Forgotten Treasure: Chi-Ali “The Fabulous” (1992)
There are some records that are such a part of my youth that I buy them compulsively in multiple copies and in all formats. The Fabulous Chi-Ali by Chi-Ali released in ’92 on Relativity Records is one of my all-time favourites and I buy it whenever I see it, whether it’s on CD, Cassette or Vinyl.
Chi-Ali, the youngest member of the Native Tongues (De La Soul, ATCQ, Jungle Brothers, Black Sheep) was 16 when his first and only album was released, and only 14 when he started recording it. I would venture to say that it might be the best ever for a kid rapper in the 90’s, along with Shyheim’s AKA the Rugged Child.
The album has also stood the test of time on the strength of the outstanding production by The Beatnuts who used a staggering amount of high-profile samples on it: Miles Davis, Kool & the Gang, James Brown, Gary Bartz to only name a few. Makes you wonder if the label actually cleared all of them!
The first single and biggest commercial hit, Age Ain’t Nothing But A #, was also the only track produced by the Black Sheep’s Mista Lawnge. Once again a well crafted combination of amazing samples (Roy Ayers’ We Live In Brooklyn + Stanley Turrentine and 3 other samples)
This is the “Puberty Mix” of Roadrunner, which always made me laugh as a name for a remix. But considering that Chi-Ali originally made the record (and the original version of Roadrunner) when he was 14 and this remix when he was 16 or 17, it makes total sense. So on this remix, deeper voice Chi is produced by A Tribe Called Quest sampling the Donald Byrd classic “Think Twice”. One more heavyweight sample.
Same idea as the previous single, the “Funky Lemonade Remix” is a remix with Chi’s deeper teenager voice. Produced by The Beatnuts featuring Guru’s classic line “Lemonade was a popular drink and it still is”
Some of you may have heard that in 2000, Chi-Ali was convicted of murder and ended up serving 12 years for a charge of first degree manslaughter. If you want to know more about it, I suggest you take a look at the interview below.
He is now an activist against gun violence and is now also making music again. You can follow him at @ChiAliBX
via VladTV: “Famed 90s rapper Chi Ali opens up about the murder he committed in 2000, and explains why he went on the run from New York after everything happened. Chi also speaks on his time on the run and explains how his actions affected the Raymond family.”