When most people think of poetry they think of the traditional, on paper kind. Their thoughts drift to that of haiku or romantic poetry that they have heard, read, or learned about in school. While that is the most well-known form of poetry, one of the most abundant forms is music.
The average person doesn’t consider music as a form of poetry, but instead they put it in a category all by itself. This isn’t a wrong way of looking at it, but many others, including many respected historians and poets label music as one of, if not the most popular form of poetry.
Nathan Smith considers himself as someone who goes against the norm of the music industry. Even before becoming the big-time personality he is today, he advocated for his listeners and fans to do what they cared about and not what would get them the most payout.
The base of his fan community is built on how relatable he is and the feeling of friendship he conveys in each production he is involved in. His work ethic and slow build up to his current standing brought more people into his corner as his productions picked up steam. He is the embodiment of the phrase “started from the bottom, now we’re here.”
Nate ‘NateWantstoBattle’ Smith was born in Richmond, Virginia on March 1, 1989 and works out of an office in Los Angeles, California with his roommate and editor Brett Ultimus. He has been uploading music and other videos on his Youtube channel since 2013.
He has revived his second channel where he uploads gameplay and vlogs in his spare time, while his best friend Hunter ‘dookieshed’ Hughes has also moved out and into the same office so they could continue working together. He has recently started going on tour and announcing projects for both 2017 and 2018.
His work mainly consists of covers of video games and anime theme songs. He has stopped doing parodies of songs as he stated he prefers working with the original product rather than messing with it. His focus on gameplay has shifted to only the occasional series on his secondary channel and his co-op commentary with Hunter on their collaboration channel NateandDookie.
He has announced another completely original album and the sequel to his popular cover album ‘Thnks Fr Th Cvrs’ will be released between summer 2017 and 2018 and he has released many characters he will be voicing in the upcoming months in Funimation’s dubs of popular anime. In March, he launched a Patreon for anyone who wished to help fund the projects he does on his channel.
The fact stands that NateWantstoBattle was not the first and will not be the last independent musician to achieve success. He is however one of the most interesting examples.
He actively talks to fans and tells them to follow their dreams. He frequently hold question and answer streams hosted on his Youtube channel so he can get to know people in his online community. Most musicians would be limited to at event fan interactions, but Nate actively seeks it on social media and in his production.
Conventions around the United States and even a few overseas will fly him out so that his fans get a chance to meet him at their venues. His gaming background and videos opens another avenue for people to feel an attachment to him. When people watch him play games and tell stories with his friends it feels like they are conversing with him. This makes him seem more like a friend than an idol to the thousands of people who frequent his videos.
This lets him impact people on two major levels. Both as an inspirational person who for some is a goal they wish to reach and others can look up to, while also being a friendly person who anyone can view as a friend.
I picked the title song Sandcastle Kingdoms from the album of the same name to analyze for this article to give you all an example of his musical stylie. This song is a perfect showcase of how Nate’s individual style mixes with his lyrics and the unique type of instruments being used in the background.
The theme of both the song and album is time passing and how things change throughout the years. The opening of this song leaves you with an uncertain feeling because the sounds used at the beginning are not traditional. From there it talks about death taking everything and oceans full of dreams with someone being stuck on an island, alluding to the end of life and the many dreams left unfulfilled.
Strong reference to people not being able to trust their own words in life is used a few times and strengthens the base message of change in people. The entire beginning of the song is just comparing the goals of people in life to those of the dead before pulling them all together by saying it is all the same.
The theme never changes throughout as the lyrics move from talking about death being the end all and only your name meaning something to waking up and doing something to change your fate.
The song makes commentary about social structure and following blindly with no information being wrong and yet common. A few lines about kingdoms could be related to religion if you look hard enough at the context, but Nate tends to stay away from controversial topics in his music.
The final two lines in this piece strike two chords to the core. “Maybe one day you’ll find humanity. Until then don’t you dare say that we are the same…” The first strike is the theme culminating with this finale. The people who are dying without realizing their dreams and those that are just blindly following others are nothing like the people who put their all into getting everything they can out of life. And until they realize those faults they will never be the same.
The second strike is that this is a reference to one of his other top songs ‘No More’ which has a very similar theme (Smith Youtube). That gives fans some insight into the more serious context of the song. This is a great piece that has a lot of similarities to an elegy. The take on humanity and the undertone of helplessness is a great driving force to a strong song.
As of late Nate has taken a more personalized approach to his productions. Doing more and more original songs or covers of things he personally enjoys rather than the popular ideas. His tone has shifted from all fun loving and laid back to a friendly and yet emotional style that has seen his channel art and posters for recent works change to something that fits this new him.
Fans have shown their love for the new style and it appears to have amplified his already astounding creativity. But, while his style and look might have changed, his motives and message are still the same. I think his tagline sums it up better than I ever could.
“Hi, I’m Nate! I make music about anime and video games and other stuff I like. I hope you like it, too!”