MC. Musician. Actor. Painter. Renaissance Man.
Chali2Na has done it all. From his days growing up on the hardscrabble streets of Chicago’s south side, to his subsequent explosion on to Los Angeles’ burgeoning hip-hop scene, to his tenure as MC for seminal hip-hop group, Jurassic 5, Chali epitomizes the portrait of a 21st century artist.
Indeed, with his unmistakable, beloved baritone, Chali has firmly established himself as one of the most distinctive personalities not just in hip-hop, but music in general. Only a select few can say they’ve rocked microphones in front of thousands at a sold-out arena in Tokyo with Jurassic 5, spit rhymes at Lollapalooza, appeared on two Van’s Warped Tours and supported Lenny Kravitz backed by the Latin-tinged rock of Ozomatli, and painted professional caliber oil color paintings in their California home.
More than an artist, though, Chali’s charismatic personality, his exquisitely humble approach to his craft, makes him an enigma amongst hip-hop’s elite. With this spirit in mind—and the varied musical, socio-cultural and geographical influences that have shaped him—Chali is poised to release his first solo album Fish Out Of Water in 2008.
A powerful and deeply personal body of work, Chali’s debut features a seemingly endless litany of groundbreaking tracks, which touch on topics the veteran musician has never bared to his listeners before. Whether it’s the trauma he experienced from the shooting death of a childhood friend to the twists and turns of his own family lineage, to the travails of maintaining creative chemistry with other artists, Fish Out Of Water, is quite simply, a life’s worth of songs in the making.
To be sure, Chali’s diverse tastes—from the blues he was raised on to the political gangsta’ rap he loved to the graffiti art he sprayed as a teenager—flow from this album, like the oil colors Chali uses for his paintings. With production from the likes of Will I Am to Scott Storch and collaborations with Damian and Stephen Marley and Raphael Saadique, Fish Out Of Water, feels like a new beginning of sorts for Chali.
Says Chali: “These are all artists whom I’ve always admired. Some of them I’d worked with before, some of them I hadn’t, but to have these cats on my album, to have them be part of what I’m doing… it’s just been an incredible, experience.”
Never one to be pigeonholed into a particular genre of music, or a specific artistic taste, Chali is also a rising talent in the voiceover world. With his distinctive bass-heavy voice, he made a name for himself as a voiceover specialist, beginning in 1991 with a Coors commercial and has since lent his talents to such mega-brands as Coca Cola and Sega Dreamcast. As a result, Chali’s work has attracted the interest of big-name Hollywood studios, as evidenced by his role as the character PUP in the animated picture: Night Before Christmas.
Rest assured, there’s still plenty of fire in Chali’s lyrical arsenal. His days of training at the legendary Los Angeles hotspot, the Good Life Café, have taught him well. Only now, he’s fused the bass-heavy bravado with his own life’s story, and in doing so, creates art that’s not only superb, it’s important.
Live On Stage:
Chali 2na is best known as a member of the now defunct Jurassic 5, here he is with Galatic from last year's Bonnaroo...
We'll kick with some J5, here's Quality Control...
Few more to check out...
Work It Out
For more on Chali 2na head on over to his official website.
Sunday, June 8, 2008