What is your name?
Give us a little bio about you.
I live and work in New York City, cultivating a didactic approach to hip-hop — much of my work uses rap to explore and educate about various philosophical, scientific and ecological topics (see youtube.com/nathanology). This draws on my background as an academic (I have a PhD in Classics, and until recently taught at City College of New York.) I’m also one half of an eco-rap duo called Nate and Hila — our most recent single “Compost” celebrates community compositing in NYC. In all my work, the through-line is this: Hip-hop is a modern manifestation of something very ancient — oral poetry is humanity’s oldest mode of cultural communication — so let’s keep it up! Let’s express our deepest philosophical thoughts, and our most urgent political ideas, in exactly that mode. Education and entertainment, politics and performativity — these things are ultimately inseparable.
What made you go into music?
My passion for lyricism first drew me to the simplicity and poetic expansiveness of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and others, and from there oscillated to hip-hop and emceeing, where the lyrical possibilities are truly limitless.
Who are your influences?
Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Public Enemy, MF DOOM, Homeboy Sandman.
You recently signed with Lights and Lines, how did that come about?
Mike found my tunes on the internet, and right from our first meeting I felt an artistic kinship with him — it seems we both aim to cultivate the qualitative side of independent music over the quantitative, and are driven by a desire to connect intimately, rather than superficially, with listeners.
What drew you to signing with Lights and Lines?
I love that the label seems to be organized not so much around a genre, as around a philosophy — one that centers on the value of long-form, nuanced encounters with music, and the craft of songwriting.
Tell us more about your latest release and the writing/recording process .
My upcoming release with Lights and Lines compiles two EP’s — Nathanologies Vol.’s 1 and 2 — into a full-length album. While a lot of my material is educational in nature — songs about philosophy, science, etc. — this album by contrast provides a space for a more inward journey, and a more freewheeling approach to lyricism,
What else can we expect in 2021?
I’ve received a grant from the Verses Project to create a collection of songs and videos on the History of Philosophy — a sort of rap encyclopaedia of human thought! These are going to be appearing over the course of the year and beyond — one of the first instalments, on Stoicism, got released at the beginning of the summer.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
I see myself with a TV show of some kind — likely a “Nate and Hila” show with my collaborator Hila the Killa — synthesizing music, comedy, ecology and education. A sort of Sesame Street for adults, with lots of rhymes, laughs and depth. I also see having a few books under my belt, the out flowerings of the ideas I’ve been working on lately. In general, I see myself as a public figure with considerable reach and connectivity, using verbal artistry and performance to chart out the intersection between philosophy, mental health and politics.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
Rakim: “It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
– Roland SP-404sx Sampler
– Extra mic (you never know how schlocky their gear may be!)
– Goof Camo (multi-color jumpsuit I perform in)
– A lucky necklace I don’t even wear but keep in my gig bag
– Simultaneous passionate devotion and healthy detachment