Nattali Rize, Reggae’s Rising Rebel Star
There are two kinds of musicians: those who see their music as an end in itself, and those who see their music as a vehicle for higher achievements.
Natalie Pa’apa’a, known as Nattali Rize, is the latter. The Australian-born, Jamaican-living co-founder of epic urban roots collective Blue King Brown has gone full-on solo, and her first full-length album Rebel Frequency, released in March 2017, makes her intentions (“Music’s the healer, she’s the healer”) crystal clear.
Reggae has been about more than just catchy tunes since before Bob Marley became a worldwide symbol for peace, unity, and “One Love.” For Nattali Rize, the music and the message are always one in the same. “I don’t really separate them [music, performance, and activism],” says Rize. “It’s all encompassing. People are really, more than ever, ready and willing to hear and feel the messages that we have in the music and that level of consciousness that we’re trying to help create and perpetuate. Music is our gift, and we just use that to do the greatest good that we can.”
The rising Reggae star moved from Australia to Jamaica in 2014. Placing herself squarely in her music’s heritage and homeland, she began producing Rebel Frequency. As she tells Rawckus, “That kind of set me off on a pathway of connecting with and meeting with so many incredible artists and musicians in Kingston. It’s just such a thriving, supportive community of creative people. The outcome is a collection of work that really represent where I’m at in this point in my evolution as a musician, song writer, vocalist, and human.”
Rebel Frequency features a slew of musical heavyweights and underground stars, including Notis Heavyweightrockaz (Kingston-based drum & bass duo), Dre Island, Jah9, Raging Fyah, and even Julian Marley, Bob Marley’s son, who is featured in both the song and video for “Natty Rides Again.”
I think collaboration is a fundamental part of life, and I feel like it is absolutely an important foundation for the future.
While the tracks on Rebel Frequency are distinctly her own, the many featured artists speak to both Rize’s deep connections within the Jamaican music scene as well as the fact that collaboration is an inherent and necessary part of her movement. “I think collaboration is a fundamental part of life, and I feel like it is absolutely an important foundation for the future. When you make music…and you’re able to share that experience with other people, that builds strong relationships. Strong relationships build strong communities, and strong communities build strong nations.”
Her fans seem to agree, and since January she’s been on a world tour, which continues through September. The travel has also taught her more about what collective freedom and consciousness is about. “I think we’re in a really special time in the history of the world. Consciousness is on the rise. It really comes about through ending this deep connection to a world system that has us basically in chains – emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. [People] are tuning into these things…and instead of putting our energy into trying to fix these outdated systems, we’re putting our energy into just creating new ones that actually serve people.”
Like most artists, Rize is always thinking about her next project. Aside from a packed world tour, she’s also working on some more videos for this album. She’s also looking forward to the rest of her shows, particularly those with Michael Franti & Spearhead, whom she considers a big inspiration, in early and mid-June, as well as a handful of shows with The John Butler Trio, an Australian roots and jam band, in September.