Chali 2na has had a busy 2014. On top of reuniting with his original group, the L.A. based alternative hip hop legends Jurassic 5 after a seven year split, he also released his own solo record Manphibian Music in March, which is itself the second of five planned E.Ps that form part of his “multimedia project” Against the Current that also involves releasing a book of his own artwork. Somehow, in between all that, he’s managed to slip in a U.K. tour as well, bringing him to Liverpool where he made one hell of a splash at The Kazimier on Wednesday night.
D.J. Snareophobe got the night up and running with reggae jams to keep the early arrivals entertained as the venue filled. He was soon joined on stage by support act Eva Lazarus, singer of Bristol’s Dub Mafia. Together they delivered a high energy combination of Reggae, Dub, Hip Hop and D’n’B, which also featured audience participation, a 16 bar challenge and a shark puppet, among other things. By the time their set was complete, the crowd was full of energy, and crackling with anticipation for the main event.
They soon got their wish as Chali 2na emerged on stage, accompanied by younger brother and fellow rapper Laidlaw, and immediately launched into the intro track from his recent E.P- appropriately named Manphibious Intro- featuring a combination of heavy bass and beats, dramatic strings and brass perfect for taking a crowd to the next level of energy and excitement. This level of intensity didn’t let up at any point, with Chali repeatedly engaging the crowd between songs to keep the energy in the room at maximum. It certainly seemed to work, as during most of the gig there didn’t appear to be a single person in the room who wasn’t dancing to the music in some form or other.
The energy levels somehow got even higher when, halfway through the set, Chali began a medley of Jurassic 5 numbers that included fan favourites tracks such as What’s Golden and Jurass Finish First. Now not only was the whole crowd dancing, but most were rapping along with the lyrics as well. Other set highlights included Eva Lazarus returning to the stage for a rendition of the song Guns Up, and Chali and his brother Laidlaw’s duet (of sorts) Brotherly Love, complete with synchronised robot dancing.
After finishing his set Chali decided, rather than go and hang out backstage by himself, to go offstage into the crowd so seemingly every audience member (including yours truly of course) could go up one by one to meet him. Actions like this show just how much Chali 2na enjoys playing live and how much he values his audience. And gigs this good show what can be achieved when an artist is so passionate about their music, and shares such a strong connection to their audience.