Mother Nature
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Mother Nature

Chicago, IL | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF | AFTRA

Chicago, IL | SELF | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 2015
Duo Hip Hop Hip Hop




"Pygmalion 2015 Festival Review: The Top 10 Sets + Photos"

Klevah and T.R.U.T.H only just released their first tracks together as Mother Nature earlier this month, but their onstage rapport felt like it had emerged from a lifelong friendship. The Champaign-based MCs took the second-to-last slot of Saturday night, finishing a combustive set just minutes before Run the Jewels were scheduled to take the main stage. Pygmalion puts a lot of trust in its young locals, and Mother Nature more than earned it.

Ferocious, political, and life-affirming, Mother Nature’s tracks unwound at a dizzying pace throughout the evening. An early song honored the #SayHerName campaign, listing female victims of police brutality and calling for an end to state-sponsored violence against black women, while the duo’s newly released single “Afro” took the shape of a love song to girls with natural hair. Both T.R.U.T.H and Klevah commanded the stage with rattlesnake flow, but the most engaging part of their performance was the way they’d play off each other’s energy. When they hugged at the end of the set, their shared joy at a job well done radiated out to the rest of us. –Sasha Geffen - Consequence of Sound

"Mother Nature: Female Hip Hop Duo Empowered to Bring Social Change"

Maya Angelou once said, "I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass." And like the quote, women within in communities across the United States are assuming bold stances and using their voices and talents to become key players in movements pushing for change.

Hip Hop duo, Mother Nature, out of Champaign, Illinois, comprised of two dynamic female emcees, T.R.U.T.H. and Klevah, are some of those women making waves as both young activists and powerful hip hop emcees.

Photo By @twobrainz
T.R.U.T.H. (left) and Klevah (right) of Mother Nature. DJ Leg Two as support.

T.R.U.T.H is originally from the Austin neighborhood on Chicago's Westside and said writing preceded emceeing. She was an introvert as a child and sought writing as a way to get her feelings out. T.R.U.T.H later found emceeing as a fit for her creative expressions. She is inspired by Chicago hip hop artist Chance The Rapper and singer Michael Jackson--a fan of Jackson because of his ability to be himself and speak on social issues. Her Eve EP was released in February of 2015.

Klevah, is a native of Champaign and feels at home on the mic. Her father is an emcee and helped develop her craft in her early years. She recalls being exposed to artists such as Public Enemy, Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu, and other conscious artists. Her father helped her hone her craft, but her voice as an emcee came as she experienced life. Her album GLDN EP was released in November 2015.

Now joining forces, both artists were inspired by Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown's Gender and Women's Studies courses at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown is an Associate Professor in the Gender and Women's Studies and taught Klevah and T.R.U.T.H in various courses at the University.

"I never realized I could do everything I want to do in life through hip hop," Klevah said while also attributing Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown's guidance in realizing they could fuse hip hop with academics and other aspirations. In addition to inspiring the duo, Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown inspires other black girls through her organization Saving Our Lives, Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT), "a practice based, publicly engaged, collectively organized space for Black girls to envision Black girlhood anew."

Mother Nature aspires to "teach people to be solid within themselves," as Klevah put it. She added that people are looking for affirmation often times--a voice to tell them that the way they are feeling is understood and shared. The duo expresses yearn to specifically target the minds of younger people while also reaching them in a way that they can still find hip and enjoyable.

"I like to connect to the youth. Any movement is youth-based at the end of the day. Youth are on the ground level," T.R.U.T.H. explained.

Besides making tracks like "Afro", a track they hope young black women will listen to and feel empowered, T.R.U.T.H and Klevah of Mother Nature are involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.

"The music influenced the choice," Klevah explained as to what inspired them to become part of the movement. They attended a Black Lives Matter convening in Cleveland, Ohio earlier in 2015 to teach a workshop, which further empowered Mother Nature to aspire to teach more and understand their responsibility as both emcees and people of color.

After returning from Cleveland, Ohio, the two worked with others to set up a Black Lives Matter chapter in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, which is still in its beginning stages.

And inspired by recent police brutality incidents, T.R.U.T.H. is in the process of making a mix tape entitled, Millennial Protest Music. A song entitled, "Stop Killing My People," is one the tracks to be on the mixtape due to come out some time in January.

They agree that sometimes being a woman can make people doubt their abilities as an emcee but added that they see being a woman as a strength that gives them the ability to be "100 percent themselves."

"Women have a lot of power and the power to influence," Klevah said.

Mother Nature is expected to release their debut album sometime in Spring of 2016. Their music can be found on Bandcamp. - Huffington Post

"Klevah & Truth Have Teamed up to create the Force, Mother Nature"

There aren’t many forces in this world that are stronger than mother nature; whether she’s showing you beauty or pain she takes you by full force and demands your attention. It’s a tall order to fill, but I can honestly say that is how it feels when you listen to Klevah & Truth. I can attest to this with even more confidence after watching them perform with captivating energy, live at Champaign’s Pygmalion festival this past Saturday.

Central Illinois natives Klevah and Truth have both been releasing music as solo artists for a while now, but only recently have they teamed up to create Champaign’s most exciting new hip-hop duo, Mother Nature. They debuted their new name along with the song, “Afro,” which you can listen to below. It also features additional vocals by Cii La’Cole.

These self-prescribed “femcees” are genuine story-tellers. They’re not just laying down a verse over a beat, they’re using poetry and expressive lyricism to question your ideals of society. In “Afro,” the three of them reel you in with a catchy, upbeat hook before breaking it down for you one by one over the jazz infused beat.

