Friday, 13 August 2010

Chali 2na - Fish Market 2

Fish Market 2 is, unsurprisingly, the follow up to 2009's Fish Market, from ex-Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli member Chali 2na. It's the bass-voiced emcee's third solo LP, and Fish Market 2 is a sprawling 22 track tapestry, mixing up club bangers, with some jazzier J5-sounding cuts and even a dancehall track. There's also few skits chucked in for good measure, but (as usual with skits) they don't add much.

High Points

On the down side, there's no clear structure to the album - sprawling really is the best word to describe it. If I was feeling less generous, then indulgent wouldn't be too wide of the mark either. Track one is 'Fintro' followed by the 'FM Theme', so we're five minutes in before we get to a proper song, and 'Greezy' isn't exactly the strongest on the album.

No Bad Mon is a good reggae/dancehall effort though, with a strong guest spot from Tanya Stephens. Fish Market 2 doesn't really get into gear until around the half way mark though, when Step Yo Game Up bursts onto the scene. A real thumping track that sounds like it should be playing behind the menu screens of NBA 2011 on X-box (and probably is). It's 2na at his most accessible and mainstream, with its big beat and ostentatious brass flourishes. That's followed by Funky For You, featuring New Yorkers X-Clan, a more chilled out, classic 2na sound.

The Verdict

Fish Market 2 is overlong at 22 tracks. There's a core of good material there, but it needs a good editor to cut it down to size, and reign in some of 2na's excesses.

I'll make no bones about it though, I love listening to Chali 2na. He has such a distinctive voice, he really is a guy I could listen to reciting the phonebook and not get bored. So to my mind, if Fish Market 2 suffers from anything, it's underusing this prize asset. Of the 22 tracks on the album, half feature other vocalists sharing the limelight, and it seemed like 2na was probably too accommodating to his guests. Be more selfish, it's your name on the front Chali, we want to hear you!

Final Score: 61%


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