Pop: Jurassic 5's monster success
Saturday 16 May 1998
Part of a resurgent independent hip-hop scene in the US, Jurassic 5 are miles away from superstar rap-clap. They offer a glorious mix of harmonising, rapping, samples and beats from every musical style, meshed into one uplifting soundscape. J5 don't brag or boast but neither do they hold back from taking the downright piss out of their targets in a sharp, humorous style.
At times it sounds as if there's a massive collective at work here but it's the work of only six people: DJs Numark and Cut Chemist plus MCs Chali 2na, Zaakir, Akil and Mark 7even.
"You know," says Chali 2na, "you can be angry and be humorous. My mom always told me to fight fire with water rather than with fire. With us, it's all about the music as long as we can have unity, have a good show and keep hip-hop alive." Zaakir expounds his dissatisfaction with what the big labels have done with hip-hop: "Their format is guns, bitches and brews but it should be more about just letting yourself go and enjoying the music." Cut Chemist continues, "Now it's big business. Everyone's after the money and that's why people are getting shot and hip-hop is dying within the industry. Back in the days when De La Soul broke there were crews, but now everyone is going solo for the money. But LA has crews again and it could all still resurface as it's about the beats, the lyrics and the culture without it being diluted by money."
On top of the intricate lyricism from the four MCs comes an unrivalled inventiveness from the decks. When asked where the DJs look for inspiration, Cut Chemist weighs in with "Polka records are best." It's a remark that sets DJ Numark in motion. "Yeah, the new Technics have got 78 speed, so the polka records are jumping right off those decks now. Yeah! Every weekend we go down the skating rinks and bowling alleys to hear those old-time DJs playing polka and we clean 'em out, but that's another interview - we have to go to Honest Jon's."
While J5 slip off to the record shop to accumulate all sorts of vinyl weirdness, the rest of us will be able to check out the fruits of their labour when their debut album hits the racks on 1 June.
It's the sound of the summer. Don't miss it.
Jurassic 5: Dingwall's, Camden Lock, NW1 (0171-267 0545) 18 May
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