“Let me play in yo afro like I’m your number one pick
you can lay in my lap yo I’ll lasso your ass quick”

The full Mother Nature EP is set to release later this fall. We’re excited to hear the finished product, but in the mean time if you liked this track you can also listen to the second single off the EP here.

Written by: @itsybits - Oak Cellar Door

"Q&A: Mother Nature"

After their explosive Pygmalion set ahead of Run The Jewels, Mother Nature – a new project between Klevah and T.R.U.T.H – have quickly won over the hearts of Champaign-Urbana. The tandem synergy is apparent even in their conversation, and will surely blow the audience away. Klevah and T.R.U.T.H are not your average, lukewarm duo. Instead, they are a force of nature, set to take Cowboy Monkey by storm tonight. Ahead of tonight’s set, we sat down with Klevah and T.R.U.T.H to learn a little more about the project.

buzz: Do you want make all of your project titles nature oriented, like your stage name?

Klevah : When we came up with the name of Mother Nature, we were trying to incorporate our own past work into a name for the duo.

T.R.U.T.H: The term Mother Nature is grounded in woman and nature, so our sound for the future will be in the vein of staying true to ourselves.

buzz: Do you feel like you have much in common with other female rap groups like Salt-N-Pepa?

T.R.U.T.H: We have a completely different sound from them, but I feel like if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here. We’re in a different type of lane. They had a lot of partying records, and we’re going for more of a lyrical sound with a message. At the same time, they have songs like “so what I’m with a man tonight, why are you in my business? Why can’t I do everything a man can do?”, so that much we have in common.

buzz: How was your experience with Pygmalion?

Klevah: It was the most connected I’ve felt on stage with an audience on one of the biggest platforms I’ve ever been on. We put so much energy and preparation into the performance. We knew it was going to be great, but the ability to bask in the moment was uplifting.

T.R.U.T.H: First off, it went too fast. We had a 35 minute set but it felt like 10. For me it was destiny-affirming. It showed us our power and what we could do with our music. We both had our share of big audiences and people vibing with our stuff, but I never got this type of reaction, solo.

Klevah: Same. Everyone had glowing faces, and I had her there just in case I messed up.

T.R.U.T.H: Oh, and shout out to Larry Gates. He DJ’ed for our set. He let us rehearse in his basement and he basically gave us his house to record in.

buzz: On the internet you only have three songs released. Do you have a track count for the project?

T.R.U.T.H: Spring 2016. We’re set to drop an 8-track album.

Klevah: We wanted to go ahead and put out a few songs. It’s hard to get an idea of how people will receive a project from a small sample, but at the same time, we’re going to take our time. We want to get our buzz up as much as possible before we drop it.

buzz: What do you plan on performing unreleased songs for your tonight’s Cowboy Monkey show?

Klevah: We’ll be playing some of Mother Nature and some of our individual stuff as well. People who couldn’t get that Pygmalion experience can get some of that plus more. That’s how it used to work back in the day without the internet, so we’ll be bringing it back to the 90s in that aspect. It makes the music more exclusive.

buzz: You are a part of two different production teams, P.S. and TheGr8Thinkaz, so how do you plan on merging the styles?

Klevah: We used one of her homies, F.W.Y.T.I.A for production. He responded quickly and ready to work. Then Rokmore of TheGr8Thinkaz, who does a lot of my work, did post-production.

T.R.U.T.H: He did what I like to call the spices and herbs. Make the tracks taste a little better.

buzz: If you had to give one or two sentences to tell what Mother Nature was about, what would it be?

T.R.U.T.H: Y’all always hit us with the deep questions at the end, huh. That’s a tough one.

Klevah: I was just gonna take one of T.R.U.T.H’s: “well you need love, and I got that so I give it, give it back.” What we’re doing is for us, but ultimately serves a greater purpose with every message in our music.

T.R.U.T.H: That’s good, I like it. We’re gonna roll with that.

buzz: The other performers before your show are The Fights and Bookmobile!. They don’t sound like rap groups.

T.R.U.T.H: T.R.U.T.H: It is a mixed card, but I kinda like it. I’m not a punk rock fan, but I do have friends who are locals and musicians that do dope stuff like Boycut and We The Animals. I really rock with their music. Immay not go out and listen to punk rock, but I would listen to them. We get to share love and space withartists of different genres and we get to give the audience a taste of our music, especially live. If I see someone live and rockin’ it, I’m going to vibe with them regardless.

Klevah: Performance is more about that exchange of energy because the artist needs that. When we get the love we gotta give it back.

buzz: Is Mother Nature a short lived thing? Are you going to Watch the Throne us or stick it out?

T.R.U.T.H: No, no, not at all.

Klevah: It’s never this easy to collab. With this situation, I don’t want to get out of this energy that has done so much for me personally and as an artist. I know how to express myself with someone who can appreciate what I do.

T.R.U.T.H: I can’t let this one go. It’s definitely not short-lived. We’re going to ride this one out to the top.

Mother Nature will perform tonight at Cowboy Monkey with The Fights and Bookmobile!. Doors at 9 p.m., show at 9:30 p.m. $10. Ages 19+. - Buzz Weekly

"Mother Nature- "Afro"- @MotherNatureKT"

Together Klevah & T.R.U.T.H are Mother Nature. Offering lyrical praise of Black women and their individuality while promoting Black love, “Afro” is a necessity to modern Hip Hop. These queens with a feature from Cii La’Cole dive into the ever-interesting topic of Black hair. Using exquisite album artwork, jazzy instrumentals that elevate from producer F.W.Y.T.A.I and separate verses that hypnotize, Mother Nature has earned a fan in me. Show support and follow this original and courageous Black duo. #MuchLove #Peace - SheBloggin

"Mother Nature EP by Klevah and T.R.U.T.H: The Elements Personified"

There is no greater time to be a hip hop head in Champaign-Urbana. While the towns have always boasted superb talent―there is deep hip hop history here―that two emcees joined forces to create something new is newsworthy.

