Mother Nature Credit: Nicci Briann

Over the past few years, Chicago hip-hop duo Mother Nature have become so thoroughly embedded in several overlapping scenes that it could feel like they were always playing a show. And when the weather heated up, they sometimes got gigs bigger than any one scene: Subterranean booked them for Wicker Park Fest twice in a row, they won a spot on North Coast Music Festival’s 2018 lineup, and last year they played an unofficial Pitchfork afterparty organized by multimedia outlet AMFM. This season, of course, nearly every musical gathering that helps flavor Chicago’s summers has been postponed or canceled, but Mother Nature have nonetheless found a way to remind us that they’re part of what makes bearing the city’s tundra-like conditions for the other nine months so rewarding. On the new Portalz EP (their debut for Closed Sessions), rappers Klevah Knox and TRUTH navigate languid melodies in tracks built from sweltering synths, swaggering percussion, and nimble but understated bass lines. The record has an easygoing vibe, and Klevah and TRUTH frequently lean into it, unfurling half-sung vocals that stretch on like a summer day. They sound perfectly laid-back, but they rap with such precision that you can easily imagine them pivoting instantly into aggressive, fired-up verses. And even when they stick to a relaxed lilt, their voices can transform the feel of a lackadaisical instrumental: they enliven the indolent melody of “Antidote” with a few blustery bars that burst like fireworks.   v