By Jake Ebdale
Artist: Chali 2na
Date / Venue: Friday September 19th, The Powerstation, Auckland
You could say that Jurassic 5 are more than the sum of their parts. Their overstuffed, sweaty reunion show at the Powerstation, where Chali 2na played on Friday, was a testament to how much their stature has grown. But along with DJ Numark, the group's producer, beatmaker, and DJ deck merch giant, take away Chali from J5 and it wouldn't be the same. He is a man who literally stands above the rest of the group. A voice so low, so distinctive, some would argue that he carried their classic 2002 outing, Power in Numbers, whilst others would say he's just a novelty, not a true rapper, the Bez.
But witnessing his solo show was to admire his past, his one solo album Fish Outta Water, as well as his admirable skills on the mic. It was a short, entertaining bluster of bottom heavy bass, hammy radio breaks, and reggae excursions, accompanied by his stellar band, The House of Vibe - and when they clicked, like on the classic ‘Comin' Thru', or their rendition of J5's ‘Freedom' and ‘Quality Control', it transcended genre and defied expectation.
The obligatory solo ‘What's Golden', with new verses from the big Fish, had the switch flicked to party mode. My girlfriend commented that at points he sounded like a giant Will Smith - something I never noticed. Not necessarily a bad thing either.
So all up, a good show, not dissimilar to his set at Rhythm And Vines a few years back (even with the back to back covers of that other J5). In some ways, it's frustrating that there's still no defining statement from this guy as a solo artist - apparently something is on the way - but on those truly golden moments, Chali 2na was unstoppable.