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Jurassic Five are a hip-hop group who formed in LA, California from two hip-hop groups, 'The Rebels of Rhythm' and 'Unity Committee' and as such some refer to themselves as The Rebels Of Rhythm And Unity. The group consists of four MCs and originally two DJs although at times they have been known to not feature the full complement of artists. The rappers are very different in style, the best in my opinion is 'Chali 2na' (pronounced Charlie Tuna) who favours a very linguistic and complex style with a very deep tone and delivery. The next strongest is MC is probably Mark 7even (pronounced Mark Seven) and akil and Zaakir make up the third and fourth members respectively. The DJs are 'Cut Chemist' and 'DJ Nu-Mark' and are thought of as some of the industries top hip-hop DJs.
The band favour an intelligent style which veers far from rap's gangster stereotypes and they prefer to focus on their skills as rappers and unified harmony as a group. They very rarely curse and talk of violence and typical rap clichés almost never. They are quite a breath of fresh air in terms of their approach and are a great advert for the universal appeal of certain branches of hip-hop.
This album, Power In Numbers is the group's third studio album and actually did well in the US mainstream, reaching #15 in the Billboard Charts.
=== The Album ===
[Track 1 - This Is]
This is basically an intro. The album is opened by a little female vocal sample and a Cut Chemist bassline which builds up the ambience before the following track...
[Track 2 - Freedom]
The beat is of quite a slow tempo with a loud kick drum and a funky, chilled sample. The first vocals of the album are clear and concise, very characteristic of J5. The song is pretty soulful and the beat simplistic but the vocals are stylish, especially Chali 2na's, his vocals stand out head and shoulders above the members. A good track and a nice one to kick back to.
[Track 3 - If You Only Knew]
The song opens with a piano and a snare drum which lay out the beat which is forthcoming. There is a flute in the background and the rappers switch the lyrics amongst themselves and share the verses. Some of the verses are a little weaker than others but 2na and 7even's verses make up for the shortcomings of their compatriots. Once again, quite a minimalistic beat with an easy-going vibe.
[Track 4 - Break]
This track opens at slighter higher tempo with another bumping kick/snare combination from the drums and a quicker delivery with the lyrics. The rhyme schemes are strong and the actual rhymes are frequent and the chorus hits with a funkiness that gives the track some real positive notes. The guitar/bassline samples are quite 70s which gives the track a cool vibe and the drumbeat continues throughout to maintain a pace to the track.
[Track 5 - React]
The track is a short instrumental insert with bizarre American media samples over a simple keyboard and drum loop but it serves as a decent interlude to lead up the following track.
[Track 6 - A Day At The Races]
This track features are prominent bassline which dictates the flow of the track overall and the rapping is done at quite an enjoyable tempo. The song features 'Big Daddy Kane' and the lesser known 'Percee P' as guest MCs. The beat is minimal apart from the bassline really and the focus is on the lyrics with each vocalist presenting a well-written, well-delivered verse. the guests are good and overall the track is a goood demonstration of the group's skill, especially in the last couple of verses where they really up the ante on the comlexity of the rhymes. The best so far.
Best lyrics - (Mark 7)
Aimsteady, slash machete, Mazeratti, engine ready
Good and plenty, dont be petty, count the fetti and we jetting...
(OFF) to another city where we do our nitty gritty
cos we're wild like Serengeti, tear it down lets seek and set it...
[Track 7 - Remember His Name]
A church bell chimes out and then other sounds drown it out, such as radio chatter and their are telephone calls which help to make up the structure of the verses. The background sample isn't very pleasant and the drumbeat is simple. The verses are reasonable and the idea for the track is good but it doesn;t really seem to work. It has it merits but the track isn't very much fun to listen to. They weakest so far by far.
[Track 8 - What's Golden]
Back on top form already. A resonating bassline and proper hip-hop drum beat set the scene for one of the album tracks which was released as a successful single. The vocals are good, as is the chorus. The group work well together on this track and it's clear to see why it was a succesful single.
Best Lyrics - Its close but its gotta be (Chali 2na)
Well it's the verbal Herman Munster, The word enhancer
sick of phoney mobsters controlling the dancefloor
I've been in dark places, catch you when you're stark naked,
Your heart races as we bump you for your chart spaces
Music Video @ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohi8NlxjtTQ)
[Track 9 - Thin Line]
This track features the vocals of Nelly Furtado, before she had her comeback I hasten to add. The drums are prominent and the beat is very little else besides infrequent single notes until the chorus is reached. The rappers catch their breath a little on this track an bring the tempo down a notch or two but they deserve a break after all the pace of the last few tracks. Furtado sings well and while the chorus isn't great her voice sounds fine and whilst you wouldn't expect to find her on this record she does well enough to get my vote. A decent track but definitely not the best.
