Rock the Bells is the only hip-hop festival in North America — and the tour’s stopping off at Red Rocks on Thursday.
The all-day festival features some of the top rappers in the country, and each tour stop features a new combination of artists.
Denver’s Rock the Bells lineup will feature sets by Nas & Damian Marley, Big Boi, Chali 2na, House of Pain, Busta Rhymes, KRS-One, RZA and Slum Village. Other tour stops have featured sets by Ice Cube, The Roots and Mos Def.
Chali 2na is the alter ego of Charlie Stewart, and the rapper has built a career with his rhyming and artistic skills. The hip-hop artist’s performed with everyone from Ozomatli to Jurassic 5, and he’s ready to take on the crowd at Red Rocks.
“Being on Rock the Bells has been amazing,” Stewart said. “I’m a fan of a bunch of these cats on the tour. I grew up listening to them — and I’m like, ‘Wow!'”
“It’s very exciting to be on this tour, because I feel like we’re all paying homage to this artform.”
Stewart’s also hitting the road to promote his new CD, Fish Outta Water.
Fish Outta Water dropped July 7 and highlights guest artists Talib Kweli, Beenie Man and Damian and Stephen Marley. The record features Stewart’s booming raps and some pretty interesting beats.
“I’ve been trying to put this record out for a few years,” Stewart said. “I had been doing all these side projects, so I didn’t have a chance to get to my own album.
“A lot of people identify me with all the groups I’ve been part of, but there’s more than meets the eye with my music. I went into my solo album with a theme in mind, which was to let you know more about me than just my work in Jurassic or Ozomatli.”
Stewart’s busy with his hip-hop career, but he’s also grabbing some attention with his artwork.
“I’ve been painting a lot,” Stewart said. “I’ve been painting the whole time I was into hip-hop. I started out as a graffiti artist and I went beyond that to do posters and stuff.
“I’ve also been getting into oil painting and I’m learning a lot of new stuff. I’m even thinking about having a gallery show.”
Who: Rock the Bells, with Chali 2na, Nas & Damian Marley, Big Boi, KRS-One and more
When: 1 p.m. Thursday
Where: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison