The music industry looms with temptations of pride, alcohol and depression. Having been called out of that darkness, Illuminate is here to share his personal experiences to bring others into the same wonderful light.
Illuminate was born Nathan Bartlett in the Bay Area with the odds stacked against him. His father was a drummer for the famous funk and soul group Tower of Power and battled heroin addiction for 27 years. Nate’s mother also battled drug and alcohol addictions for several years after growing up in the foster system. Nate had struggles early in life battling gang culture, drinking and drugs. He began rapping during an especially turbulent time when he had repeated incarcerations in juvenile hall. What first started as a way to keep up with the homies turned out to be a powerful outlet for creative expression.
Nasty Nate recorded his first album at 17 years old. Shortly after, tragedy struck when Nate’s father overdosed and died. Broken and lost, Nate went to Victory Outreach, an inner city ministry, where he started to turn his life around. Despite the ray of hope that Nate experienced there, the lure of the music industry kept him locked into the ways of the world. “I still wanted the notoriety and attention that came with being a secular artist,” Nate shares. “I didn’t fully surrender that desire to God at the time.”
Several doors opened for Nasty Nate to work with artists like Fabolous, The Game, Snoop Dogg, E-40, Baby Bash and Tech N9ne. He recorded and toured, building a career for himself as a musician, but also as a drug dealer and pimp before a fateful day where he submitted his life to God once and for all.
He ridded himself of the Nasty Nate identity and took a two-and-a-half year hiatus from music before stepping into his new identity as Illuminate. He linked with Sevin, Bizzle, and several other rappers who were passionate about urban ministry. His career blossomed once again, this time with a much greater sense of purpose. “I lived in darkness for so many years and I have firsthand knowledge of the street life and gangsta mentality,” he reflects. “Because of my past and how intimate I once was with sin and darkness, I am able to expose the lies of the enemy that I once believed for so long. I realize my life is not my own and I will continue to do everything possible to help lead everyone to Salvation and a better life through Jesus Christ.”
Illuminate has released four solo Gospel albums, including 2016’s Authenticity. He is an ordained minister and heads up Illuminate the World Ministries and ITW Music where he oversees and mentors other music ministers. In 2015, he traveled with Sevin on the Pray 4 My Hood Tour where they reached more than 60 cities across the United States with a message of love and hope in Jesus Christ. He joined RMG Amplify to partner in the release of his fifth studio album, Winds and Waves, a project reflecting on the storms of life, but ultimately calling the listener to hope in the winds of God’s glory and the waves of His grace.