The festival takes to Laboma Beach, Accra this December.
Soaring high from the sonic boom their hit single Hands High, the dynamic duo formed of hip hop legend and Jurassic 5 frontman Chali 2na and award winning multi genre turntablist Krafty Kuts, are set to hit the road. Having joined forces in the studio in 2016 to produce a whole host of sonically infatuating tracks, they took to the sky and toured the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and more a year later, showcasing their unique partnership of rhythm and rhyme.
Now, following the release of Hands High, the duo are set to tour again, with a long schedule which includes dates in Bristol, Cardiff, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Brighton, Glasgow, Manchester, Guilford, Paris, Toulouse, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Zurich and more. On top of this comes their killer move, the hotly anticipated album. Hands High is just a taster of what’s to come, on the horizon is the promise of something special, re-immersing hip hop heads into a happier time.
We caught up with the duo ahead of the upcoming tour to find out what to expect from the album, their live performances, and their opinions on the current state of hip hop.
Chali 2na, your musical career started with an iconic group Jurassic 5 out of LA. What was it that fuelled your interest and pursuit of this, arguably, true pure style of hip hop?
Chali 2na: More than anything I just wanted to regurgitate the same styles of music that I loved that happened to be the purest forms of hip-hop like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Cold Crush Brothers etc. I figured I’m from the same places as these gangsta rappers wanted to describe in their music. Since they were doing it so well why shouldn’t I? I wasn’t in this to glorify anything that pertained to violence and negativity. I wanted to make music that made people happy and here we are today.
Has it been a challenge to maintain a consistent sound throughout the years, especially given how what’s prevalent has continuously evolved?
Krafty Kuts: It is always a challenge to keep up with the latest trends, fashion, styles and especially music as it’s constantly changing with all sorts of sub genres popping up. To be honest though, this is what makes it more interesting and also keeps myself on top of the game. We play good times music and try to bring a party to the table encompassing all flavours and styles, old to the new.
Chali 2na: It hasn’t been a challenge more than it’s been a major choice to chase the youth or do what you love. I chose the latter. I feel we’ve been able to solidify a very loyal fan base and so I want to continuously give back to those people who have supported me through all these years.
How did this collaboration, Hands High come about?
Krafty Kuts: We met through a mutual friend Nick Middleton (The Funk Hunters). I had a beat for Chali that I had been trying to get him to work on for ages and by coincidence, The Funk Hunters where touring the UK. I contacted Nick and asked if he wanted to bring Chali to the studio. Bang! The next day the magic was happening in the studio and Hands High was born and the rest is history.
Chali 2na: It was fun and very spontaneous how the song came to exist. Loving this process, we decided to continue and now we have Adventures of a Reluctant Superhero.
The record itself is uplifting, it’s jubilant and happy. A refreshing take of the current state of hip hop. How do you both see the scene right now, and where is it headed? Are we witnessing a resurgence of hip hop?
Krafty Kuts: There is definitely a resurgence with so many good artists constantly pushing the boundaries and even some of the older guard returning and still on top of their game. This is the beauty of hip hop, even the old stuff still sounds fresh and there have been so many classic hip hop tracks made over the years and being a DJ it makes it such an exciting genre to spin. With instrumentals and a capella etc. It allows for so much creativity.
Chali 2na: I don’t think hip hop went anywhere it’s just evolved into different branches from the same tree. That being said, the music that’s being created today by the youth is in my opinion for the youth. I can’t necessarily relate, so I can’t judge it the way someone who is involved in that scene could. But I will say we as older, more experienced, hip hop practitioners should be willing to reach out to the younger generation if nothing but to be teachers to pass down the knowledge that we possess so that they can at least do with this information what they will. But I do believe the information will influence their actions in a positive way.
In a strange way, the prevalence of the DJ has become both increasingly important and perhaps less significant with regards to new methods of consuming music. How do you see it?
Krafty Kuts: I guess it depends on which context you are looking at it, though the way I see it, the DJ plays the same role they have always done. You’re interested in a DJ because of a mixture of the music they select, and the way that they put that selection together.
From a home listening perspective, people as a whole are far more in charge of their music playlists than ever before thanks to the rise of streaming as a means of consumption. However, you might go to YouTube or Spotify looking for one thing, and then get taken down a long and winding rabbit hole to something entirely different due the suggestions given to you. That, in a very rudimental sense, is what a DJ will do for you. Where the DJ excels in this regard though is the human touch in weaving those records together, both technically and melodically.
From a live perspective I think it’s hard to argue that people would prefer to see and hear someone they can engage with rather than listen to a Spotify playlist or a mobile phone on shuffle. There is just no substitute for the interaction a DJ gives to a crowd in a performance setting.
What can we expect from the album and what can fans expect from the tour?
Krafty Kuts: We are very lucky to have some incredible collaborations like Omar, Skye (Morcheeba), The Nextmen and many more. I think people will love the superheroes vibe plus we have kept a similar vibe to our roots with funky beats and chunky baselines in full effect. We have put together a new show dropping some brand new tunes from the forthcoming LP and alongside all the classics we are vibing already and itching to showcase all this new music.
Chali 2na: You can expect our interpretation of true hip hop. You can also expect a fun time, beautiful music, great scratches, amazing beats, intricate rhyme patterns and storytelling and just a true love for the culture. I hope that the people will love what we do.
Chali 2na & Krafty Kuts will be headlining shows in the UK later this month.
11 May 2018 – Brixton Electric, London
12 May 2018 – Thekla, Bristol
13 May 2018 – Concorde 2, Brighton
16 May 2018 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
17 May 2018 – Club Academy, Manchester
18 May 2018 – O2, Sheffield
19 May 2018 – Riverside, Manchester
20 May 2018 – Stereo, Glasgow
21 May 2018 – MK11, Milton Keynes
22 May 2018 – The Boileroom, Guilford
25 May 2018 – Clwb Ifh Bach, Cardiff
26 May 2018 – Shindig Weekender, Somerset
Tickets for Chali 2na & Krafty Kuts’ UK shows are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.