After years with Jurassic 5, Ozomatli, and countless guest appearances, we finally get a Chali 2na solo album. That’s right, that distinctive laid-back smooth baritone voice is striking out on his own. And while I’ve always enjoyed his verses and his voice, I was never so sold on his all around abilities that I’ve been waiting for him to strike out on a solo career.
Upon listening to the album, my initial suspicions were confirmed - this album is very dependent on who is producing and guesting on each track. Which isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, it’s just that I didn’t have a preconceived notion as to who Chali was as a solo artist, and I didn’t know who he needed to be working with, and I get the impression that he was figuring that out as he went.
When things come together, this album is quite good. It’s just that there are occasions on this album when things just feel awkward, like someone should have just stopped the track and thrown it out and said, “Guys, this ain’t working.” Songs like “I’m So Crazy,” “Keep Goin’,” “Love’s Gonna Getcha,” “Righteous Way,” “When Will I See You Again,” and “Guns Up” all seem to speak to some sort of cross-over experimentation with R&B and reggae that just doesn’t come together in a way that works.
This is a shame, because on the tracks where things come together, the album is great. “Graff Time” shows what this album could have been, as a laid-back groove with bouncing piano set the tone over Chali’s rhymes about the joy of tagging. Why couldn’t the whole album have been like this? “Controlled Coincidence” gives us a taste of how Chali fits in with Ozomatli, with their Latin hip hop styles and politically-minded lyrics, but by this point we’re nearing the end of the album.
It’s unfortunate, because I feel like this should have been a enjoyable album, but instead are pieces of a good EP out of a so-so full-length. My only hope is that 2na takes this to heart and brings it stronger next time. I feel like he has the ability to drop a substantial album on us. This just ain’t it.
|Title:||Chali 2na - Fish Outta Water|