A little over a year ago, Rap vet Chali 2na released his proper solo release, Fish Outta Water, to middling results. Lacking both the quality production, cohesion, and vision of his releases as a member of the Jurassic 5, 2na aims to prove he can be a successful solo artist with his sequel to the 2004 mixtape Fish Market.
Fish Market Part 2 kicks things off with the “Fintro,” which promises with its synth keys something epic. Unfortunately, the intro is significantly more hype than the cuts that follow it, the forgettable “FM2 Theme” and “Greezy.” Eventually, the stylings of Reggae artist Tanya Stephens catch the ear on “No Bad Mon,” attesting further to 2na’s appreciation of the genre. The cut will have speakers thumping as the groove, complete with guitar strums and organs paves the way for the J5 alum to come in with his trademark voice and flow. Unfortunately, the momentum gained is just as quickly lost with the useless skit that follows the song.
“Hype 2night” is vintage Chali 2na, with some light but funky guitar, and the rapper’s signature lyricism: “Top shotta / I gotta say I’m in my spot to stay / Because the word piece is not for play, not today …while other kids envelop in this plastic syndrome / And the devils and the government, we crash the system / I’m a…lyrical genius when the scene gets hot / And my English will extinguish their fiendish plots / What does it mean when the King is shot? / Another king in the game, come claim his spot.”
“Step Yo Game Up” is replete with cheese, as the beat begs you to mock its delusions of epic grandeur, but is quickly forgotten when X-Clan joins in on the aptly-titled “Funky For You.” Rappers take note: this track is an excellent example of what having a unique and distinguishable voice can do for your music. “Across the Map,” which features J-Live, is another gem, is another gem. The production on this one is worthy of the rappers’ lyricism, as its use of the major pentatonic scale elicits the late ’90s obsession with Eastern-sounding beats (think Gang Starr’s “Above the Clouds”).
Weighing in at a ludicrous 22 tracks, Fish Market Part 2’s problem is very easily diagnosed: there’s far too much fat. A leaner effort, anywhere between nine and 12 would’ve served Part 2 greatly – not only in maintaining higher levels of quality, but also making things tighter in terms of unified concept and cohesion.
Billed as a “mixtape CD,” it’s difficult to determine to what standard Fish Market Part 2 ought to be held. If it’s a mixtape, it’s pretty much of the standard fare: a handful of standout cuts filled with a tremendous amount of filler in between. As far as albums go, the same issues that plagued Fish Market affect this release, which is a shame, given Chali 2na’s considerable talent.