Next month four of hip hop’s biggest icons will destroy stages all over Australia, and one of those icons is of course Chali 2na. He’s most well known for being the booming baritone voice that set Jurassic 5 apart from so many other crews. We’ve been awaiting an album from him for quite some time, but he points to the deterioration of the relationship between his old J5 crew and their record label Interscope as the reason for the delay. The label was originally meant to be assisting him with putting it together, but when things went south, Chali decided to finish his first solo effort Fish Outta water elsewhere. And elsewhere turned out to be none other than Decon Inc.
Ahead of his national tour with Nas, Qbert and Supernatural kicking off this weekend, ITM spoke with Chali 2na about the upcoming low:fi tour, his forthcoming solo album as well as well as professing his love for the Hilltop Hoods.
How long did the songs take to evolve for your first solo record?
I had a collection of songs that I liked, and I listened to them and I listened to them and I listened to them and I thought, these don’t lose speed! Then the climate of rap changed, the climate of music changed, so without jeopardising the direction of the album. Where i was trying to go with this whole identification process, showing you something about who I am outside of all of the things that you have seen me with, came up with some new songs that I thought would help show that, rearranged the order and I was ready to go.
When you sit down to write a track do you generally have an idea of where you want the song to go lyrically, or does that come as you start writing?
It’s a little bit of both man, Sometimes I have an idea of the song, I’m going to write a song about this. Sometimes the lyrics come first, sometimes the music comes first, sometimes both of them, there really is no method to the madness at all, it just happens. As you recognise it happening you have to sink into the moment, whether it takes 20 minutes or twenty days to write the song.
You have worked with some big names on this album, do you want to let us know a little bit about how some of those collaborations came about?
Lets start with Talib Kweli, with Lock Shit Down. I had recorded the song and I had loved what I did but I wanted to have another MC, that was an MC’s MC on there, a Mos Def a Talib or a Common, somebody like that. Talib was the one who was like “yo I’ll do it man”, So he got on the track and it came off so I was happy about that.
I got a chance to go down to Jamaica to vibe with my brothers from the Marley family Damien Jr Gong and Stephen, and that was amazing you know cause these guys live and breath music at all times, so they had some really interesting criticisms that helped me round out this album. As well as just me being shocked that they liked a couple of things that I had thought they might not like, I was playing and they were like “yeow what’s that!” So that was amazing, that really helped my inspirational process, and it helped me take my chest off my chin and keep movin’. It was cool to not only reach out to people who I am a fan of and respect, but also you know I hoped that they would be willing to help me get this project up and all of them had the same enthusiasm in helping me accomplish this so I was happy about it all.
Recently we have been lucky enough to have a few high profile MCs showing up on some of our bigger local artists releases, do you have any plans for collaborating with anyone while you are out here?
Nothing lined up, but I would love to do stuff with the Hilltop Hoods, I like them dudes a lot man.
Pharoahe Monch ended up on their latest record.
Damn he beat me to it…hahaha. Those dudes are dope man, The Nosebleed Section was the joint.
I want to ask you about the show that is coming out here in a couple of weeks, are you going to be giving us stuff solely from the mix tape and your new record, or will there be few surprises in there as well?
Oh, I’m a give you a little bit of everything man. I can’t just come down there and do Jurassic Stuff, or do like just stuff from the mix tape or Fish Outta Water, I gotta kind of do a piece of everything that you know about me. The show is full of a lot of that, but there are a couple of surprises in there too, and I’m hopin’ that people enjoy it. I’m rollin’ with a three piece band as well as my brother, so we are really really tight. I have been able to perfect things while being on the Rock the Bells tour. I am really happy about what I am able to bring and I hope that people are receptive to it. It’s a blessing to be on a tour with somebody of Nas’ calibre, to open up for someone like that looks real good on my resume later. I’m just going to be happy to be in front of a large Australian crowd of people that are into hip hop man, cause Nas is hip hop, Supernatural is hip hop, Q-Bert is hip hop, I’m just happy to be a part of that night.
Supergroups seem to be the popular thing at the moment, is there any chance of seeing yourself, Nas, Supernat and Q-bert on stage together while you are out here?
I hope so man, I hope we can talk the whole conglomerate into doing some kind of encore or something, that would be great cause me and Supernat, that’s my brother, you know it is what it is, you’re going to see us up there no question, you definitely going to see us together, and Q-bert is my family too, I have known that dude for years. Nas is the only one I’ve never got a chance to really connect with, and it’s just beautiful to be on this tour so hopefully we can hook something up.
You have been out to our country a fair few times now, most recently with Galactic. Do you have any particular spots you like to go or hang out?
I got a couple of friends out there and wherever they decide to take me is where I usually go, Bondi Beach is the shit for me. I also like to go over there by the Opera house an hang out with all them damn seagulls, I love them dudes, Finding Nemo I thought was an exaggeration until I sat down there with a plate of fish and thought oh my god, are you serious? This is crazy… MATE, MATE, MATE, MATE, MATE I mean that shit was for real. I had never seen nothin’ like that in my life. My friend also took me to the koala park, I mean these things that maybe you guys take for granted cause you live there, I enjoy.
Check out Chali 2na on the various stops on the ‘low:fi’ tour below:
Sat 24th October – Summer Break, Rymill Park, Adelaide (CHALI 2NA, QBERT & MC SUPERNATURAL)
Sun 25th October – The Aberdeen Hotel, Aberdeen Street & The Shed, Perth (NAS, CHALI 2NA, QBERT & MC SUPERNATURAL)
Wed 28th October – The Palace Metro Theatre, Melbourne (NAS ONLY)
Thurs 29th October – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (NAS ONLY)
Friday 30th October – The Tivoli, Brisbane (NAS ONLY)
Friday 30th October – The Esplanade Hotel, Melbourne (CHALI 2NA ONLY)
Sat 31st October – The Enmore Theatre, Sydney (NAS, CHALI 2NA, QBERT & MC SUPERNATURAL)
Sun 1st November – Island Vibe Festival (Stradbroke Island), Brisbane (CHALI 2NA ONLY)
Mon 2nd November – The Esplanade Hotel, Melbourne (QBERT + SUPERNATURAL ONLY)