In anticipation of his new album Fish Market 2, South Central-bred baritone rapper Chali 2na (from Jurassic 5/ Ozomatli) has dropped some free tunes for ya. The sequel to last year's Fish Market teaser, the album burgeons with cameos from J-Live, Tanya Stephens, Jack Spade, and even a dubstep-rap song produced by Rusko. Chali drops the album on Decon Records on June 8th.

Listen to some choice cuts from the album, and a special look back at this West Coast Sound correspondent's afternoon with Chali last year. It's like a “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” only a year late. Oops!:

Chali 2na – Across the Map ft J-Live

Credit: Drew Tewksbury

Credit: Drew Tewksbury

Gather round kids, ol' Tewksbury has a yarn for you. Well, maybe not a yarn, or a tale, but really, it's just some old news about Chali 2na. Is this the wave of the future, you may ask? Old news? Maybe it is. Like that whole slow food movement.* But I digress.

I made a mistake. Last year, I hung out with Chali 2na and Talib Kweli for an afternoon, and, like a dumbass, I didn't write about it. Why not? I can't remember, but today, I am righting that wrong.

Credit: Drew Tewksbury

Credit: Drew Tewksbury

I met up with Chali, Talib and their respective entourages (no “bitches,” no bling involved, just families, kids, and a seriously delicious spread of bbq) at a Hollywood studio for the video shoot for Chali's song “Lock Shit Down Ft. Talib Kweli” from his first solo effort Fish Outta Water. Chali and Talib joked around in front of the green screen, while a loop of the song played over and over. It wasn't a Hype Williams Joint (90's people, know what I'm sayin'?), this was a low-fi operation, but watching Kweli and 2na do what they do was entertaining.

Credit: Drew Tewksbury

Credit: Drew Tewksbury

Of course they were lip-synching, and between takes Kweli had a P.A. show him how to use Twitter (this was middle 2009, pre-Tweetmania), yet watching accomplished performers at work feels exciting nonetheless. You just can't help but like these guys.

Credit: Drew Tewksbury

Credit: Drew Tewksbury

2na was especially excited. This was his chance to step out from the entourages of Ozomatli and Jurassic 5. Between takes, Chali and I spoke candidly about his stalled solo career, and how hard it was for him to get the courage to stand on his own. For a 6-foot-7 guy whose huge hands could hold two kittens (a piece!), it seemed that fear wasn't something he was capable of feeling. But he was nervous. None of that “tough guy rapper” schtick. Chali was being himself, it seemed.

Credit: Drew Tewksbury

Credit: Drew Tewksbury

Maybe it was that huge joint he smoked by the dumpster too. Or maybe Chali's been in the game so just doesn't care about bravado anymore, but Chali had nothing to prove. It's the honesty that we've come to expect from him, stretching back to the J-5 days. Apparently, his nice-guy** raps weren't just a cover. In person, he spits the truth.

He just wanted to make something good, he said. “I just made this track with this guy named Rusko,” he told me, “It's a game changer.”

Nearly a year later that track hits the streets, and Chali is back with his next attempt to win over new fans and die-hards alike. And from the sounds of the cameo filled Fish Market 2 he may have a winner in those giant hands.


1. Fintro

2. FM2 Theme (feat. DJ Dez Andres)

3. Greezy (feat. Jack Spade, Akil, Laid Law, DJ Dez Andres)

4. 2na Interview

5. No Bad Mon (Tanya Stephens feat. Chali 2na)

6. Chicken O The Sea Messages (Sha Born, Shockwave & Street Cred)

7. Hype 2night (feat. Ang 13)

8. I Met Dez

9. Step Yo Game Up

10. Funky For You (X-Clan feat. Chali 2na)

11. RIP Dusk

12. 2 Much (Heroes in the City of Dope feat. Chali 2na)

13. Across the Map (feat. J-Live)

14. Hood Report

15. Focused Up (feat. Shock Wave, Ang 13, Raw Power, Street Cred, Laid Law)

16. Fried 2na

17. On The Low (feat. Planet Asia)

18. Wheels On The World (feat. DJ Dez Andres, Elzhi)

19. Gadget Go Go

20. 4 The Luv (feat. DJ Dez Andres, Fat Ray)

21. Time Is Now

22. Save the People

*Of course, I hate that. Slow food. What's the point? I can't get food into my face fast enough. Forks, knives, chopsticks, cutlery, all impediments to my food hole.

**Nice guy. Apparently I think every one is nice. Except Dan from the Black Keys. He was not nice, especially as he was passive aggressively yelling at his wife while I spoke to him on the phone. “I'm sorry, it's pretty loud in here, I need to go to another room, because SOMEONE is making too much noise in here,” he said. I hope he got better.

LA Weekly