All Natural


To those in the business of hip hop, the team of All Natural (Tone b. Nimble and capital D), isn't a new alliance. Separately, the two gained a reputation as b-boys in the early 90's. Tone's proficiency came in the way of his turntable skills and ability to create beats, while capital D was known as a wordsmith whose writing talents were as impressive as his delivery. They hooked up to combine their skills and, in the words of Positive K, formed a "good combination." In the mid 90's All Natural, hooked up with Wild Pitch Records. At the time, Wild Pitch was a well respected rap label, home to some of hip hop's leading acts including Main Source, The Coup, Ultramagnetic M.C.'s and Lord Finesse. What All Natural didn't know was that Wild Pitch was on the verge of losing its distribution and backing. Shortly before All Natural's debut was due to drop, Wild Pitch closed their doors and left them without a label. The experience was enough to prompt the All Natural pair to start their own label, All Natural Inc.. "50 Years," their debut single, became a huge success. It was called by Trace magazine "one of the most beautiful hip hop cuts of 1997," and stands strongly as one of the label's best selling records. Refusing to rest on their laurels, the band upped the ante and released 2 more 12" singles, "Phantoms of the Opera" and "It's O.K." before issuing their full-length debut, No Additives, No Preservatives. Accompanied by the book Fresh Air, No Additives, No Preservatives became a huge underground success . The innovative book has lyrics, political and social essays, and drawings created by capital D. Sales for the label and their titles are now well over 50,000 records, however more important has been the growth of the Family Tree. The Family Tree is an aptly named collective of Chicago artists dedicated to independent music-making. The crew all release records and 12"s on All Natural's label, and although their delivery styles are widely varied, they are all commonly bound by a commitment to independence, artistic freedom, and control. Self proclaimed non-conformist, All Natural run their label as a cooperative with the artists paying a 50% profit share. The decision to split Second Nature between Fat Beats (LP) and Thrill Jockey (CD0 further demonstrates their non conformist approach. Although Thrill Jockey has distributed all the band’s records, they have never released a hip hop LP. All Natural have combined the hip hop distribution power of Fat Beats with Thrill Jockey’s commitment to artistic freedom into a release that is tailored to the music and the group’s philosophy. Second Nature is the band's second full-length recording and shows no sign of the dreaded "sophomore jinx." In fact, the band comes off more as seniors than as sophomores. Their old-school vibe employs as much of 1988 as it does 2001, as is apparent by their beats, rhymes and scratches. As on No Additives, No Preservatives, Second Nature maintains the fundamental principals of hip-hop with insight, smooth deliveries and a deep array of sounds and samples, but also builds on the blocks already in place from their first record. Second Nature moves beyond the average underground b-boy thoughts of battling and freestyling and takes the band to the next level. The beats are as varied as the delivery of capital D and guests such as Slug (of Atmosphere), J.U.I.C.E. and the Lone Catalysts. Their very personal style can be playful or thought-provoking, but is always Chicago flavored. The album is appropriately titled, because making classics is "second nature" to All Natural.