For the past 20 years, Chali 2na, aka the verbal Herman Munster has been one of the most well-known MCs of Jurassic 5. His booming baritone is one of the most instantly recognizable voices in all of hip hop and easily memorable. Even after the alternative hip hop legends successfully reunited in 2013, 2na –born Charles Stewart –continued to venture out and squeeze time in between shows to focus on his solo career.
Calling his project Against The Current, the MC is in the process of releasing five distinct EPs that will culminate in a coffee table-styled art book and music box-set to be unveiled later this year. Fans unfamiliar with 2na's solo material may be surprised to hear the diverse sounds that encompass his songs.
"I felt that, when I was coming up with the idea for the coffee table book, I felt that five EPs would help serve as a commercial for the book instead of the centerpiece," the MC says over the phone while weaving in and out of traffic on the 405. "The music would be based on all the genres I enjoyed as a child. Anything from newer hip hop to R&B to reggae to salsa to electronica is what I wanted to incorporate on the EPs. I've made a career of not trying to put myself in a box and share the music that I love."
The rapper raised money through Pledge Music to get the project off the ground. 2na says the goal is to reward fans for their faith in his vision. He says he wasn't as interested in gaining new fans with this undertaking as he was in giving his longtime fans something they'd appreciate and use to celebrate his career to date.
Instead of packaging the project as a single or double album, 2na wanted to give fans the opportunity to purchase and listen to the whole project instead of cherry picking songs off iTunes or Amazon. The rapper says that listening to five or six songs at a clip makes it easier to focus and narrows down their choices as opposed to casting a wide net and thus, not giving the project a full listen.
Having just returned from a J5 tour, 2na is playing two local shows at the Federal Bar — in North Hollywood and Long Beach respectively — and will feature The House of Vibe as his backing band.
"I'm just trying to keep the knives sharp," he says with a chuckle.
As for Jurassic 5, the group continues to make the rounds based on their past laurels. Even though they released "The Way We Do" to much acclaim, there aren't immediate plans for the group to get back into the studio yet, but that doesn't mean the MC is ready to rule out any future material from the alternative hip hop legends.
"We've been talking about everything," 2na says coyly. "We're trying to figure out with what we're going to hit the world with next. That being said, I'm not at liberty to say what we're going to try to do, but I think that something will happen more sooner than later."