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Monday, Jul 13 2009 | 13:35 Buy this now at GoodToGo (B2B)

5379Chali 2na: MC. Musician. Actor. Painter. Renaissance Man. Chali 2na has done it all. From his days growing up on the hardscrabble streets of Chicago’s South Side, to his subsequent explosion onto 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.
With his unmistakable, beloved baritone, Chali has firmly established himself as one of the most distinctive, charismatic 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, painted professional calibre oil color paintings in their California home and lent their distinctive bass-heavy voice, to such mega-brands as Coca Cola and Sega Dreamcast. Now, buoyed by the wide spectrum of socio-cultural and geographical influences that have shaped him, hip hop’s renaissance man is poised to release his first solo album “Fish Outta Water” on Decon Records in the Summer of 2009.

Indeed, this deeply personal body of work reveals a side of the longtime Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli front man that his fans have never seen, a story from of his life, loves, triumphs and letdowns, weaving in a powerful selection of beats from the likes of Scott Storch and Jake 1, and memorable appearances from Damian Jr. Gong and Stephen Marley, Anthony Hamilton, Beenie Man and others.

“I wanted this album to expose who I am as an artist. The majority of people know me from Jurassic 5 and Ozo, but I felt like nobody knew me as an artist”, Chali says. “I want to show you all facets of who I am. Man. Husband. Brother. Father. Son. Painter.”

Indeed, 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. There’s the Fury produced, “Righteous Way”, an interpolation of Curtis Mayfield’s “Nigga”, where Chali tells the story of his life through the eyes of his father, his 17-year-old son and himself. Or the Scott Storch produced “Love Is Gonna Get You”, where Chali offers his own take on the fabled KRS-One song that inspired this 21st century version. “KRS was talking about how love was going to engulf his brother. This song talks about how love makes you do the strangest things, how it infects your heart and changes you forever”, he says.

Of course, no body of work involving Chali 2na would be complete without his trademark articulate spitfire rhymes, the sort of fearsome battle raps which first caught the ear of so many back when he honed his skills in Los Angeles’ storied underground hip hop scene of the early 1990ies.

On “Don’t Stop”, featuring the ever-soulful Anthony Hamilton, Chali beckons everyone – from revolutionaries to thugs to dime pieces – to leave their troubles at home, over a melodic, flute-infused hook. “Getting sick of the bickering from my peers and such. Bringing lyrics to keep your ears in touch”, he rhymes, daring anyone to test his mettle while playfully requesting that you too take your body to the dancefloor in the same breath.

Indeed 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 resistance to injustice that has always been imbued in Chali’s music, “Fish Outta Water” is, quite simply, a life’s worth of songs in the making.

“I want to free people’s asses and let their minds follow. To not be preachy, but to make them aware of what I’m about. I want to enlighten, but I ain’t trying to be a bumper sticker either.”

No doubt, there’s still plenty of fire in Chali’s lyrical arsenal. His days of training at legendary Los Angeles hotspot, the Good Life Café, have taught him well. Only now, he has fused the bass-heavy bravado with his own life’s story, and in doing so, creates an album of work that’s not only superb, it’s important.


01. Get Focused
02. International feat. Beenie Man
03. So Crazy
04. Lock Shit Down feat. Talib Kweli
05. Don’t Stop feat. Anthony Hamilton
06. Keep Goin’ feat. Choklate
07. Comin’ Thru
08. F.O.W.
09. Love’s Gonna Getcha
10. Righteous Way
11. When Will I See You Again feat. Elzhi
12. Guns Up feat. Damian Marley & Stephen Marley
13. Graff Time
14. Controlled Coincidence feat. Kanetic Source
15. 4 Be Be feat. Ming Xia

The album Chali 2na (Jurassic 5)Fish Outta Water” (Decon) has been released July 10, 2009.

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