Shasta Knox a.k.a KLEVAH, born and raised in Urbana, is goddess of the hip hop crossroads. She is a trickster warrior on the mic, unafraid and for good reason; her skill is second to no one. Tierney Reed a.k.a T.R.U.T.H looks up to KLEV as a big sister and rhymes like a mac truck going over the speed limit cuz the stories she tells are just that urgent. The highly anticipated drop date for their first joint project Mother Nature EP is Spring 2016, with several singles from the project already available via You will not want to miss their headlining performance on December 10th at Cowboy Monkey because with Mother Nature, KLEVAH and T.R.U.T.H elevate their already superior independent sound. As artists who produce so much in so little time and collaborate with so many different people, they know something about a quality whole and how to cooperate as a matter of survival. The conditions have been met for their coming together, therefore the Mother Nature EP deserves our full public attention. To do otherwise would only cost us more lives and unheard Black girl truths, neither of which we can afford.

“Or maybe it’s just different when you modest and you gifted and you give it,” KLEVAH rhymes on Golden, and the words are not lost on me. That’s a difference I want to live in and the kind of difference that makes a difference for those of us interested in social justice. Difference is the change she masterfully embraces to confront the darker sides of life in her music, making her an exceptional rapper whose rhyme play with life’s light is naturally effortless. Holding both/and simultaneously with hella audacity, in every verse spit, is definitive KLEVAH.

More than KLEVAH’s honesty, it seems to be her generosity imploring her to take to studio and stage for collective benefit. She started The Culture, an open mic set for people to express themselves creatively. For as dope of an emcee as she is, she can also run the bar, work the door, host, organize, design the space and manage it all to create the opportunity for someone else to express their vision in a spotlight that shows their art is cared for and appreciated. KLEVAH knows in-town hip hop talent deserve the very best platforms from which to showcase their art just as much as anyone else. Therefore, if access to the best stages continued to be ignored and/or denied by premier performance arts complexes and downtown establishments, KLEVAH creates the space needed for a necessary people, herself. It’s that hip hop can’t stop won’t stop ambition for the sake of belonging that those hostile to hip hop need to hear and heed through her music. So whether you riding out to KLEVAH’s music or fangirling a live performance, she is going to look back at you to make sure you got it, because that is love. But also recognize she’s looking back at you already so far gone, legions ahead of the rest. Don’t ever get it twisted.

To rewind back to T.R.U.T.H’s first project, Luxocracy, there is no realer moment than when she raps “wats real/how you really feel/cuz I don’t like what I see.” Her rhymes are to the point, intensely personal, and encourage you to look in the mirror to become a better person right along with her. Born and raised in Chicago, T.R.U.T.H is a part of the crew that decided to stay in Champaign-Urbana intentionally post-collegiate graduation. Like many who stay and give back to the town, she ought to be heard with the excitement reserved for national treasures and heralded as our very own hometown superhero.

Political and social issues are at the heart of her music, though it never comes across as preachy because you can always count on T.R.U.T.H. to also come through running strong game. Before, after, or during the rally, strategic meeting, protest, and one-on-one T.R.U.T.H fearlessly reminds us there is good love to be had. Her follow up project, E.V.E., proves she is a tried and tested champion emcee whose music boasts progressive metaphors, politics, and danceable beats at the same time. Behind the signature shades there is a complex mastermind vulnerably bearing her soul for collective witness and individual wholeness. She rhymes us to wellness, destination liberation. Her notebooks are freedom maps. T.R.U.T.H’s code is readiness, her mantra preparedness. Where T.R.U.T.H goes, you want to follow, and not turn back.

That these creative individuals came together to form a mighty duo giving us Mother Nature means, Black girl genius not only survives but wins with an uncompromising sound! In the tradition of unstoppable Black womanhood, both artists are also a part of other groups. KLEVAH is a member of The Gr8Thinkaz, and T.R.U.T.H represents Paradigm Shift. While working on their joint project, Mother Nature, they also recently released solo projects, including Golden and E.V.E., respectively.

In a system oriented toward competition, rather then collaboration, their resistance is a really big deal. Their commitment to interdependence and insistence on each other is evident on stage when they rhyme side by side, arms wrapped around the other’s back, supported by a lived out loud sister-soulhood. That they respect the long arc of each other’s triumphs as their very own is obvious by the way they interact after the lights go down, the crowd dissipates, and the show is over. Steady in the reach of their gifts, Mother Nature is a come up and a come back for all the people who desire forward movement. With the most gangsta all Black lives mattering barz, this EP means more than hope, but reveals Black girls done it again.

On the title track, Mother Nature, KLEVAH and T.R.U.T.H chant:

“I’m the one that u need

Meet me in the sky

217 i’m queen

But my reign is worldwide”

And they ain’t never lied. This is music for the public because it mobilizes and organizes us here while pointing toward new universals. We need KLEVAH and T.R.U.T.H because they are rhyming for our lives by showing us how possible we are. They’re right here, right now in the CU, soundtracking our politics and our private leisure activities, fully deserving of the kinds of opportunities Viola Davis recently called for in her 2015 Emmy Awards speech after winning for best leading actress. KLEVAH and T.R.U.T.H should be presented with so many opportunities here, the privilege of figuring out what to actually turn down would feel like a burden because it’s only 24 hours in the day. KLEVAH and T.R.U.T.H run the bizness and never not the other way around.

