Who cares about Jurassic 5? You haven’t heard them on the radio, you haven’t seen their videos on 106 and Park and you haven’t seen their name while consulting Billboard’s Top 10 lists. “You” is the average music fan. “You” is even the average hip-hop fan who’s acquired his taste from conventional media outlets like MTV.
“You” should also be sure to check out Jurassic 5 at St. Andrews Hall tomorrow. Touring in conjunction with the release of their latest album, Power in Numbers, Jurassic 5 provide both their devoted fans and the uninitiated with an opportunity to hear hip-hop in one of its finest forms. Contrary to KRS-One’s notion that “the real hip-hop is over,” there is no better way to describe the music J5 makes.
Six men who, by their own admission are “trying to take hip-hop back to its primitive state,” J5 are a group reminiscent of old-school b-boys and hip-hop’s playful roots. With tightly constructed rhymes, creative beats, and unparalleled group chemistry, J5 seduces listeners with an energy and charisma that excite live audiences wanting to be thrilled by an exemplary effort.
The quality of a J5 show is further enhanced by how easily their music translates to the live format. The group’s first two works, an eponymous EP and the debut LP Quality Control, are distinguished by the group’s harmonizing and playful interaction. In concert, these qualities of their music serve to humanize the emcees, transforming them from amorphous voices on a record into familiar friends on the stage. For instance, fans of the older “Concrete Schoolyard” or the newer “If You Only Knew” will delight in the spontaneous harmonic variations offered by the group.
Hip-hop fans can also anticipate a healthy display of DJ skills courtesy of J5’s Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist. Whether in the studio or in concert, both men make the most of the venue. In the lab, the producers are able to weave together melodies and sounds into organized tracks. While all the amenities of the studio can’t be brought on the road, neither must the constraints of making a coherent song. Resultantly, both gentlemen take advantage of this freedom and scratch their way into the favor of fans who are routinely impressed by how much can be done with two turntables and some records.
The group’s intelligent creativity further manifests itself and astounds the crowd as experimental songs like “Acetate Prophets” are recreated through efforts like the group’s emcees spinning those colorful children’s tubes meant to emit varying sounds based on how quickly they are spun. In sum, the group’s fervor to perform well – appearing in all its forms – endears J5 to its audience and does not disappoint.
As if seeing real hip-hop’s champions were not an attractive-enough prospect, fans will also want to be at St. Andrews tomorrow to see the Beatnuts and Ann Arbor’s Athletic Mic League. The Beatnuts will no doubt perform fan favorites like “Watch Out Now” and “Off the Books” while also promoting their new record, The Originators. The Mic League will be at St. Andrews to establish themselves with a wider range of hip-hop heads perhaps unfamiliar with the talented magnificent seven. So, who cares about J5? Well, everyone should now.