Natty NationHometown: Madison, Wisconsin
Demetrius Wainright of Madcity's Natty Nation
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Critically-acclaimed reggae outfit Natty Nation is a collective of spiritual warriors. For twenty years, the Madison, Wisconsin-based group has purely and fearlessly followed its inner artistic continuum. Now, Natty Nation issues its brightest beacon, Divine Spark (iNatty Records), out March 11th.
Natty Nation’s unique pedigree of a Midwest home base and artistic openness has helped the posse foster a signature sound. The group describes themselves as hard roots rock reggae & dub because in addition to their honest and authentic roots reggae foundation, their embrace of soul, rock, and funk is undeniable. Natty Nation is also influenced by such diverse geniuses as Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Living Colour, Earth Wind and Fire, Fishbone, and Bad Brains. Currently, Natty Nation is led by JAH Boogie – bass & lead vocals (also percussion & drums in the studio), and musical director Aaron Konkol – keyboards, vocals, & melodica. "The collective also features mainstays Richard Hildner – guitar, and Olen Franklin – drums, as well as frequent players Shonn Hinton (Mary J. Blige, John Legend) – guitar, Mike Daum (Particle) – guitar, Francisco Martinez – percussion and vocals, & Harjinder Singh (Lilla, Fatbook) – guitar and vocals.
Divine Spark is a lightning bolt of an inspirational album artistically and introspectively. JAH Boogie explains: “The Divine Spark is the higher self within everyone. I've learned that through raising your vibration, and opening your chakras, you are able to tap into your divine spark.” Artistically it’s a watershed album as its was carefully crafted by the creative core of founding member JAH Boogie, and longtime member Aaron Konkol, who is a multi-instrumentalist and prodigious musical talent. The two shared in music writing responsibilities while JAH Boogie retained lyric duties.
Highlights on Divine Spark include the title track, “Meditation,” “Civil Rights,” and “Prophecy.” The album’s spiritual core is the simmering and soulful title track. “This song deals with the spiritual essence of each human being,” JAH Boogie explains. “The song also expresses that when you open your heart chakra it helps to open up the many other chakras within the spiritual body. When these energy centers or chakras are open then many other dimensions are open as well.” “Meditation” aptly conjures its name with sweetly languid grooves. Soul rebel militancy bubbles over with the aptly titled, “Civil Rights” courtesy of F. Stokes’s fiery rhymes. And the rousing “Prophecy” is sure to inspire self-reflection. “This song deals with going within yourself to find out who you really are or what you really are. We all have spiritual guides or angels who reveal certain things to us,” explains JAH Boogie.
Divine Spark was mixed by legendary Bob Marley recording engineer Errol Brown (Rebelution, Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, among others). Errol mixed the album in his makeshift studio he built in the back of Rebelution's tour bus. He worked closely with Aaron Konkol’s feedback and the two came up with a majestic mix. Divine Spark marks the beginning of an era of fevered creativity and watershed output for Natty Nation.