Regardless, before a big move, it all goes viral, and the producers have to construct a “where it all started Urbana-Champaign narrative,” it would be good to have to say, we heard them when they showed us the power of hip hop, while they were here. Whether they are organizing to stop local jail expansion, remembering Sandra Bland, kicking it with friends on the low and late night, or making music at somebody’s studio together and separately, KLEVAH and T.R.U.T.H punctuate the revolution impeccably, with dope beats, sublime poetic lyricism, and hopefully more Chris “Two Brainz” Smith visuals. Before it ever becomes mainstream, it is local. When the “Mother Nature EP” drops in the spring, support the artists who “rayze” us higher. The elements of hip hop personified by this duo sound like a balance between our community and the whole unknown universe. - The Public i

"Mother Nature Inspires Social Change through Hip Hop"

"I feel like I knew hip-hop before I knew what it actually was,” said Tierney Reed, a Champaign-area performer.

Rap duo Mother Nature shares a message of empowerment and advocates for social change. The duo performed during Pygmalion Festival at Cowboy Monkey.

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

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.

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.

“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.” - The Daily Illini

"Mother Nature Sheds Light on Cultural Issues"

The emcee rap duo Mother Nature graced the stage Thursday night at the Black-On-Black Rhyme poetry slam at 7th street Underground hosted by the African American Heritage Month Committee.
The group is made up of two up and coming artists, T.R.U.T.H. and Klevah, out of Champaign. They both said they started making music at a young age, and it became more serious as they got older.
“I would say I’ve been an artist all my life,” Klevah said. “The influence of hip-hop started early for me.”
The duo said their music is based on personal experiences as African-Americans and global events. Police brutality against African Americans and the high rates of black on black crime have directly affected their music, Klevah said.
“We actually created this project at the very end of 2015,” Klevah said. “So just everything that happened in 2015, down to us getting more involved in Black Lives Matter, it kind of all went into our writing.”
Mother Nature’s music is inspired by multiple things including daily struggles. The group said they often freestyle unknowingly to the crowd, and they bounce ideas off of each other on stage.
“In the moment, anything can be inspiring. It could be a pleather of things at any given time,” T.R.U.T.H. said.
The duo said they love meeting new people and sharing experiences at events like Black-On-Black Rhyme.
“The love afterwards was abundant. Ya’ll was rocking with us,” T.R.U.T.H. said.
Mother Nature said they hope to evoke peace and social change through their music. They said they both plan to make music a lifelong career.
“This (music) is more than just our craft, this is our passion,” T.R.U.T.H. said.
The group said they are involved in the community and the music world, and use music to connect with society by blending the two.
“Influencing the youth and our peers, I think that’s a huge thing for us,” Klevah said. “Once we know that the messages are being received, it just gives us more fuel to keep going.”
The duo said African American Heritage Month is essential because it emphasizes the culture and history.
“Black history is American history, its really no difference,” T.R.U.T.H. said. “The stuff we learn about during Black History Month still affects more than just black people.”
The event also featured poetry readings from Eastern students. Students were encouraged to share original pieces and monologues from other writers with the audience.
Briana Wesley sophomore biological science major, Hillary Fuller, senior communication and creative writing major, Tavia Fuqua, senior sociology major, and Patrick Davis, senior general studies major, were amongst the performers.
Senior psychology and interpersonal communications major Ashley Howard hosted the event. She said she was nervous because it was her first time hosting, but she used that to her advantage.
“They talked about a lot of issues not only that we struggle with on a daily basis, but also black issues that definitely touch home with us,” Howard said. “Not only violence and crime, but also things like self-image and internalized hatred.”
Students recited poems about self-awareness and the violence within the African American community.
“They touched on things that we struggle with as a whole, not only on an individual level. It was definitely an eye-opening experience,” Howard said.
The African American Heritage Month Committee will also be hosting the EIUnity Diversity Conference Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. - The Daily Eastern News

"The Miracle of Mother Nature"

Klevah and T.R.U.T.H debuted their first collaboration EP, Mother Nature at the 2015 Pygmalion Festival last Saturday. I’m certain hip hop’s last 40 years evolved just so this black girl genius hip hop duo could happen. Everything was hardcore and they got the barz right ‘cause they wanted us to live, y’all.

I could say they are both black women, and while that’s true, you gotta unlearn the heteropatriarchy so you don’t take that to mean “less than.” They are so unapologetically taking up all the hip hop space as black women emcees with mean flows and luxocractic lyrics. They are rapping for those of us who cannot take for granted an un-accosted walk down Main Street or an unpoliced ride through the C-U. Freedom is always within reach but we have not felt it that divine in a hip hop space until 9:45 p.m. at the Highdive outdoor stage two. When the blue and red lights lit the sound that awakened love in the name of hip hop by two black women emcees for our benefit, the rap game forever shifted.

The barz began and the music affirmed everything your biggest hip-hop hoop earrings-wearing self been waiting for your whole life. They opened with several songs off the Mother Nature EP, tracks most of us have not yet heard. I’m so excited to be a part of the crowd who can boast we was rocking with them from jump. Those unafraid to “step in,” “raise a fist,” “#Say Her Name,” ready to “take it further” were grooving revolution.

The first released track from the EP, “Afro,” with its flirty fun booming bass line amplified by DJ Legtwo, served as a come hither tune seductively preparing us for the sexiest political education we did not know we needed until Klev and T.R.U.T.H rhymed us better. The title track, “Mother Nature” bumped ridiculously hard and embodied the spirit of the project: hardcore, take no prisoners, heartbreaking, calling all the shots, freeing the fakers and murdering the conditions killing black people. It was a high-energy show for sure, slaying the spectacular violence that produces (insert name) hashtags while also slaughtering slow death, the kind that often and specifically haunts black women and girls.

