Nat Anglin, a 28-year-old rapper who performs as “Natural,” long ago made the streets of Boston his musical muse. His songs and videos are liberally laced with B-caps and big-ups to Big Papi. Natural belongs to a school of homegrown MCs who rep Boston with conscious abandon – knowing full well that such boosterism could stymie some national break-out moment.
It’s never fazed Anglin, a Milton-reared baseball player and fan with deep Dorchester roots who works part-time as a bartender and teacher. When bombs blew apart lives and limbs on Boylston Street last April, Anglin didn’t have to conjure up some abstract artistic connection to the carnage.
Like many of us, he knew some of the victims personally, including members of the Richard family, whose eight-year-old son Martin was one of three killed in the blasts. Nat was one of scores of locals who attended the memorial service at Holy Cross Cathedral where President Obama sought to console the city with words of resolve and compassion.
It was only, well, natural, that Anglin, a gifted lyricist in his own right, would someday soon seek to tackle the tough subject matter in his chosen medium. The result is “State of Grace”, a song he has dedicated specifically to Martin Richard. Its title is a nod to the president’s speech in which he quoted from E.B. White’s ode to the city, written back in 1949.
“I don’t know much but/ I know I love this place. This ain’t my home/It’s a state of grace,” raps Anglin.
On Monday, Natural released the music video for State of Grace – filmed mainly in Savin Hill, Ashmont, Adams Corner, and Neponset. The video features cameos from Dorchester neighbors, many of them holding signs inspired by the iconic photo of young Martin holding a sign he made in school that read, “No more hurting people. Peace.”
Anglin explained: “The point of the song is to look for the positives in the midst of the worst. I feel Martin left us with the most simple of messages, and yet, the most poignant.”
The song is also a critique of how a global event like the Marathon terror attack gets processed at the street level where its actual impacts are most immediate and indelible. It’s leavened with the raw emotions that roiled the city and its neighborhoods in the days after the attack. But it benefits from the passage of weeks, then months – and the introspection of the writer. It’s a different song, a different video than what might have been produced in April or May.
“Although this directly impacted the city in which we call home, the lessons learned during and after can be applied to many places around this world,” Anglin wrote on his Facebook page this week. “No barriers. No racial differences, no monetary differences, no neighborhood differences, and no political differences will separate the equality we SHOULD share. A fundamental human right. An important community duty. Peace. Safety. For you. Your family. Your friends. Look out for those around you and help who you can. There is so much left to work on ... I just hope my song can help spread the good message.”
The song “State of Grace” is available now on iTunes and other music sites. All proceeds from the sale of the song will go to the Richard Family Fund, as will tickets to the Nov. 16 release party for his latest record, “Ways to Go”— which will be held at “Who’s on First” on Yawkey Way. – Bill Forry