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Jurassic Five

Our critics' picks in new releases


Jurassic 5, like the name implies, comes fly with a blast from the past ... old school hip hip for that ass. Consisting of two DJs and four emcees, what the J-5 lack in math, they make up for in music and history. Jurassic conjures classics, like young lions in jazz who manage to capture the spirit of the masters while simultaneously advancing the craft.

On Quality Control, their debut CD, the Jurassic 5 harmonize and texturize rhyme deliveries, flowing effortlessly over an alchemy of funk, break beats, and jazz snippets crafted by the Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark. Emcees Akil, Chali 2NA, Marc 7 and Zaakir trade lines, combine and finish each other's verses with the dynamism of rap pioneers like Double Trouble and the Cold Crush Brothers. The homage is intentional, sometimes subtle, like when they kick rhymes in cadences recognizable from old-school rap classics (W.O.E. Is Me). If you listen closely, you'll also hear overt declarations of their influences, like on "Monkey Bars," when they flip:

You know us but its not the Cold Crush

Four emcees so we ain't The Furious

Not the Force MCs, or the Three from Treacherous

It's a blast from the past from the moment we bust.

Of course their sense of retrospection is not limited to late '70s New York, hip-hop's primordial period. The member of Jurassic 5 all have roots in Los Angeles, and cut their teeth during the West Coast's underground heyday, at the Good Life Cafe where they met (eventually becoming a group in '93). The Good Life, a legendary haven for poets, emcees and open-mic junkies, existed in the early '90s as counterpoint to the whole gangsta scene, which had commercially captured hip-hop, and served as an incubator for such noteworthy groups as The Pharcyde and Freestyle Fellowship. Jurassic represents that legacy to the fullest, while forging ahead with material timely for 2000. Packed with team rhyme schemes, and beats that steam, Jurassic 5 is bringing quality control to the game--remember the name.

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