Because Champaign-Urbana already knows them individually, they gave us two songs from their other concurrent projects. Klevah performed “The Process” from Golden, and T.R.U.T.H performed “Pilot” from E.V.E. They followed up with a two-word hook song: "Michael Jackson." This song gave those of us fans already in the know more of their solo style, but together as the vibrations boast love for their respective muses: Klev’s dad and T.R.U.T.H’s MJ. At this point in the show, the audience was also in love and more than amused, collectively waving our hands, whipping our hair, and bouncing shoulder to shoulder all on different beats because the crowd was that diverse and that unified.

The music was stellar, the vibe was stupid cracked, the love overflowed and the aesthetic was the Panthers meets "Set It Off" black. All of this came together to introduce us to a sound that is yet to come. On stage they told us the festival’s invitation prompted them to collaborate, making new music that did those often overlooked justice. This town is resource-rich when it comes to hip hop and while I wished Klevah and T.R.U.T.H headlined, I’m grateful for the opportunity Pygmalion extended their way. I also fantasized about all the music I would have wanted to experience before their set with such a grand set up the festival afforded, like Cii La’Cole, The Gr8thinkaz, Paradigm Shift, Lazarus, We Levitate (of which I am a part), and so on. In midst of an international audience, alongside talented acts from all over the world, two of the baddest hip hop artists joined forces so we who are black and underground, local yet unknown can remain alive and have a great time at the same time. And for sure, we did.

For those of us who live here, the shade thrown on the cornfields, the assumed backwardness of being ironically centrally located, the presumed (but wrong) lack of a vibrant hip hop cultural scene, the racist and patriarchal excess troubling public space, the nothing to do-ness — all exposed, doused, and transformed. Out of all the major supposed flyest area codes, wasn’t nowhere we would rather be but outside in the 217, rocking the night away with Klevah and T.R.U.T.H The Mother Nature EP deserves global and local attention that I am certain is yet to come, but right now the brilliance is so close it feels like a good, juicy secret.

From the get go they were true to their words; it was all about the women. They tight-sealed the space in perfect barz and perfected lyricism, and the women responded right back with full consent. T.R.U.T.H with the shades and the fresh high-top fade and Klev’s asymmetric curly fro and Gr8thinkaz t-shirt we all wanted to cop, were clearly on some brand new-new we ain’t never before experienced. So while comparisons to previous hip hop duos and groups are expected, they just won’t do and can’t do justice to what we felt. Klevah and T.R.U.T.H stuck us up for all our baggage and jacked us for our excuses about why we can’t participate in the movement to get us moving in the direction of liberation. We did not look back and we did not mind. We rocked out and ain’t stopped. They came out outta nowhere from the future to give what they learned back to us, raw and generous, on that seasonably warm night. Daring us to move closer toward freedom, growing us all uncontrollably stronger, it was all the hip hop and galactic elements, the anguish, the pain, the mercy and the call. Be sure to get the EP, when it drops. After all and in the middle, it happened, a show that made revolution irresistible and my matte red lipstick completely worth it. - Smile Politely

"Mother Nature Plants Seeds in C-U"

The crowd at this year’s Pygmalion Festival was dancing in awe as it laid witness to an explosive hip-hop duo on a Saturday night this past September, and I’m not talking about Run The Jewels. Klevah and T.R.U.T.H, two local rappers who together form Mother Nature put on a performance that was years in the making.

T.R.U.T.H met Klevah when they were both students at the University of Illinois. Klevah introduced herself at a student group meeting for W.O.R.D. (Writers Organizing Realistic Dialect):

“I’m Klevah, and I spit.”

Kindred spirits, as T.R.U.T.H put it: “I knew she gotta be dope.”

Not only was it the beginning of a friendship, but one of musical inspiration and partnership.

“I know struggle very well,” Klevah said. “That goes into my music a lot, and then being able to express that with another woman who shares some of those experiences, but we both do it in a very poetic and beautiful way... it’s very rare and very god given.”

Klevah is from Champaign-Urbana and a U of I alum. T.R.U.T.H is a Chicago native who lives here now is also an alum, and while they were students, both rappers attended classes with Gender and Women’s Studies professor Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown. Brown wrote a review of Mother Nature’s Pygmalion performance, emphasizing the “black girl genius” it flaunted.

Klevah (left) and T.R.U.T.H (right) performing at The Pygmalion Festival 2015.

T.R.U.T.H explained the concept of “black girl genius”: “The bottom line... is just seeing the genius in black girls because for the most part, on the major circuit, when you see a black girl in the media, on TV and stuff like that it’s not portrayed in the best light. It’s looked at negatively, but it’s like, we take ownership of what we do, and we know that it’s genius, regardless of what anybody else has to say about it.”

Klevah said she makes music for herself, and thus her music is made to speak to black girls. It’s a space for that kind of dialogue necessary to sustain this kind of hip-hop music, but both Klevah and T.R.U.T.H have both experienced venues that are not supportive. C-U venues’ relationship with hip-hop has be fraught, but if a space will not support a performance, Mother Nature simply won’t do it. “Hip-hop is gonna piss you off sometimes, hip-hop is going to disrupt,” Klevah said.

With racial tension brewing nationally, both members of Mother Nature have become a part of the Black Lives Matter movement on campus, and rap about social justice in their songs. They keep the vibe upbeat and fun, but according to T.R.U.T.H, when you sit down and listen to the lyrics, you get something more out of it than just a beat.

