: I’m the daughter of a wordsmith. I fell in love with words very early. My pops was freestylin’ and introducin’ me to hip-hop through the Golden Era. I used to mimic everything he was listening to. I would learn the lyrics and write them down. The early 90s is where I fell in love with words that weren’t traditional to what I was hearing in the mainstream.
How did you two meet?
Klevah: We met at the U of I [University of Illinois] in this organization called W.O.R.D.. I was a senior, T.R.U.T.H. was a junior, and we were both in it as the only women that rapped. We naturally gravitated towards each other, and it started as a sisterhood. That’s the foundation of our relationship: sisterhood. We came up together, and after college, we both were still pursuing the art pretty heavy. We were both performing [a lot], involved in activism in our community, and before you know it, we were given an opportunity to perform together. Once we were given that opportunity to make music together, it was a done deal.
TRUTH: Our first project was initially titled Mother Nature, and that went over quite well in the U of I Champaign. We were like, “We have to run with this.” We came to Chicago, and have been building from the ground up ever since. That was 2016, 2017.
Klevah: Four years strong, baby!
A little birdy told me Jamila Woods introduced you to label-head Alex of Closed Sessions. What’s the relationship with Jamila like?
TRUTH: She is the homegirl, a sweetheart, a blessing. We initially met her at one of her earlier concerts in Chicago. Chopped it up and been able to stay in connection. She gave us the word, “Y’all should be in contact with Closed Sessions.” It was crazy because it was already one of our goals when we got to Chicago, to figure out how to get in tune with them. At that time, when it was right, and we had already been building in Chicago, she put that bug in [his] ear again, and it was, “Yes, let’s figure out a meeting.” It’s been great, moving with them and working as a unit.
Klevah: It feels good to have that Black girl confirmation. [Jamila] being who she is to Chicago and the community, and all the time she’s given us advice or an opportunity, I just look at it as a blessing. A Black girl putting another Black girl in a position to win.
How does Chicago itself influence your sound and career?
TRUTH: As of late, it’s made us more hermit-like. It allows us to get things done despite everything and amplifies our adaptability. One day it’s raining, one day it’s sunny, one day it’s snowing, but regardless, we gotta get things done. We gotta make these moves. It makes you roll with the punches, and whatever happens, happens.
What does being in a duo bring out of you that you wouldn’t get as solo acts?
Klevah: Awh! That has a lot of answers. For me, it brings out my child-like personality. I never had a sister growing up, and because we rap, we hang out with dudes a lot. Becoming Mother Nature, sisterhood became so key. The sisterhood shared between us allows us to be free in who we are. It allows us to be silly and fun. We know the work is getting done, so it allows us to breathe and be our best selves at all times. I don’t know if that experience would be the same if I was working with just men. It’s something about working in a girl-duo that allows me to trust things are being done. It brings out the best parts of myself.
TRUTH: What she said.
Klevah: We could play off each other, too. Making music solo, my music sounds different. When I do music with T.R.U.T.H., there’s a certain elevation, and when she does something, I have to match that energy and keep it going.
I know you two have done your fair share of open mics. What’s the biggest lesson you learned from your tour of open mics?
TRUTH: Never underestimate anybody. It might look like, “Eh, I don’t know,” but it’s all about the energy that’s conjured in the space. It’s all about the people and their stories. It shows you what the surface is, and once they open their mouths, it’s the boundless ways they express themselves and the layers people are composed of. I like to see up-and-coming talent and new people. It’s an amazing experience because you never know what to expect.
Klevah: That’s where you find the freshest, most authentic artistry, as well. Things are being done that you’ve never seen before.
TRUTH: At the core of hip-hop, anyway, is kids and youth. What’s going on; what are they talking about? We also do hip-hop workshops, so it allows us to tap into, “Okay, this is what the kids are talking about, that can turn into a lesson. That can turn into a workshop.” It’s dope.
How does Mother Nature teach you self-love? I mean the self-reckoning kind of self-love, not the treating yourself self-love.
Klevah: Right, you gotta be willing to go through pain and pressure. A lot of us fall short; it’s not an easy process. It’s not always smooth. It can be very rigid, very confusing. Very lonely. We also preach having a great collective around you that sees your vision and sees you in your fullness and can guide you to that point. I go back and forth with self-love all the time. I’ve been working on this for so long. Man, if people are healing with us just as we’re healing… That’s what the music comes from: As well as being a prescription for you, it’s also a prescription for me. We do believe that through frequency and vibration and sound, we can heal together. We each have that antidote.
TRUTH: Well spoken.