Tuning into popular radio stations, ears are sometimes met with negative themes camouflaged by hot beats and catchy lyrics. Songs about violence, drug use and the degradation of women are finding their way into heavy rotation on the air waves. But one afternoon in early 2010, a Baltimore father and his three daughters decided it was time for a change. That change came in the shape of Charm City’s own music trio Watoto From the Nile, comprised of sisters Nia, Nya and Kamaria.
“The music of today is dirty. It has good sounds and a good flow, but we felt like we needed an image to help in the cleaning up of hip hop,” said Jabari Natur, the girls’ father and creator of the group. Watoto, which means children in Swahili, aims to confront the negative ideas surrounding today’s youth, with music that provokes thought and inspires change. Their music is described as “cultural, inspirational and informative, at time channeling the ‘80s.”
With 10-year-old Nia providing the vocals, 9-year-old Nya supplying the rhymes and sweet-faced 5-year-old Kamaria still sharpening her craft, these sisters have already created quite the buzz locally and nationally. The girls were recently featured performers at a May 14 program called “ENOUGH is ENOUGH: A Nation Can Rise No Higher Than Its Woman,” which discussed the harmful social and cultural images of the Black community in mainstream hip hop, and more specifically, the images of women and girls.
In 2010 they dropped their first single, an up-tempo tune about perseverance entitled “I Won’t Quit,” which was an instant hit among kids in the Baltimore area. In February 2011, they released their controversial second single, “A Letter to Lil Wayne.” This song, in the form of an open letter, took aim at one of the biggest rappers in the music industry and urged him to end the negative portrayal of women in his music. The song was accompanied by a video that helped the group achieve the bulk of its notoriety. The YouTube music video went viral, garnering over 900,000 views in months. Although they’ve received some backlash, the video has generally been well received. Although the girls take criticism in stride, Natur said he shares these words of wisdom with them: “Whenever people stand up for anything that’s positive, people are always met with people who don’t that change to happen.”
While Natur writes the lyrics for most of the group’s songs, the girls influence the messages presented in their music. They choose the beats and dictate the sound of the songs and he acts as a scribe for their thoughts and ideas.
“The music of today is filthy,” said Natur. “A lot of these songs come of as children’s jingles but they’re filthy and an infested and Watoto cleans them up.”
These girls hope to take their ambitions to greater heights and spend hours practicing choreography and rehearsing each week between their studies. Watoto From the Nile has already released a mixtape called Life Giving Energy plans to drop a new music video within the next month and also release a new album.
When they aren’t working on music or performing Nia, Nya, and Kamaria enjoy being kids. Nya likes playing basketball, Nia enjoys writing songs with her friends and Kamaria likes spending time at the playground.
For more information about Watoto From the Nile please visit reverbnation.com/watotofromthenile.com and their mixtape is available for download on www.datpiff.com. Follow the group on Twitter @lgemovement and on their Facebook page, facebook.com/watotofromthenile.