- Fri, 2006-07-14 10:41
Jurassic 5, one of the most widely respected names in hip hop, are back in July with their most confident album to date, Feedback. The album is a real tour de force for the LA six piece, showcasing not only the vocal diversity of the four emcees Chali 2Na, Akil, Marc 7 and Zaakir, but also the breathtaking use of beats and samples driven by DJ/producer Nu-Mark. Nu-Mark’s use of a turntable strapped around his neck and a Fisher Price-style sampler provided the talking points on their 2004 UK tour and fans can expect more surprises when the band return for some as-yet unannounced live dates.
I Like Music caught up with the very lovely Chali 2Na to chat about meeting fans, seizing the moment and crafting 'chunes'
“I Like Music because… music communicates as a language more so than just entertainment. Music is a bridge for us to able to fly to different countries and speak to different people who may or may not share the same ideologies we share, the same culture we share, the same language we share. Music is a bridge, music is a language, music is mass, music IS!" Chali 2Na, Jurassic 5
ILM: You release your fourth album Feedback in July– can you give us your own personal description of its whole vibe?
Chali: Well, it's more of an elaboration of who we are as people. It's really introverted in a lot of ways, we talk about issues that have affected us personally as well as we go back to that feel-good aspect of who we are, as well as we try to experiment a little too. In the same fasion that Jurassic has always done, a little bit of new stuff, a little bit of out there stuff, we just kinda grew in that fasion. I think it's a lot more mature and a lot more sonically bigger.
ILM: Which track did you have the most fun laying down in the studio?
Chali: Oh man. Most of em. Sometimes it was a bit of a headache to get together some times, in as far as just trying to figure out the scheduling between us all. Because two of don't live in LA no more. And sometimes it was hard to figure certain aspects out, but as far as once we got into the vibe it was on, so we had fun recording every one of these songs.
ILM: your summer tour starts soon and you’ve got plenty of live dates across the US. What do you look forward to most about playing live?
Chali: Just meeting the people who enjoy our stuff. We not only play for the people, we go out as much has we can an sign autographs, and just be genuinely reachable. I think that's one of the best ways of getting to know who the fans are, as well as the internet, but the chance to shake hands with people and see what certain aspects of the songs are enjoyable to the crowd, that's the best part of it for me, to actually be able to meet the people who actually enjoy what we do.
ILM: Any UK dates planned?
Chali: I think we're doing some UK dates in October.
ILM: Have there been any highlights as a punter going to see other' play?
Chali: Yeah man. There's a new band coming up from the Dayton area, called the Crown City Rockers, I've seen them play several times, but just recently they've changed their show a little bit. And there was one thing that they did where the drummer came from behind the drum kit and he had a snare drum round his neck like in a marching band, and he was battling the rapper, and the rapper was doing a certain pattern with his rhyme and the drummer was trying to match it, and it was so cool that at one point they switched sides and the drummer rapped and the rapper drummed it was so crazy.
ILM: Jurassic 5 is known for a old school hip hop with Tag-team delivery and harmonizing on choruses to the point where you’ve been likened to a hip-hop barbershop quartet, and your lyrics are positive, innovative and sometimes have social commentary within them. Freakin awesome in my opinion, but can you describe the process of making such brilliant hip hop music?
Chali: The method to our madness is that there is no method. We just do whatever we can to make a song. We will bend and shape stuff, we will compromise our own egos and things that we may've contributed to the song in order to make an incredible song. There is no time when we're like, "man, my verse should stay there," and you're like, "nah but your verse doesn't fit with the song." And just because of egotistical issues you keep the verse and it makes it a lesser song. No, for us, we try EVERYTHING! So if one of us has a chorus that works, then we'll build the song around that, if Numark comes with the music first, if we're all sitting around shooting shit and talking about stuff and that brings up an issue, there's so many different ways that we've tried it. We've even recorded in different places.
ILM: This is going back, an old friend of ours and your old van driver, Matt Ford aka DJ Format supported you guys on your European tour and Akil & Chali 2na, you appeared on DJ Format's The Place and We Know Something You Don’t Know. How does it feel to inspire someone else who’ve very much keeping the b-boy scene and old school hip hop vibe alive, digging for old tunes and samples? The roots of DJing and mixing? Music for the Mature BBoy is somewhat of a classic album.
Chali: It's amazing. It isn't your direct intention to be able to effect someone else like that. We sittin around making music that we hope people like. But for people to actually feel as though they're inspired to do better for themselves, the community and the music, because of something that we've done? For me that is still hard to fathom. I'm grateful that anyone can attribute their successes or inspirations to anything we've done, that's a beautiful compliment and I appreciate it. Format is definitely one of the dudes who's has been going to bat for us in the UK from day one. He's driven a 10 passenger van around the whole country by himself, Big Format.
ILM: I guess you’ve achieved quite a few of your ambitions ... But what ambitions do you still have left to fulfil?
Chali: To continue to be a good father to my son and a good friend to my friends and a good husband to my wife and a good son to my mum. Just to be an all-round better person, period. And if the music is part of it and helps me balance that skill, then so be it. I just appreciate the fact that I exist.
ILM: Have you got any tips for DJs/Producers who want to make music and get out there/make it big?
Chali: One of the biggest tips is: don't be afraid to experiment, but don't be overwhelmed by your experimentations, y'know. A lot of the time, people experiment and they take it so far that the person who's listening to the end result is not able to connect. So that's one thing. Two? Be yourself, try not to be anyone else because in the end you'll be exposed for who you are. I don't like to say "keep it real" because reality is perception in a lot of ways, so I'd say "keep it real to yourself, make sure you are who you say you are, because its easier to be you, than for you to be somebody else." And three, not really to be focused on the music industry in order just to learn it, but to understand that it's changing and its moulding and its at a stage where an artist can basically carve a niche for themselves. Opportunities are out there for new and hungry artists. The time is now for those type of artists more so than there has ever been in my opinion.
ILM: More space for people to be innovative with what they create and get heard.
ILM: It’s been a while since you guys were involved in the tour bus accident in 2000. In the six years since, have you had a different attitude to life and/or to your music?
Chali: Well Carp Adiem, Seize The Moment that's some realness because you never know what the next moment will bring. That applies to your life, your music every aspect of existence. Make sure you seize the moment and make sure that you can truly say you've been the best in every aspect. And that's how I try to live my life. I know that I'm not perfect and will make mistakes, but I accept my imperfections. And I also make it a point to recognise them in an effort to make myself better although I know there's no absolute to that other than death. So trying to continue to strive to be the best at what can you be, which is life period, every aspect of it, emotional, physical, spiritual, whatever it is.
ILM: And mistakes, as long as you learn from them, you can improve.
Chali: There's no mistakes if you learn from them, that's what my grandmother used to say. You make a mistake, you learn from that mistake, it ain't a mistake.
ILM: Whats in your CD player?
Chali: I'm just looking at my iPod... I'm listening to Beanie Man right now, Social Circumstances.