Back in his elementary school days, rapper Chali 2na — the charismatic MC best known for his work with Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli — loved to draw. He’d spend lunchtime creating customized mini-comics to sell to his classmates for a buck each, which later led to exploring graffiti art.
“That’s what got me into hip hop,” Chali 2na, born Charles Stewart, explained Thursday while painting a mural at Grand View Boulevard Elementary School as part of ongoing PTA beautification efforts.
His mural is the eighth added to the campus in the past two years, Grand View PTA Vice President Tonya King said. Each features the school mascot, a dragon. Sticking with the theme, Chali 2na painted three — an Asian dragon, an Aztec dragon and the kind found in European lore.
The choice “respects the diversity of the school,” he said.
A regular with the House of Vibe All-Stars at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica, Chali 2na had been asked to paint by the wife of band leader Anthony “Brew” Brewster. The baritone rapper, who drew the art for Jurassic 5 singles “Unified Rebelution” and “After School Special,” plans to include the dragon mural in a book of his art being published next year.
Jurassic 5 celebrated its 20th anniversary this year with a worldwide tour, and Chali 2na hinted behind the scenes that they were already working on some new material.
“The kids might not know who he is, but as soon as he started to paint they flocked to him,” Grand View Parent Center representative Karrie Roy said. — Michael Aushenker