A fine, streamlined mixtape release from the former Jurassic 5 MC and friends.
Mike Diver 2011
Though it runs to a whopping 22 tracks, and features a wealth of contributors ranging from forceful female MC Ang 13 and acclaimed New York lyricist J-Live to regular DJ/producer cohort Dez Andres, Chali 2na’s follow-up to his 2004 Fish Market mixtape skips along at an impressive pace. It streamlines what could have been a bloated experience into a lean, mean collection of fine rhymes and tight production.
The former Jurassic 5 rapper’s debut solo effort proper, 2009’s Fish Outta Water, was a rather mixed affair – too many producers, not enough synergy. But here he transforms what is, essentially, an odds-and-sods set into a surprisingly cohesive whole which shines brightly as an admirable achievement, given the on-paper lack of potential. Any promise of "obscure gems" and "unreleased heaters" would usually leave most listeners expecting the worst – one man’s passion is another man’s poisson, of course (how apt) – but although these tracks are drawn from many and varied sources, they’re gelled with real class.
Highlights rise from the fine flow, though. Rusko’s Go Go Gadget is flipped into Gadget Go Go, which finds the man born Charles Stewart drawling his baritone over the UK dubstep producer’s characteristically bouncy bass wobbles. Funky 4 U is an X-Clan-guided number which pulses with menace despite in-the-club lyrics which, without the impressive production from Quazadellic, might feel rather lightweight. And the FM2 Theme which opens proceedings, after a scene-setting intro from our main protagonist which promises to "give it depth" (he does, frequently), is a brilliantly bright cacophony of vocal samples and deft scratches. Chali 2na isn’t always the headliner on a track, but when he emerges the step-above talent of the J5iver is positively tangible.
Little is downbeat, though the DJ Babu-produced Save the People ends the set with a thought-provoking slow jam. Overall the tone is positive, and Fish Market, Part 2 will make a fine accompaniment to al fresco partying once the sun decides to shine in earnest this summer.