I started 2023 off with a goal of expanding my music taste a little bit (though we all know Spotify will say my top genre for the year is pop). In the process, I have discovered what I call “chill hop.” It’s rap music with meaningful lyrics, a poetic sound, and isn’t aggressively IN YOUR FACE.
Low and behold, Nate Traveller.
After listening to 80purppp, who was highly recommended by Mai Pham, I continued listening to the radio station Spotify created based on the artist. The song to play after “Hex” by 80purppp was “FELT” by Nate Traveller, and I fell in love (with his music, of course).
Nate Traveller has a beautiful, though small (compared to others), discography. Out of the songs he’s gifted to the world, there are three songs I’ve had on repeat for the past several weeks.
The first time I heard this song, I cried. Like, full stop.
I was doing some mundane task, like cleaning the house, when I started to pay attention to the lyrics and stopped. Nate’s lyrics hit me in the gut from the beginning:
It’s like I’m
So sick that I caught myself
Running from my purpose alone, was a call for help
When nobody picked the phone up I had to feel how I felt
In the moment I was broken but realness always prevails
The lyrics say it all, and they flow beautifully with the production. I haven’t done any sort of deep dive into who produces Nate’s tracks or helps write or anything of the sort. I just know music that makes me feel seen and heard, which is exactly what Nate’s music does for me.
After an especially long day at work, the chorus of “FELT” makes me feel validated and immediately opens the floodgates:
Long day, it’s okay to cry
One way I’ma take the ride
Let it feel, I been wakin’ up
Long day, it’s okay to cry
Face fears, man I’ve had enough
Let it rain, let it flood the nile, yeah
*The lyrics for this section were provided by Genius.
Considering I could not find any lyrics for this song on the internet, I believe “FELT” is his most popular song from his Born Erased album. Since I listen to this song at least twelve times a week, these are lyrics from the chorus I think I know from memory.
I can’t hide these emotions
My heart is wide open
Left a notice
It smell like roses
Upon initial listen, I thought this song was about a relationship. However, I quickly realized it’s about the water that takes up 70% of this planet and how destroyed it is. Now, there is a possibility the use of the ocean is a metaphor for a romantic relationship, but hearing about corpses and other things found in the water in the first verse, I believe it’s a note on part of our current climate crisis. With this song featuring Big Samir, another artist who is incredibly new-to-me, it was nice hearing about the state of our water in a rap/chill hop song.
I also strongly appreciate the production and backing vocals making it sound like we are underwater. It really drives home the point that this is about our ecosystem.
Again, this is based on the ears of Jamilah.
This song is a bit different from the past two and starts with beautiful strings (maybe an acoustic guitar? I don’t know the intricacies of music so…). With Nate being a smaller artist and this song being released this year, it was a bit challenging for me to find the correct lyrics anywhere. I don’t even have the confidence to type the lyrics I think I hear (like I did with the previous song).
Based on the album art and the contents of the lyrics, I think this song is dedicated to a loved one, or several loved ones, who is/are no longer with us on this planet. Like, it sounds like a way for Nate to accept they’re no longer on this planet, and they’re no longer suffering.
For me, “Somewhere Safe” is validation. I wasn’t doubting my decision to shift from an environment I’d known for twenty-three years, but I needed to be reminded that it’s okay. I am so quick to question the intentions of everything and everyone around me, and on days when my anxiety is almost unbearable, this song aids in calming me down. Taking it literally, it reminds me that I am in a much safer space, where I can relax my shoulders, obtain peace, and breathe without worry.
Again, this song opened the floodgates when he released it earlier this year, right around when I started taking a deep dive into the beautiful, creative mind of Nate Traveller.
Considering I couldn’t find any lyrics for “Cleanthewater” and “Somewhere Safe,” I think it’s okay to say Nate Traveller is still new to the music game. He’s definitely an artist to look out for and pay close attention to. His genius mind is going to blow up the industry (in a good way) within the next few years. I’m calling it.
Stream Nate’s 2022 album Born Erased wherever you listen to music. You won’t regret it.