Famous Hip-Hop Artist Shares His Story

Last month famous painter and hip-hop artist Chali 2na visited campus, by invitation from our Black Student Union, to speak about his life story and artistry. The world-renowned member of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli soke about his career in art and music, and the issues facing our society today, and took questions from ICA Cristo Rey’s students.

One student asked Chali about harmful stereotypes in the music industry. Chali said, “Women have to be a certain way, look a certain way, [according to] media outlets. It’s not about skill. If you think about it there are a lot of ugly dudes [in hip-hop]. For women the standard is, you have to be pretty, and I don’t understand that, nor do I agree with it.”

As Chali 2na shared his story of the ups and downs his musical groups went through, our students asked about conflict resolution. “The pursuit of money, pursuit of currency can divide a family... Little jealousies decay relationship like a cavity... One thing that I always wanted to do and still want is to have fun at my job. My dad said, ‘If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ and that’s how I feel.”

Responding to an inquiry about street art today, Chali said, “It’s been a part of hip hop: DJing, MCing, breakdancing, graffiti: the only one that is older than hip-hop and not just in hip-hop is graffiti--some [people] are just tagging, but some are real artists,” referencing Banksy and Shepard Fairey. “I think now, you [have to] note that street art is a credible art… visually, I would like my art to provoke thought.”

Chali 2na also took the opportunity to share some practical advice: “One of the things you need to learn, and I hope the teachers are listening now too: if I was you I would learn how to do my own taxes.”

After the assembly, Chali said “The questions were amazing!... I liked the maturity level of the girls, especially in this day and time, with the climate in America. Their minds were engaged.”

The last student to the microphone asked if Chali would freestyle, and he happily agreed. “That was my favorite part,” Chali said. Stay tuned to our Instagram and Facebook pages for content from Chali 2na’s appearance, and learn more about Chali 2na on his website.