One listen to J5’s Power In Numbers and you understand why the Earthquake State is rocking. Hot like fever and funky like stank, their latest represents the grit and grime of the underground while sweetly embracing the overground. As Nu-Mark boasts, “We have one of best, if not the best records out this year.” Don’t sleep. Flashes of Pharcyde, Public Enemy and De La Soul collide with streaks of Common, Q-Tip and Shock-G. Take a trip down their track listing.

1. This Is

“Sound-wise and production-wise the new record is a bigger record. We caught up on a lot of things that we needed to do better. Put more bass in it. It’s more mature and focused. We recorded a lot of it at Nu-Mark’s studio. It was a more friendly, relaxed environment. That’s why we got the quality of work that we got out of this record.”–Marc 7 “We wanted to make a more dynamic record, more hills and valleys, different tempos, different topics. Everybody revealed more of who they are. I really honed in on what I wanted to do and captured the feel that I wanted for the group. 90% of the album was recorded at my house. There was a positive vibe in studio. We could take a break, chill out, rag on each other, goof off and go back to it with a fresh slate ever time. We didn’t have to worry about an hourly studio rate. Worrying about business in the studio, it doesn’t mix. Your mind needs to be clear and thinking on that level only.”–Nu-Mark

2. Freedom

“We’re going to Europe in March and Tokyo in a month. Touring opens you up as a musician, as a producer. You come to grips with how universal your sound is. We’ve augmented our sound because of our travels.”–Nu-Mark “It’s about being inventive. Not trying to give people the okey doke. Quality Control. Controlling your shit.”–Marc 7

3. If You Only Knew

“LA is one of most creative hip-hop cities on planet.”–Marc 7 “Every journalist in the world is sleeping on DJ Premier. He should be on the covers of The Source, Vibe, anything that can pimp the word hip-hop.”–Nu-Mark

4. Break

“J5 has always ignored people. Our life long motto is ‘Do what’s right for us at the right time.’ In ’96, we put out our EP independently and went Gold. Then when we signed to Interscope, people said independent is the way, it’s hip, you’re selling out. We paved the way for our own careers.”–Nu-Mark “Our lives are not too much different now that we’re on Interscope. Right when we put out our EP, we blew up. In Europe, we were in the Top 40 and so we saw that type of lifestyle at an early time in our career. That tutored us on the game early.”–Marc 7

5. React

“People just want regular old beans and rice. They adore listening to music that degrades women and violent shit. I don