“I think that that’s the time we’re in right now, people are having revolutionary thought no matter what color you are,” said Klevah. “People are changing the way that they think and changing their perspectives on the world, and so I think that this is kind of like the soundtrack to that.”

Hip hop in C-U is more than just a flash of genius at the town’s biggest music festival. It’s not a novelty addition to a cross-over show at Cowboy Monkey, like tonight’s bill with Bookmobile! and The Fights. It’s a big, diverse group of talent.

“It is a lot of MCs down here but nobody sounds like each other. Nobody like Jarrel Young, Chase Baby, TheGr8Thinkaz, everybody that I really rock with, they so different. Everybody has their own lane. So collaboration is something that you can look forward to,” T.R.U.T.H said. “This, to me, is very foundational. If you can put all your pieces together [in C-U]. When you move on, you will have a solid base.”

With room to grow, an audience that will listen, and space for them to create, C-U is a good home for Mother Nature. The Mother Nature EP will be released sometime next year, possibly in the early spring, with a local release show and other goodies leading up to that. The songs have already been with recorded with engineering and production help from other local artists Larry Gates of Curb Service and Rokmore of TheGr8Thinkaz.

“It’s very hip-hop I feel. We’re very involved in the community,” Klevah said. “We do music here, we go to shows, we create.”

Check out Mother Nature on Bandcamp, as well as T.R.U.T.H and Klevah’s solo work linked above, and hear their genius live tonight at Cowboy Monkey with The Fights and Bookmobile. - Smile Politely

"Mother Nature Makes Waves"

Thursday's show at Cowboy Monkey had a lineup that can only be described as eclectic. It's not often you see alt-country bands open for punk rockers and then succeeded by feminist hip-hop badassery. Yet, somehow Champaign-Urbana's music scene has always been more than the sum of its parts and this show was no exception. Joined by The Fights and Bookmobile, Mother Nature brought a spectacular blast of music to Champaign. - Smile Politely

"Mother Nature featured on Huffington Post"

Mother Nature, the duo of Klevah and T.R.U.T.H, has been on fire the last few months — festival performances, great albums, and headlining club show performances — and they were recently featured by Huffington Post writer Rasheena Fountain.

Fountain's piece, "Mother Nature: Female Hip Hop Duo Empowered to Bring Social Change" features the two artists and is worth the read, talking about the lives and upbringings of both Klevah and T.R.U.T.H, and their goals with the project. - Smile Politely

"Top Live Shows of 2015"


Poundin' the stage, burnin' and cursin' — Run The Jewels, amongst many many others that were a part of this past year's Pygmalion Festival, tore up the stages across Champaign-Urbana for the 11th year of the festival. RTJ, alongside Purity Ring, Mother Nature, made the party go down at the Highdive Outdoor show on Saturday evening, tUnE-yArDs and Patrick Watson put everyone at Krannert Center either momentarily in a trance, or dancing their asses off.


The hype surrounding Mother Nature came to fruition following their electrifying Pygmalion set, just last week. Paired with The Fights (country) and Bookmobile! (punk), the bill was another one of those diverse bills that makes C-U so awesome. Seeing a local hip-hop headliner draw a significant crowd in Downtown Champaign is somewhat of a dream come true for me, and if these ladies keep doing what they're doing, there's no telling where their ceiling could be. - Smile Politely

"Mother Nature's "Afro" Video Highlights Identity"

In late January, I spent the day at Sister Curls hair salon in Champaign photographing the filming of local female hip-hop duo Mother Nature’s music video for their single "Afro" featuring CiCi "Cii La’Cole" Stewart.

Mother Nature is a combination of the talents of local artists Tierney (T.R.U.T.H) Reed and Shasta (Klevah) Knox. Local artist Chris "TwoBrainz" Smith filmed the video and family members, friends and local supporters (such as former Champaign Mayor Don Gerard) packed the salon to show their support and make appearances in the video.

The passion and love for the music and for each other was obvious from the moment I walked in, and the entire day turned into a celebration of self-confidence, individuality, and community. A week later, I got the chance to sit down with the ladies of Mother Nature to reflect on that experience and talk about their inspiration, struggles and successes.

Smile Politely: As far as your process goes, where do you start? When it comes to a song, do you always start in one place?

Tierney Reed: I’d say it definitely starts with the beat, like an instrumental or whatever we use and really it’s just like you feel it. We don’t have too much thought with prewriting. It’s just like let’s listen to the track, “What you feel? What you thinkin’?” and pretty much for the both of us we let the beat speak for itself and let it tell us what we need to speak about, pretty much and it just flows naturally. We don’t do too much criticalness with it, we just let it be.

Tierney Reed, aka T.R.U.T.H

Shasta Knox: With "Afro" it was just like something about the old school vintage feel and the soulfulness it just made me think about hair, I don’t know why. It could have been the environment we were in, she had some products on her shelf and stuff like that. We were just, you know, vibin’ but that was just something I couldn’t get out of my head and then it developed into a hook or a couple words and then that developed into the chorus of the song. I think we did the chorus and the bridge first and then we did the verses.

Shasta Knox, aka Klevah

Reed: Yeah, I think that with all them songs really. Always, the bridge or the chorus, we start with that and then go from there. Because whatever we feel from the beat initially is like “OK we’ll probably talk about this” and then we like “A catchy hook would be like this” and then she’ll say something or I’ll say something and we just start from there and then the verses just write themselves for the most part.

SP: For the process, do you guys do it all together all the time or will you, once you have your hook, do your own thing for one verse and you do yours for another?

Knox: It works both ways.

