CHALI 2NA – Paint A Picture



CHALI 2NA interviewed @ 08:30 AEST – Saturday 9th October, 2009
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press


Jurassic 5 had the incredible knack of capturing the live hip hop aesthetic like no other act. Their stage presence grabbed even the attention of closet hip-hop fans and unsuspecting drifters-by within earshot like a kid in front of the TV set. Fortunately the proficiency of interjecting rhyme patterns equipped Chali 2na with the vocal artillery to stay above water should the Jurassic 5 disband, which they sadly did in 2007.

Charlie Stewart grew up in Los Angeles (by way of Chi-Town), a bubbling cook-pot of hardcore reality hip hop reflective of its South Central beginnings. Befriending Cut Chemist in high school, they hooked up with Mark 7even and a seven-man act called Unity Committee down at The Good Life Café’s open-mic nights. Unity aligned themselves with local crew Rebels Of Rhythm to become Jurassic Five by 1993. Four albums and an incredible world touring career later, 2007 saw the demise of J5 and the emergence of Chali 2na.

“Yeah I miss it, it’s a part of my history for sure. But I try to draw from things that I learned about being involved with acts like Jurassic 5, like the dynamics of a live show. It’s not just getting up here and spitting your lyrics out. It’s basically entertaining the people and trying to touch all of their five senses, even their smell sometimes. It definitely put me in a position of missing certain aspects,” he recalls on times with both J5 and progressive 8-piece musical Ozomatli outfit with high school homie producer Cut Chemist.

His 2009 album Fish Outta Water raises stern issues – with a strong authoritative tone of vocals, the statesman feels his place in modern hip hop lies in teaching the new school the culture behind the art, and the elements of what once was.

“I have a line in one of my songs, ‘Dirt hustle with a hurt muscle/I watched hip hop escape from New York like Kurt Russell.’ I got to see that. But these kids, they don’t get to see the culture struggle to grow. They were born and hip hop was here.”

Stewart now reclines as a veteran MC finding therapeutic release in writing his latest LP, and also releasing the same artistic expression painting on canvas as lyrics laid on wax.

“I would hear people say that writing lyrics and songs is therapeutic, but I was never really able to acquire it in such a way. Until I was able to put this solo album together.” he confides. “I’ve grown. I’ve matured as a person, so to speak. By letting the world know that I’m just a human being and I’m not hiding behind these sunglasses called stardom. I’m trying to do hip hop the way I like it. The way I’ve enjoyed it and answer the questions that some of the young pups may ask. I really do feel like an old school artist.”

In the lesser known side of Stewart’s talents in painting, he finds the same commanding, bold use of vibrant colours in his art to the vivid lyrical picture the lone MC paints in his music.
“The detail and the patience and tolerance that I put into my painting is the same discipline I use in writing lyrics. Be it a metaphor or phrase, I wanna paint a picture in your mind with the lyrics to what I’m saying – if that takes a bit of detail in the explaining or creative wordplay then yes. The same applies to choosing colours or the subject to paint. I’m a painter first, a painter who can rap. Basically that’s where the whole thing lies.”



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