Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interview With Chali 2Na

Charles Stewart (a.k.a.Chali2na) has had quite the career. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago he was inspired by the young, underground sound of House music. After moving to Los Angeles it didn't take long before he was performing spoken word and starting to rap. In his work with such groups as Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli and his countless collaborations, Chali2na has gained respect as one of the Hip-Hop's most prolific MC's. While he's noted for his music he's also a painter, has scored a few video games and has even managed to add Actor to his resume. Recently when he came in to Twist & Shout to shoot a scene for an upcoming video, he also agreed to answer a few on-line questions for our loyal Spork readers.

When we met, we talked about tattoos. What is your favorite and why?

My favorite ones are memorial tattoos because they mean so much to the person who has them. Usually they would have done their homework and searched for the best thing they could think of to celebrate the occasion.

You're currently shooting a video, tell me a little about the project you're working on.

Well it's called Against the Current and it'll be broken up into five genre-specific EP's that will allow me to draw on my inspirations musically. Each EP will represent a genre or style of music that inspires me such as Caribbean, Electronic, Live instrumentation and just straight Hip-Hop.

What inspires your painting?

Like my music, everyday events inspire my paintings. I'm a sucker for detail so I go for things that tell a story through the amount of detail present. Weird angles catch my eye and I try to translate what I see with a message behind it.

It's been several years now since your head injury, how do you think that has affected you as an artist, both an MC and as a visual artist?

Well my biggest lesson from the crash was to seize the moment. You never know when the time to leave is now so live as if the next moment is that moment. Now I have a newfound sense of urgency that pushes me a bit further than I'd normally go I guess.

Who are you listening to right now?

Believe it or not, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Chill Rob G, Percee P, StesaSonic! Riding in my car reliving those days and appreciating how innovative these guys were and still are today!

What's the most memorable show you've ever done?

That's almost impossible to answer. I've been blessed to be at shows where there were 80 thousand people as well as shows in small clubs where people like Prince have shown up so it varies quite a bit.

What do you think of Hip Hop now compared to when you were first coming up?

The kids today don't know a world without Computers, Internet, Hip-Hop. So in my opinion they take it more for granted as something that's just gonna be there than we did watching it being created, and defined into what it is today. It's treated more like a piece of disposable chewing gum than a great book that you'd share with all your friends.

You've always worked with incredible crews, how does that compare to being a solo artist?

It doesn't really. Being solo is much more work with a different kind of reward at the end. But being a part of the crews I've been blessed to be a part of was just that... a blessing!!

Knowing the political climate in the US today, what are your thoughts on the state of Civil Rights today?

It's apparent that Civil Rights in this country haven't moved forward much when you finally have a black president whose very existence brings out the inner racist in people you'd least expect.

How does that manifest itself into your music?

I'm a freedom fighter using the only weapon God gave me which is my art. So musically or visually you will find that I'm pushing for a change for the better in whatever I can effect change in.

What's your favorite thing to do after you've created something you really love?

Show it to as many people as I can....lol!!

- Natja Soave

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