Reed: For the majority of the EP we did it together. There was certain songs like we came up with the hook or the bridge or something and I’d record something and send it to her, “Hey what do you think about this?” but it’s always collaborative whether we’re together, or in one space together, it’s always collaborative. But verse-wise it’s like she do her thing, I do my thing. I trust her, I know she ain’t gonna me no whack shit and I ain’t gonna give her none.

Knox: I think both have different results too, still great results but like when we’re together, I think it makes things more exciting. It transforms and becomes something within that space but when we’re apart it’s still cool because it’s like we come with two different perspectives. We’re on two totally different sounds but they still sound good together.

Reed: It’s a blessing, because it could definitely go left real fast.

Knox: It works both ways.

SP: At what point did CiCi (Cii La’Cole) come into this?

Knox: I mean CiCi was always the person we have in mind.

Reed: Yeah, when we need some melodic singing type of stuff, let’s go holler at CiCi.

Knox: We both have worked with her before and I’ve known CiCi for some years now and she blessed my last project. Did she do something on your last project?

CiCi "Cii La’Cole" Stewart

Reed: She was on my first project, Luxocracy, so I’ve been rocking with CiCi for a minute. She didn’t do nothing on Eve but she’s doing something on this latest project I’ve got, Millennium Protest Music.

Knox: She’s like the go to in terms of adding some herbs and spices as we say, or writing, her writing is really really incredible. She's like minded and even though she’s kind of shy about it sometimes she executes every time beyond our expectations.

Reed: Effortlessly. We was just in the studio listening to her, looking at each other mouth open like “What is happening right now?”. (CiCi) “Do you want me to keep going?” (T.R.U.T.H) “Yes, just do all of it!”. We just asked her to do her thing, not really too much direction. Just tell her what verse we want her to hop on or the chorus and she just did her thing.

Knox: Usually very in the moment, improv kind of thing.

SP: Your verses are both pretty different. They’re personal but there’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of symbolism and deeper meaning. Individually for your own verse, where did you draw inspiration specifically for your verse?

Knox: With the whole topic of hair and afros and being your most natural or going outside of yo natural self and sill being able to adapt to different styles and stuff like that. I mean it made me think a lot about identity and just, you know, how you see yourself. And that’s pretty much what I talked about was my identity. It’s kind of flirtatious in a way, you know its like talking to, it could be a girl or a boy, but just talking to someone and making them feel comfortable about themselves and who they are and just alluding to different ideas about identity. I’m trying to remember my words.

Reed: I’m trying to pull up mine now. What exactly did we say? With me it was like what we came up with is just two verses to a song but what people got from it is like “Oh you took that?”. It’s different. I’m just rapping about stuff on my dresser to be honest.

Knox: With this verse that I had wrote, I did a Drake voice on it. I don’t normally sound like that on most records, so that was something that was different. That’s the sound I chose for that record because it fit, it seemed it worked well. It was playful in a way, playful and flirtatious. I wouldn’t even say, yeah I went in to it with a lot of thought but it definitely is about identity.

SP: If you think you could say the biggest theme of this song, would you say identity?

Reed: Yeah, black women identity to be more specific but it’d be identity in general.

SP: When did you actually start writing this song?

Knox: You got the date on there?

Reed: December 6th, 2015.

Knox: That wouldn’t have been right. December 6th, 20…

Reed: Nah nah nah, that’s when it modified. It was before Pygmalion.

Knox: Before Pygmalion so it would’ve been like October.

Reed: Early October, late September.

SP: So it was a pretty quick turnaround?

Knox: Very quick, yeah, the whole project…

Reed: Like a week, like a week or two.

Knox: The whole project.

SP: When did you say “This needs a video!” and what made this want to be you guys’ first video?

Knox: This was actually, was this the first single that we dropped?

Reed: Yeah.

Knox: This was, yeah, so this was the first single that we dropped. It was a song that we just felt..

Reed: ...grabbed the most people.

Knox: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Reed: It identified us as a group, it was just like OK…

Knox: This is what we can make together, like “Whoa!”. So I think it was just one of the strongest songs that we had. Even in the moment of us writing and coming up with it we was like…

Reed: Like, “this one!”, like “Yeah!”…

Knox: “This is the one!” and there was still other stuff that followed after that but that really elevated us in spirit I would say, so it was just the perfect song to make a video to.

Reed: It was a real song too. That was another thing, I don’t think either one of us actually have written like that if at all. It was just like man it’s got a bridge, got a hook, got a this, got a that and I know it’s long, it’s like six minutes! And people really like listening to all of this, with people voting to put it on the radio.

Knox: Yeah, we got some radio play on 105.

Reed: We like yeah we gotta go ahead and make a visual for this. Just cap it off all together.

Knox: That was another big thing with it being on the radio random people would be hitting me up like “Yeah I heard you on the radio” and that a really cool feelin’ because it was playing in the middle of other stuff that you hear all the time…

Reed: Established stuff…

Knox: Yeah, established stuff. It was a strategic move but also it’s what felt right and with my cousin, we originally wanted to do the video in a beauty supply store because the setting was there, it’d have been real nice. But then I got to thinking about my cousin’s shop (Sister Curls) and I’m like “That would be the perfect set.” and I hit her up and she was totally game for it. Just everything, as in Mother Nature does, it just comes together very nicely.

Reed: God works wonders man.

SP: When did Chris "TwoBrainz" become involved? Have you worked with him before?

Knox: Yeah, yeah, I’ve been working with Chris, I would say he is my videographer. I’ve worked with another guy from my group, FlyShotzFresh, does some of my stuff, but Chris has done most of my stuff since The W8 which was my first project that I released. We’ve bonded pretty tight, I’m excited to see how this is gonna come out because every video that chips and i do together ends up being so much better than i imagine because he puts his own creativity into it so I’m excited to see it. This was her (T.R.U.T.H’s) first video, so big difference and I think it’s gonna be the best of the best.

