Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN welcome rapper Nature to the show. Raised in Queensbridge, he caught his big break as a part of the rap supergroup The Firm alongside Nas, Foxy Brown, and AZ. Following the group’s disbandment, Nature strengthened his buzz through guest appearances, most notably Noreaga’s “Banned from T.V.,” which is remembered as one of the greatest posse cuts, not only of its era, but all-time. Following a litany of standout mixtape appearances, Nature’s debut solo album, For All Seasons, was highly anticipated, but various false-starts and leaks would cause the album to perform below expectations, peaking at No. 50 on the Billboard 200 and failing to capitalize on his prior momentum. Returning in 2002 with his independently released sophomore effort, Wild Gremlinz, Nature continued to record and release music including several EP’s mixtapes and solo albums, and is remembered by many as one of the most exciting lyricists of the late ‘90s and early aughts.
To help give fans a recap of the episode, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from Nature’s “Drink Champs” episode. Take a look at them below.
1. Nature On He Beginnings As A Rapper
When asked of his origins as a rapper, Nature credits his household, where his experimentation with his father’s record collection helped spark his love affair with the craft. “I started rhyming since [I was] a kid, man,” the rapper recalls. “I was a dude that just loved every record and I would just, like, change the words of the records. Like, make my own record, make my own little version. In my house, we had record players, they weren’t turntables. I was treating ‘em like turntables ‘cause my pops had a lot of records at the time. I would mess up a lot of needles and shit like that and blame it on my brothers. I loved the blends. So, rap was, like, real easy to me.”
2. Nature On Growing Up Around Rap Royalty
Hailing from Queensbridge, the stomping ground of various members of the legendary Juice Crew, bumping into the biggest rap artists in the game along his daily travels was routine and helped confirm his dreams of stardom as a tangible possibility. “When we came up, Marley Marl was the dude, and DJ Hot Day,” he explains. “Hot Day was a dude, he bring the speakers out. When he bring the speakers out, everybody start coming around and it becomes the party. We used to use the park, Queensbridge was across the street from this big park, so it used to be nothing to come outside and see the MC Shans [and] the Juice Crew. The Juice was them niggas, right, so we’d be like, ‘Kool G Rap,’ all these niggas [was] outside. These dudes walking around with big rope chains, like, Big Daddy Kane and all of these niggas was outside. We’re going to the store like, ‘Holy shit!’”
3. Nature On Being Influenced By Local Park Jams
During hip hop’s formative years, the local park jam was the preeminent spectacle, where practitioners of the artform showcased their talents. Nature himself looks back at those events in a nostalgic manner and holds them near to his heart, as they helped mold him into the emcee and performer that he would eventually become. “We used to have these jams in the park, River Park,” the For All Seasons creator recalls. “So at any given time, there were performing some shit right in front of me. It was the MC Shans, the Crag Gs, the Roxanne Shantes. I’m a young dude, they’re all older than me, but I was a dude that was watching the shows in the park from the tree branch, no exaggeration. I know that if I’m too short to stand right here and they’re just gonna move me out the way and shit like that, and I know if I move from this tree branch, I’m not gonna see the show. But I’m watching hip hop live from the beginning.”
4. Nature On His Introduction To N.O.R.E.
Having run in the same circles and collaborated on numerous occasions during the early years in their respective careers, Nature and N.O.R.E.’s stories are somewhat intertwined, which both artists acknowledge during the former’s appearance on the “Drink Champs.” Nature shares how he first became aware of N.O.R.E. and the enigmatic buzz he had surrounding him in the midst of his rise to fame. “I always heard about this guy, but I was never around this guy right here, but I knew Capone ‘cause Capone was from Queensbridge. So, in the middle of me getting locked up and doing dumb shit, these guys happen to shoot a video on the roof of my building, the ‘L.A., L.A.’ video was shot on the roof of my building. So, I see these guys out there and all that, but I still didn’t meet him, he was still this guy that had this awkward style, nobody didn’t knew. They thought his name was Jose Luis, I didn’t know who he was.”
