Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ALBUM REVIEW: Chali 2na's Fish Market Part 2

Serving you up some tuna fish...

Chali 2na

Imagine a Hip-Hop version of Star Wars. Think of the film as a musical where every character is an emcee who delivers his lines in rhyming couplets. Cool, right? Now, a slew of rhyme sayers out there could justify their candidacy for Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, or maybe even Chewbacca, but only Chali 2Na, with that booming baritone, is a lock for Darth Vader. How ill would that famous Luke scene be with an ominous scratch from Cut Chemist and Chali 2Na rhythmically spitting, “Luke, I am your father”? That would be bugged out.

But enough of the hypotheticals. Let’s talk about 2na’s latest mixtape, Fish Market Part Two . Sifting through audio shoutouts provided by Aceyalone, Brother J of X-Clan, J-Live and others, one can’t help but shudder at how this mixtape craze has even captivated the retroists. One would expect a Jurassic 5 delegate like Chali 2na to be more fancied with vinyls and possibly flashy getups a la Furious Five, not superficial “you’re listening to my man Chali 2na, Fish Market Part 2, holla!” type drops. But then again, what is more retro than mixtapes?

Or Chali 2na’s flow for that matter; which preserves the linguistic ambition of the ‘90s and splatters it like audio jam over a multi-layered croissant. On “Step Yo Game Up,” the 2na gets aggressive, “Shifty eyes, the fish be wise/ Risky lies can lead you to a quick demise/ Get your arms wrapped up like some twisty ties/ Haters are tired from witnessing how quick we rise.” On the Tanya Stephen’s riddim “No Bad Man,” he gets island, “Real shotta make dust kick up well/ ‘Cause we gon bust the gun and dem gon pick up the shell.” And for the Planet Asia assisted “On the Low,” he even gets godly, “From the depths of ghetto, the Gepetto of lyrics/ Giving light to those incoherent/ Apparently here to announce that/ We persevere and will bounce back.”

All shades show a dynamic 2na over a platoon of different accompaniments under the same fishy theme, a theme, which is actually also one of the album’s drawbacks. In a genre where people who stick to a prevailing idea almost have to be extolled (too many slapdash compilations out there), 2na’s Fish Market Part 2 seems over thematic. “Chicken O the Sea” and “Fried 2na” are neither culinary nor audio delicacies. Fortunately, these tracks are just interludes. “Funky 4 You,” however, is just plain ol’ uninspired.

Nitpicks aside, Part Two is quality (play “Hood Report” a few times and it goes from head nodder to head banger). Chali is right at the point where he is serving just the right amount of seafood in the Hip Hop diet.

-Sidik Fofana


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