Chris "TwoBrainz" Smith

SP: Do you remember the first time you heard yourself on the radio?

Knox: Yes I do, yes I do. Yeah you (T.R.U.T.H) hadn’t heard it on the radio had you? Yeah, it was crazy, I was riding with Sky (cousin) I think and I was on the phone and then I heard it, like the radio was turned down low but I heard the bass guitar, the doo doo doo, and I’m like “Wait a minute!” And I just jammed out, I jammed out for six minutes, they played the whole song, it was great. And I mean I heard it a couple times after that but that first moment was definitely awesome. I hung up the phone, wasn’t having any conversation or nothin’, I just enjoyed the moment.

SP: Are you surprised at how much community support you’ve gotten? I’ve seen so many different people, in the small time I’ve spent with you, from all walks of life, and I think that that says a lot about your music in general, but were you surprised by that at all?

Knox: I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, it’s kind of what has been happenin’, it’s what I’ve been working for. And then bringing Mother Nature, you know me having my fans already and then T.R.U.T.H having her fans and a lot of those are mutual but for us to bring these forces together it just creates even more of a network for us. So I wouldn’t say I’m surprised but I’m very grateful, very grateful.

Reed: I was very surprised, very surprised. I don’t know, it’s like the realist in me slash the pessimist in me where its just like, is people really gonna show up like they say they gonna do? Cuz there’s been so many instances where people fall through and it’s just like, you know, just put it on the table and see what happens. I was surprised but definitely very grateful and it’s like it doesn’t happen just by chance, it ain’t like ain’t been at it doin’ our solo stuff, collectively in our own groups and stuff like that as well so it’s like it’s only natural that it would come together even more with us being the forefront of the scene and now coming together. But it was definitely a surprise and definitely by the grace of God that it happened.

Knox: Yeah, I guess I didn’t really expect so many people to come through and be as prompt as they were and to be so active and engaged. It was a really good feel, I like when people come together and just have a good time, be in the moment, don’t complain about stuff. It was good, just to have everybody on the scene, energy.

Former Champaign Mayor Don Gerard

Reed: And then we can’t forget about Brittany (Darling) because she’s the one that handled all the majority of getting people there and making sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, clothing, all that different type of stuff. So it was really more laid back, and I’m sure for all of your (Klevah’s) videos in the past it prolly wasn’t this easy going, you know.

Knox: Right, right. Yeah because now we starting to work more collectively too. In the past it’s mostly been, do your own shit, like I’m planning everything. Chris may be planning some stuff but for the most part it’s all on me and I’m sure it’s the same experience for you (T.R.U.T.H). Even with our individual groups, the great thing, because in PS you still carry your own weight for the most part but now that we’ve come together and we know who our supportive base is here in Champaign-Urbana and with those people anything can be accomplished.

Reed: Everybody’s always willing to lend a hand or give us space or come out, all of that type of stuff and that’s definitely something we’re grateful for as well.

SP: On the flip side of that then, you’re making a name for yourselves, you’re getting known, you hear yourself on the radio which is really cool but you’ve obviously gone through some tough times to get here. What got you through those times to here?

Reed: The music, the music man. That’s one thing, for me even going all the way back to my first project and stuff, that wasn’t supposed to happen because everybody that was supposed to help me during that time fell through. People tell me, “Oh you come here record this, I’ll do this, I’ll do that,” fell through, “I’ll give you beats,” fell through. So for me, I don’t really care about gettin’ known or nothin’ like that, I just want to make music and put it out there for whoever want to indulge in it, they can indulge in it, but it is what it is. But it’s like the music is what always kept me going, since I was a shorty and I’m going through stuff, I write. I wrote freestyle, I do this, I do that, so its like at the end of the day, music, that’s the baseline. So all the bull and the BS and the politics and stuff that come along with it, you can move that all away to the side because when I first started doing this it was all for the love. So if I keep that foundation, that base, that’s it. That’s always what pushed me, just the music, just keeping going through the bull.

Knox: What she said. - Smile Politely

"New Video: Hip Hop Group Mother Nature Pushes Status Quo with ‘MVMNT’"

When I first interviewed Mother Nature in a coffee shop in Champaign, Illinois in late 2015, Klevah and T.R.U.T.H were in the early days of the formation of the hip hop duo. Their caustic, intellectual, gritty, and soulful vibes became contagious— igniting what has become a movement of social justice mixed with black self-love and female empowerment - The Huffington Post

"Mother Nature takes Chicago rap on a world tour"

Mother Nature is more than just a force of nature. Contemplative, thoughtful and full of noble spirit, this Chicago-based rap duo — comprised of Klevah Knox (Shasta Mathews) and T.R.U.T.H (Tierney Reed​) — has quickly gained a loyal following. But it’s not just Chicagoans taking notice. In a time where hip-hop has firmly ascended to the rank of the most dominant and popular genre of music, artists like Mother Nature have gained widespread recognition on a national and even international scale. - Chicago Tribune


Still working on that hot first release.



Mother Nature is the powerful and undeniable energy of emcees Klevah and T.R.U.T.H.  Never afraid to speak on societal ills, these creatives masterfully weave political rhetoric into music that you can party to. The Chicago-based emcees fuse hard-hitting HipHop, melodic rhythms and boundless lyricism to raise the frequency of our collective conscience. Well on their way, Mother Nature is a dynamic force of Black womanhood. Their mission is to be a fearless force in HipHop through peace and love.

Band Members