It's a good thing Will Ferrell is busy making movies.
When Jurassic 5 recruited the Malloys (Black Eyed Peas, Wolfmother) to direct their video for "Work It Out," the treatment featured Ferrell, well, working out to the song. When it became clear the actor's schedule was too packed, however, the clip went in an even better direction.
"They were like, 'Well, what if the president were working out for the video?' " Jurassic 5's Chali 2na recalled. "And we were like, 'Now that would be even sicker than Will, if we could pull that off.' "
Of course, getting George W. Bush to star in a hip-hop video is about as easy as getting him to pull the troops ... oh never mind. But the Malloys managed to get the next best thing: a really good impersonator. And not just for Bush, but Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice too.
"They were dead on, the mannerisms and everything, it was just crazy," 2na said. "We had a lot of fun behind-the-scenes moments with our own little personal cameras, just having [the impersonators] do and say little silly stuff."
What makes the "Work It Out" video such a stand-out, though, is not just the comedy in watching them jog and do calisthenics (or in Cheney's case, drive a scooter), but the video manages to subtly address many of the issues for which the administration is often criticized. For instance, Bush jogs by a group of people sitting outside the State Unemployment Board office, accidentally reveals a citizen's phone call being wiretapped, and even manages to inadvertently up the price of gas to more than $10 a gallon. And then there's the group running alongside him ... with the border patrol on its tail.
"It's pushing the envelope as well as just having fun," 2na said of the video, which features blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos from Jurassic 5. "I mean, as political as it is, more than anything it's satirical. We said, 'If we're going to be making fun of the president, what are some of the issues that we need to address right now?' So we just threw all the different topics out there."
Along with having an instantly classic video, "Work It Out" is probably Jurassic 5's most commercially accessible song ever, no doubt due to a hook courtesy of the Dave Matthews Band.
"We played with Dave Matthews a couple times, at Bonnaroo, and just kind of figured out that a lot of his fans are our fans as well," 2na said. "And we found out that he was just mad cool and he was a fan of ours as well. So when we were recording our album, Mark 7 was like, 'Man, this would be something dope if Dave Matthews sang on it. Let's send it to them and see what he thinks.' So we sent it to him and he was like, 'Yo, let's do it.' "
2na calls the track his baby on Feedback, the just-released follow-up to 2002's Power in Numbers (see "Jurassic 5 Want To Be More Than Friends With R&B Radio") and first album since Cut Chemist left to focus on his solo career. (The turntablist's first studio album, The Audience's Listening, hit stores July 11, two weeks before Feedback.)
2na said he adores the track "simply because nobody would have expected a collaboration like that. I'm not saying that Dave ain't one of the most amazing musicians, but nobody would be like, 'Yo, we gonna get Dave Matthews so we can make this a hit.' 'Cause radio probably treat Dave like how they treat us in a lot of ways. So it's more about just loving crazy collaborations."
Along with Matthews, Feedback includes an appearance from Mos Def, who lends his voice (talking, not rapping) to "Where We At."
"It's basically a sarcastic view of the people who look in on what we do, who are not necessarily into the type of hip-hop that we're doing," 2na said. "And he just basically summed it up from a mirror perspective and not from ours, 'cause we could easily be, like, talking down about them and pointing fingers. And he's telling us if anybody's pointing fingers, point it back at us, so it was cool. I loved that."
The album also includes a female duo called Brick & Lace on the second single, "Brown Girl," produced by none other than Scott Storch. (J5's own DJ Nu Mark traditionally produces their tracks.)
"A lot of people don't really know, but Scott Storch used to be one of the original members of the Roots," 2na said. "And we were trying to challenge ourselves and Scott challenged himself as well, because you wouldn't necessarily think it sounded like a Scott Storch production. So he basically had the beat and was like, 'Yo, I got these girls that I know.' ... And they came in the next day and I was blown back. Man, those girls sung. The little melody that they had, it just worked something amazing."