The moment was ripe for renewal. In the center of the stage was a huge, almost cartoonish turntable anchored by the Jurassic 5 logo in its center. Scratches are heard from DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist, the beat drops and Zaakir emerges, mic in hand, followed by Chali 2na’s distinct, baritone cadence. Then Marc 7 and Akil join the onstage theatrics and for a moment it felt like 1997 all over again. Not bad for a group that called it quits in 2007. This was 2013 and like David Bowie once said: “It was alright...the band was back together.”
Jurassic 5 was in fact formed of six members; two DJs/Producers coupled with four distinct rappers who, when performing sequences simultaneously, was perfectly tempered, making their early releases stand above the experimental rap that was burgeoning at the time. They weren’t throwback or old school, but they embodied a nostalgic sound that was also at once fresh. Their first release, The Jurassic 5 EP, had songs like “Concrete Schoolyard” and “Jayou”, quickly turned heads to their relaxed yet detailed sound. It also contained “Lesson 6: The Lecture”, an instrumental opus that underscored the group’s deep production value. Fans worldwide became aware of J5’s dynamic stage show during this era.
Their next release, a gold selling Quality Control, was a more fully realized effort which was a charting album on the Billboard Charts, peaking at #43 and largely introduced them to the masses worldwide. Tracks like “Quality Control”, “Jurass Finish First” and “Swing Set” – became the group’s signature sound, a development of intricate yet simple back-and-forth group dynamics accompanied by deep rooted production from Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark. As momentum snowballed, their next effort, Power in Numbers produced “Day At The Races” featuring legendary Big Daddy Kane and a Hip Hop classic entitled “What’s Golden” which led the group to performances on national television including Conan Obrien and David Letterman.
Feedback (released and distributed worldwide by Interscope) both reached #15 on the Billboard Charts in 2006, would be their last official outing, as Cut Chemist left to pursue solo works. They toured the globe, made fans internationally while many rediscovered their back-catalogue. A year later, the group parted ways. In the years in between, their lore grew on soundtracks and in video games. Members’ solo efforts were well received. Given that everyone left amicably, a reunion was always possible, and yielded two huge European tours when it finally did. A performance at Japan’s Fuji Rock was particularly praised which led to more large-scale North American tour-stops. It had been sixteen years since their “playground tactics, the rabbit in a hat trick” and not a beat had skipped.
The six-member tribe, now of age and full of know-how, are reaching a stage in their career where their full rise will be marked in an upcoming documentary feature currently in the works. This March J5 will tour Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. In June they are back in Europe for a 3 week run...Then in July and August, their spectacular ‘Word Of Mouth’ Tour featuring Dilated Peoples, The World Famous Beat Junkies and MC Supernatural.
As DJ Nu-Mark aptly told the LA Times before their reunion at Coachella, this right here is a “Rebirth”.