[Track 10 - After School Special]
A young child opens the track asking the band about their new album and says he wants to be on it. Then the beat drops with a fresh and funky style and Chali 2na opens with a great verse to the backdrop of a jazz trumpet. This song is quintessentially hip-hop and is a direct demonstration of skills once again.
[Track 11 - High Fidelity]
Another kick/snare combo makes up the beat and there is another strange flute sample amongst other background instruments. The lyrics and vocals are very strong once again in another impressive track. Some nice moves from the DJ with decent scratching and use of verbal samples on the beat. The chours is a roper chorus since all four members sing it in unison.
[Track 12 - Sum Of Us]
Proabably the best track on the album with some insane lyrics and delivery and a good quality beat. Heavy drum beat once again and Chali 2na destroys the track (in a good way) with some of his best lyrics ever. The rhymes are so frequent it will surpirse you the number of rhymes that there actually available for some of the group's lyrics. The beat becomes almost obsolete when the rappers are putting on this kind of display and the simple fact is that the vocals are impressive more than anything else.
Best Lyrics - (Chali 2na}
We ripple the water frequently, blink if we show delinquencey
Please! Human frequencies have been diseased,
a breeze... aint what I'm feeling, healing is essential
mental aggravation shows you what we've been through.
[Track 13 - DDT]
The track name refers to the pesticide and the track is an acapella poem juggled in a strange style with some impressive skills. A short track but it has it's appeal.
[Track 14 - One Of Them]
A very sinister beat with an icy feeling and a slightly aggressive angle. Easily the closest the group comes to gangster rap. A little less intelligent than a lot of the other tracks but it still has strengths with decent raps. Probably the only track that would get edited if it was on TV. A few curses but it doesn't bother me anyway, and if it bothers you, I'm sure you can forgive one track.
[Track 15 - Hey]
A drifting sample opens the beat accompanied by an unnamed vocalist naming star signs until the drums kick in and the beat gets its true vibe. A laid back jam with a soulful delivery in the vocals and theyre back to what I expect from J5. Intelligent and skillful raps backed up by some solid beats to chill to.
[Track 16 - I Am Somebody]
A funk intro, especially the bassline and energetic lyrics make this track quite a lively one. A vibrant, shouty chorus as far as J5 go and the rest of the vocals are used up to empty the tank on the penultimate track. A decent track and whilst it doesn't take the prize as the best it is certainly memorable.
Best Lyrics - (Chali 2na) Again
Who's to say if I choose to make moves today
Whether I win or lose or I end up on the news today
Amuse but never confuse, still got dues to pay
You abuse elegant rules when you use clichés
[Track 17 - Acetate Prophets]
A decent instrumental track to close the album with a bit of stage action at the beginning then a thumping drum beat and a creative use of vocal samples and some interesting displays of tricks with the turntables. A good way to finish the album off, sort of plays the album out.
=== Overall ===
Overall this is a really good hip-hop album and with the exception of one or two tracks, is one which you could play your children or your Grandma. the vocal quotes I have put in the article don't even nearly do the rappers justice as the timing and clarity of the lyrics are second to none. As far as skill and dedication goes, J5 are near the top of the game. The album has very few weak links and does have some really good tracks.
With 17 tracks and a running time of just short of an hour the album gives good value for money. It can be bought from Play.com for £9.99 but I found it on Amazon.co.uk for Under £6 and on Ebay for less than £5.
The group a refreshing in the fact taht they are unconventional as rappers and don't conform to the clichés and bravado that comes with most rap. I'm not necessarily saying that other artists don't have their own, different merits but J5 have their own niche and create a very positive brand of Hip-Hop. They have obviously refined their skills as a group and the group mentality shows through in many of the tracks where the lyricist work together to create some nice vocal harmonies and well-constructed verses.
if you ppreciate hip-hop but don't like some of its sentiments, then these are the guys for you. If you like intelligent structure and a vocabulary in your rap then same again. J5 have a wide appeal and a number of strengths that set them apart from a lot of competing acts and this album, whilst not their best album is a fine example of what Hip Hop can sound like when the effort is put in.
also posted on www.ciao.co.uk
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 This Is
3 If You Only Knew
6 A Day At The Races (feat. Big Daddy Kane & Percy P)
7 Remember His Name
9 Thin Line (feat. Nelly Furtado)
10 After School Special
11 High Fidelity
12 Sum Of Us
14 One Of Them (Feat. JuJu of the Beatnuts)
16 I Am Somebody
17 Acetate Prophets