In the 90’s, painter and rappper Chali 2na was making a name for himself across two separate musical platforms; He was a rapper in a hip-hop group called Jurassic 5 as well as the Latin, hip-hop, rock band known as Ozomatli. Playing shows around LA for the latter is what lead to him being side-by-side with Drew Barrymore in a major motion picture movie.
Ozomatli was formed in 1995 featuring Chali 2na as well as Cut Chemist of Jurassic 5. The group was known to play shows all around Los Angeles into the celebrity filled neighborhood showcases of the Hollywood strip.
“Drew Barrymore was an Ozomatli fan and use to come to the gigs,” 2na tells The Pier. “Sometimes you’d know she was there, a lot of the times you wouldn’t know. We use to have a residency in Hollywood at this place called the Dragon Fly. At the end of the night the bouncer would tell us about the movie stars that’d come through. We played 4 or 5 Thursdays in a row and we would see her. She’d show up and say to hi to everybody.”
The 1999 film Never Been Kissed starred Drew Barrymore alongside David Arquette, Molly Shannon, Michael C. Reilly, Jessica Alba, Criss Williams & I believe James Franco even has a small role at the start of his career. The plot of the movie centers around Drew Barrymore’s character, Jose Geller, a insecure 25-year-old copy-editor for the Chicago Sun-Times who has never had a relationship and has Never Been Kissed. She goes undercover as a High School student on assignment by her editor to report on the day-to-day happenings of students in High School.
[Related: Chali 2na Exclusive Interview]
While working on the film, Barrymore had an idea for a scene in the movie where she goes to a see live band with the students and accidentally gets high. When it came to decide on which band would make a cameo in her movie, she called a band she would see on the regular; she called Ozomatli.
“She worked it out so we could be in the movie, so we can get paid and to use a couple of our songs. We get on set and there’s fucking Jessica Alba, then there’s Criss Williams–he was actually at a lot of Ozomatli shows all the time! Cool ass dude, he use to be on ‘Living Single’ and now he plays ‘Black Lightening’ on CW. He was cool as hell, Jessica Alba was cool as hell and gorgeous! Yeah, it was dope.”
The scene shows Barrymore’s character unknowingly eating weed brownies before jumping on stage and hilariously dancing next to Chali 2na while the band plays during the scene at a club.”We probably did that take about 5 times,” 2na recalls. “And each time Drew Barrymore did it, she did something different. That’s what was dope. Each time it got funnier and funnier and funnier! [Haha] You just didn’t know what she was gonna do next!”
Watch: Never Been Kissed Movie Clip – “Josie Gets Stoned” (1999)
The movie soundtrack ended up featuring two Ozomatli songs, “Cut Chemist Suite” and “Cumbia de los Muertos.” Never Been Kissed is a total rom-com, chick-flick that can be enjoyed as a guilty pleasure on a Tuesday night. The movie has its funny moments and as of this publish, its available for stream on Disney+. Go see if you can spot a young Chali 2na on stage laughin’ at a goofy Drew Barrymore playing Josie Geller.
According to 2na, there was another scene that Ozomatli shot, but it was left out of the movie. “We were seeing residuals from that for years,” 2na concludes. “Sometimes I’d open up a check and it’d say “$63 from Never Been Kissed” and I’m like “Oh Word!” [Haha]
If you’re lucky, there may still be a copy of Chali 2na’s debut album, Fish Outta Water, on Vinyl with guest appearances by Damian Marley, Stephen Marley, Beenie Man, Talib Kwelli and more. See if you can still grab your copy by clicking HERE!
Chali 2na Website
Article By: Mike Patti
Watch: Never Been Kissed (1999) Official Trailer