YaHeard? Jurassic 5 – Quality Control

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 | News
YaHeard? Jurassic 5 – Quality Control

For me, there is one group that stands out in my hip hop education, a group that pretty much sealed the deal in making hip hop my preferred genre; that group is Jurassic 5. Way back in 1998 a friend played me “In the Flesh” and “Jayou” from their J5 Ep, instantly I was hooked, their harmonious flows and laidback old-school rhymes were infectious as anything. Then in 2000 they released Quality Control, which has become one of my all-time favourite albums and still gets regular airplay. With its funky boom-bap b-boy jams, jazzy beats and catchy hooks, Quality Control serves as a nostalgic throwback to the golden age of hip hop. The chemistry between the four emcees is unmistakeable; Akil, Marc 7even, Zaakir and Chali 2na flow effortlessly through each track, bobbing and weaving in and out of each other’s rhymes, finishing off sentences and chanting in unison with barbershop quartet-like precision. The production on the album is handled by the talented duo of DJ Numark and Cut Chemist, who use turntables, samples and MPCs to craft smooth beats that are a perfect match for the emcees rhyme styles, pasting together vintage jazz cuts with old soul and funk gems to breathe new life into old-school hip-hop.

Part of L.A.’s underground-uprising of the early 90’s, the group formed when its two halves (Unity Committee and Rebels of Rhythm) met at the legendary L.A. health store, The Good Life Cafe, where they often performed at open mic nights. Jurassic 5 celebrate the values of underground hip hop throughout the album, staying true to the roots and elements of hip hop, “L.A.U.S.D” being a fine example, with its J5 mission statement of sorts: “We are no superstars, who wanna be large and forget who we are, don’t judge us by bank accounts or big cars, no matter how bright we shine we’re far from being stars”.

Opening with the simple but funky beat of “The Influence”, the four emcees waste no time in introducing themselves before joining on the chorus, exhibiting their skill and harmony in a way that perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album. “Great Expectations” follows, and the emcees reminisce about the road they’ve travelled over horn blasts and an ever-familiar drumbeat. You can tell Jurassic 5 love making hip hop, the vibe you get from their tracks makes you want to party, case in point being “Quality Control”, one of the highlights of the album. Another fairly straightforward beat is transformed by the dope harmonies and lyrical gems from the four emcees; the track has a real laid-back party feel to it, even sounding like there was actually a party going on in the studio when it was recorded! Check out the video below:

Jurassic 5 – Quality Control

One of the things that I liked about J5 when I first heard them was the modesty that comes across in their music; they aren’t trying to be anyone in particular, they aren’t, shall I say…‘frontin’. They rap and sing positively about making the most of and enjoying everyday life. “World of Entertatinment” (AKA “W.O.E. is Me) is such a track, with the emcees laying down b-boy rhymes about their ability to rock shows;
“We was rockin a jam the other night,
J5 was on the mic so the people was hype,
Yo, we like to rock the party with adrenalin and passion,
the crowd started screamin “Action Satisfaction”,
Numark dropped the beat and the heat from the fire,
We brought the energy and streetcar named desire”
As well as offering a straight-up analysis of the life of an entertainer and the realities of the music business;
“Some are known for bein’ biters,
non-creative and wack rhyme-writers,
Yo, they soup you up but can’t rock the jam,
known to the world as a one-hit band,
Easy come, easy go, yo you had your turn,
temporary niggas touchin’ up your perm,
You see a rapper is a kid that brags and acts big,
A rhymer is a nigga that can handle his biz,
Yo, A rapper is a kid that’s tryin’ to be the shit,
An entertainer ain’t tryin’ cause he already is”

One of the strongest tracks on the album is “Jurass Finish First”, which bounces along on a simple but infectious two-chord piano riff and a massive, crystal-clear drum track. Chali 2na and Marc 7even handle the business on this, trading quick-fire rhymes and offering peace of mind to those disillusioned hip hop enthusiasts who are sick of hearing the same uninspired commercial rubbish;
“Bringing it back from the lost, we have to report,
The trash on the chart make you have to resort,
To leaving the record store instead of quenching your thirst,
But at last planet Earth, 5 Jurass finish first”
The album also features a sprinkling of well-crafted instrumental scratch and sample-based diversions from Numark and Cut Chemist, notably the interplanetary-inspired “Contact”, and the fantastic “Swing Set”, which rounds out the album with a 50’s style funk and swing freestyle, with some great vocals and change-ups; you can’t help but tap your foot to this one.

Full to the brim with dusty samples, thumping drums and scratch breaks; Cut Chemist and DJ Numark really handle the business here, they are masters of their craft, and the sound they create is unique yet strangely familiar, and well and truly built for their four talented emcees. From the MPC laden beats to the cuts and samples dropped at just the right time, it’s plainly obvious that this duo were destined to make music together. And the same has to be said about the emcees; such perfect harmonies and timing completing the Jurassic 5 sound. Although all four are talented rappers, it has to be said that Chali 2na stands out as the strongest; the self-proclaimed ‘verbal Herman Munster’ stamps authority on every track with his booming rhymes and bouncing flow. Full of party rocking tracks, “Quality Control” is a great album to chill out to over the summer party season. Coming from an era when Dilated Peoples, The Roots, Mos Def and Talib Kweli were blowing up, Jurassic 5 create this old-school b-boy sound that is incredibly fun to listen to, they’re all about rocking shows, having fun and keeping it real.  Be sure to check this album out if you haven’t heard it, and if you have, bust it back out again for a quick refresher on old-school hip hop jams.

Check out more Jurassic 5 at their site
or on their myspace

Peace
…cracked

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