Once upon a time, hip-hop had nothing to do with bi-coastal rivalries, guns
or big cars. In that not-so-distant day, hip-hop was about DJs and MCs
wowing crowds in parks and on playgrounds with breaks, beats and rhymes.
DJ Nu-Mark and his crew in Jurassic 5 -- though part of a different age --
see themselves as stewards of that tradition.
"We're picking up where old school left off, and not just old, old school,
not just Sugar Hill, but bands like Main Source," said DJ Nu-Mark, 26, who
dropped out of school only a couple units short of becoming a fully
qualified X-ray technician. "We try to reflect the different eras that felt
good to us."
Jurassic 5, of Los Angeles, recently released their first EP, bearing the
cryptic title EP, on their own Rumble/Pickininny label. Initially
two separate crews, the 5, who are actually six members, evolved from the
group Rebels of Rhythm and Unity Committee. The members, who go by their
rap pseudonyms, refused to give their real names.
"Akil and Zaakir were in Rebels of Rhythm, and I used to hang with Unity
but I wasn't in it. We all used to hang out at The Good Life, which is
like an open mic spot where you got to sign in to do raps. We used to trip
out on each other's styles and then we got together to do 'Unified
Rebelution,' " said Nu-Mark of the band's progression.
Building on the strengths of both bands, Jurassic 5 have developed a sound
as fun as it is unique.
One of the standout tracks on the EP is
Schoolyard"(RealAudio excerpt), a song designed to conjure a
nostalgia for swimming trunks and times spent sipping lemonade on the porch
out of even the greatest of sentimental misers. In keeping with the band's
participatory nature, each bandmember chimes in or drops a beat into the
"Rap is engulfed in a negative state, with people talking about the crime
on the street. We try to display the flip side, like the energy from a
nice party, when you have fun. Then we sprinkle the stew with things that
are going on," said 27-year-old Chali 2na, so dubbed by his father after
observing Chali's excessive childhood interest in a Starfish Tuna
commercial featuring Charlie The Tuna.
Perhaps the most refreshing sonic element of the Jurassic 5 debut EP is the
crew's tendency to work as a solid unit. These tracks highlight the group's skills alone by taking time to showcase the talents of each member, whether it be Chali 2na's deep bass navigating through tricky rhyme waters -- "They call me tuna/ as in fish in sea/ self-efficiency/ that's my mission see" on
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Jurassic_5/In_The_Flesh.ram">"In The Flesh"
Flesh"(RealAudio excerpt) -- or Cut Chemist's sample of a dowdy
professor droning his way through a list of the elements on
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Jurassic_5/Lesson_6.ram">"Lesson 6: The Lecture"
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Jurassic_5/Lesson_6.ram">"Lesson 6: The
"Hip-hop's supposed to be about the party, establishing the good feeling of
the music," DJ Nu-Mark said. "We want people to get their day started to
our music, we want people eating Rice Chex in the morning to our music.
It's not for listening to before a drive-by." [Wed.,
Feb. 11, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]