Friday, August 23, 2019

Chali 2na turns passion for graffiti into music career

February 6, 2019 by Kate Wood, contributing writer

He meant to be a painter, but LA-based MC Chali 2na just couldn’t help it. From the hip hop group Jurassic 5 to the Grammy-winning band Ozomatli, 2na (pronounced “tuna,” real name Charles Stewart) is now preparing to tour his latest solo EP, Instrumentality, the fifth and final instalment of his Against the Current EP series.

“The solo thing that I bring is a bit of both worlds,” says 2na, “as well as a bit of my own world, alongside my band The House of Vibe, who helped me translate these adventures. It’s a fun show, its dynamic, it’s a party, and all those, including the people that are onstage, are involved in that party.”

Graffiti was 2na’s first passion. He warmly welcomes artists who take on the craft with their own unique interpretations and methods, but is disturbed by corporations that take up prime spaces for street art.

“The medium itself used to create the painting, first and foremost, is one of the tell-tale signs of graffiti,” says 2na, “art that was illegally created in circumstances where art didn’t exist, or shouldn’t exist, at first. Now those same tactics have been, in my opinion, sometimes ripped off by these big corporate companies; I trip about all that. Where they choose to advertise now are places where graffiti artists would have taken up, and still call themselves ‘beautifying.’ I like the street aspect of it, the vigilante beautification of an area.”

Los Angeles-based MC Chali 2na was turned on to hip hop through graffiti (photo provided).

His passion for painting led 2na on an unexpected career path, introducing him to every aspect of hip hop culture. Although he may have only started rapping as a hobby, 2na wouldn’t change a thing about the life that he’s built for himself through music, and it all started through his interest in graffiti.

“I never thought, honestly, that rap would be what got me known, or would cut a way through the world for me,” he says. “My whole intention was to try to do it from a visual art perspective. I was trying to go to school, I was gonna be, whether it be some commercial graphic art, or whatever… I love to paint and things of that nature. That was my goal. I can rap, I can pop, I can breakdance, you know, whatever stuff, but that was just hobby stuff. For those things to take precedence and be the main source of my income for 10 or 30 years is a trip for me, but I’ve embraced all of it and I’m extremely grateful for everything. If somebody asked me, ‘If you could do this over, what would you do different?’ I’d be like, ‘Nothing.’”

Chali 2na
8 pm Saturday, February 9
$20, Capital Ballroom

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