In 2017, A-natural embarked on a journey of musical self-discovery. Several years removed from his position within former music company BlockStars Production Studios, A-natural took some time to gather his life and figure out his next steps toward adult independence. He put his music on the backburner and focused on “adulting" getting a day job working for an audiobook company and moving into his very first apartment. During this time, he continued to collaborate with other artists finding some success with his participation on R&B singer and actor Mack Wilds’ album After Hours among other indie projects across the country.
Realizing that the music was still ever-present even while working his 9-5, he made his first official step into the R&B world with a suitable project entitled The Chronicles of an Over-Ambitious Fat-Boy. This album would be the catalyst that not only caused others to truly take notice of him as the artist he’s always looked to be, but also created some controversy with those who were used to him playing the background. He would then have a decision to make: would he continue on this path of solo artistry, or go back to the boards and continue working on other artist’s projects?
A-natural has always worn many hats: singer, songwriter, producer, engineer, vocal producer, manager, graphic designer, etc. But any time he’s ever tried to just wear one successfully, there was always another longing to be added to the ensemble. Approaching his mid-30s in the summer of 2018, he began to question his future. Would it be full of wistful musical hopes and dreams, or should he continue to focus on his livelihood and just work his day job? These existential questions birthed a small collection of songs that would continue his ambitious streak in the form of #COAOAFB2. Five songs with extremely candid conversational interludes in between, this “companion” EP would set A-natural up to gain the answers to the questions he’d been asking. #COAOAFB2 would go on to win two Independent Music Awards for Best Urban EP as well as Best R&B Single for “Thirst”. The project would also land him a rare opportunity to open for Grammy Award winning artist T-Pain for a major festival date in Connecticut. Ambition was no longer the tactic but a sign of confirmation that A-natural was on the right path.
Now, A-natural has compiled a new collection of music inspired not just by ambition, but now the acceptance of his place in the independent music industry. Over a year in the making, and involving some of the biggest and brightest names in music production, his new full-length project, The Ascension of A-natural explores a more confident A-natural, one who is ready to compete, win, and stay in the music game. Leading with the first official single, “Down Like Forever”, we see a newer, slicker A-natural, who is clearly more confident, clever, inclusive (this is the first time A-natural has released a project not fully produced by himself), and calculated. “Down Like Forever” is just the first of several songs that incorporate high-quality visuals pre-album release, a move he’s wanted to make ever since being creatively inspired by Beyoncé’s 2013 surprise self-titled album.
The Ascension of A-natural delves into categories that, while familiar to his listeners, take new turns in execution. This album is sexier, more experimental, and definitely pushes boundaries more than his previous offerings. A-natural covers the subjects of love, confusion, musical legacy, and even aliens while continuing to give listeners the vocals they’ve come to know and love from his repertoire. He took his time with this project, making sure that not only were his vocals pristine, but that overall, the musical direction of the album would stand the test of time, especially in an over-saturated and oft times confusing world of current R&B. Before completing the album, he consulted with long-time collaborators Thomas & Kurvan Rankin of TrakFire Productions to make sure that the mark was hit; a standard that he has attributed to TrakFire’s late third partner Jonathan “Jerz” Boyd, who A-natural has always credited with being his muse when creating. For this project, A-natural refused to wrap up without obtaining the production house’s stamp of approval.
This kind of care taken with The Ascension of A-natural and its rollout will be a testament of this new era for the artist. Unconcerned with sales or numbers, he is focused on bringing true longevity not just to the music on this project, but to his artistry as a whole. Endeavoring to use himself as an example to other artists, the goal is to continue to create a platform where they can be their most creative selves while having both the ambition, dedication, and work ethic to get it done. As his production company motto states, A-natural is looking to “build Natural City one song at a time”. This Ascension is his way up.