Direct Effect: Jurassic 5 Break Out Of The Underground

After a bus accident cut short their run on this summer's Vans Warped Tour, rappers Jurassic 5 returned to the road for their Word of Mouth tour focused on one goal.

"Whatever we do, we make sure our show is tight," J5's Zaakir told MTV News from the road. "We've got to be like the old cats back in the day that made you want to come and see the show, and continue to see the show, and stay there." [RealVideo]

These days, the group is managing to do that on several fronts. J5's tour with Dilated Peoples and Beat Junkies is selling out shows coast to coast, and the group recently put a stranglehold on the "Direct Effect" viewers' video championship belt for five straight days, vanquishing the Wu-Tang Clan, Shyne and Jay-Z in the process.

While rising from the underground to the mainstream, J5 are trying to lead the way for an emerging hip-hop movement that relies more

on live performance and artistry than on image and ice.

"I'm hoping that we can get to a place where the positivity that we emit is commonplace, like how the icy jewelry and all that stuff is commonplace now," the group's Chali 2na said. "We're just try to be us, hoping that the showmanship, the creativity and the time and effort that we put into our music will flood out of the cup and spread to everyone else."

The Los Angeles group got its first big break in 1998 with an appearance on the Lyricist Lounge: Volume One album, which featured J5's single "Jayou." The single and subsequent Jurassic 5 EP were embraced by an emerging international fanbase, and the group soon found its music on record shelves next to trip-hop, breakbeat and jungle artists, unlike J5's mainstream counterparts.

"Europe embraces music that started from here. Like, embraces it,"

Chali said. "Jazz is huge over there, and you can't get a jazz gig in America."

Fueled by its grassroots success, the group signed with Interscope Records in late 1999, and put together a debut LP, Quality Control, that offers a heavily melodic mix of synchronized rhymes and top-notch turntablism.

All signs point to the underground outfit not remaining underground for long, which would be just fine with J5.

"I truly feel that every underground MC wants everybody to hear their stuff, so if it's Puffy playing on the radio 24,000 times a day — they want to be there, too," Chali said.