In the Land of Milk and Honey, where everything isn’t always so sunny, it seems like it gets more difficult for musicians – especially Hip-Hop - to find the keys to longevity. Jurassic 5, however, one of West Coast hip-hop’s pioneers, has figured out how to allow six individual voices to stand out and stand together as they venture out but not away from. Charlie 2na, a faction of one of the underground’s favorite throwback groups, is sounding off as he takes his turn at letting his voice be heard as he tells us how J5 has maintained and how he as a man has grown.
AllHipHop.com: So what’s up, you the latest to fly solo?
C2: Well it’s a sole venture, It’s not like I’m going solo and leaving my crew because without my crew I wouldn’t even be here. We ain’t finished making music together anyways. It was just one of those things where something had been brewing inside me since the conception of me being an mc and just going one day I would like to just get this off of my chest and today’s the day.
AllHipHop.com: How is what you have to get off your chest as an individual different from what you have to get off your chest in the group?
C2: Well, it’s a lot more personal and a lot closer to home. It’s a lot more audio-biographical if you feel what I’m saying. It’s like a lot things that have happened in my life to shape me into being who I am are being exposed on this album. Along with a lot of collaborations I’ve always wanted to do with Jacks but wasn’t always necessarily able to pull off being in the group because you know being in the group and having six minds having to bounce around these ideas, it wasn’t something I was immediately able to do like working with Beenie Man and Raphael Saadiq and for me it was more than just getting to work with them, I’m a big fan of their music so it was really big for me to finally be able to do it on my solo project.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me how you would classify J5’s sound versus your own sound or style.
C2: J5 is unadulterated hip-hop. People always try to make us out to be like we’re the alternative’s of hip hop today when in actuality I feel like a lot of these cat’s out here are the alternative’s to hip-hop. But to sum us up it’s a line in the song we got called “Break This” that says we paying homage as well as returning favors and that’s basically what Jurassic is. We draw from the past and we draw from the future as well but we just try to acknowledge what happened in order for us to see where we’re going. With my stuff, I’m 1/6 of that conglomerate that makes that unadulterated hip hop so I’m basically showing you that percentage of Jurassic. That 1/6 of what I bring which is a little different from what everybody else, because all of us are on different levels as far as bringing different things to the music but with me like an extreme dancehall lover and house music, salsa music and stuff like that where as Mark 7 or Zaakir will be into real live old school soul like Marvin Gaye and Al Green, I believe my influences really show on this album. This album displays all the different facets of me from all of the different side projects I’ve done, which displays all of the different music that I like. Each song is different in that aspect because it covers all the genres of music I’m into.
AllHipHop.com: So what are we going to learn about you that we don’t already know about you?
C2: Well your gonna get a little history on my Mom and Pop and my son. I have a song called the righteous way, where basically it’s like those little Russian puzzles that are shaped like a person and you open it up and there’s another little person on the inside of that. Well that song is basically about me from that perspective. It’s about my father which is the first me and all the things that he had to go through to raise me and the second verse is about me and all of the things I had to go through to become a man and the last verse is about me as parent and all the things that I’ve had to go through to raise my son.
AllHipHop.com: I might not be a man but I can so relate to that right now, so was this kind of like a therapy session for you?
C2: Definitely, I’m glad you said it like that, I appreciate that.
AllHipHop.com: Well I understand, what’s the album called and when is it dropping?
C2: It’s called A Fish Out of Water and it should be dropping around the beginning of October.
AllHipHop.com: What are your immediate plans?
C2: Just finishing up the album I’m gonna be touring and doing some promo dates for the album and we’ve already started working on a new J5 album, we’re about 5 songs deep into that one. And you know we’re just gonna tour like crazy once that’s done, that’s what we do.
AllHipHop.com: As one of the more culturally conscious groups around would you like to share any of your opinions on the upcoming elections?
C2: Well I wrote this song with Ozomale that’s called “who’s to blame” and there’s a line it that says “while wars are waged over pathetic turf, we elect leaders with no regard for planet earth” and that’s how I feel about it right now. These cat’s aint really caring about life. They’re caring about money and things like that. I’m not a super-duper active cat when it comes to the voting process because I know people are always saying you can make a change and all that and I do believe it’s the truth in certain aspects, my thing is to what degree do we deal with the lesser of two evils.
AllHipHop.com: So what do we have to look forward to with the next J5 album?
C2: I’m happy about that because a lot of us are doing little solo projects and basically soul searching and finding themselves so when we sat down to the table to notice these five songs I was just noticing a slight change in everybody as far as the hunger and the perspective because everybody has a cool ass different perspective because each album J5 album has been approached like the further adventures of… and that’s what this one’s gonna be.
AllHipHop.com: How has J5 managed to keep it together? It seems as though crews are finding it hard to stay together these days.
C2: I really think our dynamic is more like a family than it is a bunch of homies that got together and said we gonna make some money off this rap shit. We came together first and foremost as friends that celebrated hip-hop and we all like the exact same thing so we all bonded. Even our DJ said we were the first MC’s he knew that had albums like DJs because we all love this. When it came to receiving any kind of accolades or touring and traveling outside of the country or anything like that the first people I did anything like that with was my guys and we just formed this camaraderie that was more like six brothers than six friends. You don’t always like your brother everyday but you love him forever. And that’s how it is with us. We got so much love and respect for one another that if you would ask me who are some of your favorite rappers I would have to say Zaakir, Akil, you know, those are my brothers. I think that’s what keeps us together. We have a lot of examples too to look at as far as what to and what not to do from Wu Tang and the Fugees to Goodie Mob. At lot of times people who grew up together grow to be something totally different than what they started out to be. But I love them dudes I would never walk away from them.
AllHipHop.com: You guys are kinda like Black Eyed Peas to me in the fact that I’ve known of J5 for years. Why has it taken so long for J5 to catch on do you think, cause y’all have been around for awhile
C2: I don’t know what the deal is but my whole theory on hip-hop and just music period is just like they say ain’t nothing new under the sun, so if it ain’t nothing new, everything that exists is gonna have to eventually come back around. In the late 80’s early 90’s NWA set it off for hip-hop like nobody else did, then they got a whole bunch of clones then next thing you know you got a whole bunch of cat’s blowing that whole image out of proportions as opposed to being like the West coast PE like NWA was. Them dudes was exposing a life style that no one was shedding a light on and I’m saying all that to say that every ten years or so things change and it goes back to what it was and I think maybe that’s what happened with us.