5. Nature On The Origins of His Beef With Cormega
After infamously replacing Cormega as the fourth addition to the rap supergroup The Firm, Nature and his newfound rival bumped heads lyrically, with Nature going on the offensive and slighting Cormega on wax. However, according to him, the situation stemmed from misinformation, on his part, and attributes it to pressure from higher ups in The Firm’s hierarchy. “I know that I was going out of town,” Nature says of the origins of the feud. “I heard, ‘Yo, this guy’s talking about you, he said such and such,’ they told me some bullshit or whatever. They made me feel like I was in competition for this, the powers that be, so I hear this shit, I’m tight as a motherfucker. We go to the studio, we got everybody in there, Clue, Mary, everybody in there and I just decided to use this record right here to start some bullshit. I didn’t know I was starting some bullshit.”
6. Nature On The Time He Lived With 50 Cent
One of the highlights of Nature’s career occurred during his time spent recording in the Bearsville, where he shared a roof with future superstar 50 Cent prior to the now-infamous attempt on his life. “I never seen no shit like this,” the rapper says of the opulence of the creative hub. “Like I said, I’m still counting the places I’m going, I’m still new, fairly. I’m still hood, I’m still rough around the edges and they designed it to where we could go to the studio in the woods. You can’t leave, there’s no stores, anything you need is catered to you, and it’s me, N.O.R.E., 50 Cent. Me and 50 Cent is splitting the house, half the house is 50, half the house is me.”
7. Nature On Why He Believed The Firm Didn’t Meet Expectations
Comprised of three star rap artists and one of the most hyped newcomers on the scene, The Firm was expected to account for millions of records sold and a classic album that would stack up well alongside the greatest of all time. Unfortunately, despite being certified platinum and producing classic singles and deep cuts, The Firm was deemed a disappointment and disbanded shortly after. According to Nature, the failure of the group had as much to do with industry politics stifling him and the group-mates’ creativity and ability to promote the album. “In my opinion, The Firm shit was contractually set up to kinda like crash,” he begins. “‘Cause everybody was on different labels when shit reached its peak and they decided to put the album out on Interscope Records when nobody was on Interscope Records. So, their labels said, ‘Hell no, you’re not gonna deliver an album and give it to this label that’s not us and make money for us. Here’s your stipulation: You can only be on a certain amount of records. You can only probably be on three records.’ So, if you listen to the album, the person that’s not signed filled in all the void, which happened to be me, so the outside people looked at it as if it was my album. From the way that it was labeled, you couldn’t say it’s The Firm, you’d have to say, ‘It’s Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown presents The Firm.”
8. Agallah On Being Childhood Friends With Sean Price
Agallah’s affiliation with The Diplomats and Sheist Bubz’s Purple City collective may have given casual fans the impression that he’s from Harlem, however, the veteran emcee and producer makes it clear that his roots can be traced back to the County of Kings during his cameo on the “Drink Champs.” He also reveals his longtime friendship with Sean Price, whom he grew up with as a youth. “I’m from Brownsville, I grew up with Sean Price,” the artist formerly known as 8-Off reveals. “We were kids, we played in the sandbox. That’s how I met him, we traded Coleco[Vision] cartridges when you were a kid. It was a dream to have a Colecovision and I didn’t have all the cartridges. So, I used to, like, trade with the homies, like, ‘Yo, I’ll lend you this for a night, you lend me that.’”
9. Agallah On His Appearance On the “Grand Theft Auto III” Soundtrack
Hip hop and gaming have intersected on countless instances, with various video games producers soundtracks that prominently feature rap artists, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise among them. Agallah speaks on “Rising to the Top,” his collaboration with Sean Price, and it becoming one of his biggest hits due to the widespread success of the game itself. “Well, I moved to the Bronx. I had a crib up there with my little studio and that’s when I was working with Sean Price. I had this little deal... This is when I was becoming Agallah, you know you gotta reinvent yourself in this business. I was going through a reinvention stage, and then me and Sean started doing these little songs together. He asked me to get him some beats, we started collaborating and next thing you know, he put out Monkey Barz, and one song on there, it was called ‘Rising to the Top.’ That song was on ‘Grand Theft Auto III,’ which sold over 17 million copies.”