Somewhere between The Pharcyde [click to read] and Blu [click to read], Jurassic 5 [click to read] had west coast independent Hip Hop on their back for several years. Respect due to Cali Agents, Stones Throw and Dilated Peoples, but it was J5 who took a kinetic stage show, a masterful understanding of Hip Hop's origins and a unique, organic style and attracted the attention of Interscope Records for three major albums [click to read]. The EP that made it happen though remains their most coveted work, and as it turns 10 years old with the six brothers from California find themselves in factions and solo careers, the DVD and bonus CD reel package reminds those who were there that tomorrow got nothing on yesterday.
Ten years later "Concrete Schoolyard," "Jayou" and "Improvise" remain just as potent as they did set against the shiny-suit-era canvas. An album that scraped the definition of the perfect in its time hasn't lost its charm in age. The additional bonus tracks simply give those who championed the work then something else to consider. Many of the new records, rarities, radio work and archival material, is deejay-based. "Rubber Tires" for instance feels like an update of Malcolm McLaren's "Buffalo Gals," with Nu-Mark in apparent deep concentration. "Next Victim" is partner Cut Chemist's turn, masterfully switching between the signature hard-hitting drums of J5 and one of the sweeter sample finds in the collector's crate. "Verbal Gunfight" is yet another gem, adding a peppier bassline to the group that reintroduced kicks and snares to a synthesized, Pop-sounding era of Hip Hop. Although some of the audio quality of the new material lacks polish, it's supposed to. Like a cassette dub, a pause tape or the way a live record sounds in your memory, these are gifts from a group offering up material dating back as early as 1994.
As a major inclusion of the package, the DVD is essential to mention. "The Jurassic Period" is a collection of tour movies from the guys towards the latter years of the group. Babu, Supernatural and Evidence [click to read] make cameos as members clown each other, get topless groupie admiration and embark on a tour that looked so red-eyed and jovial, it's again hard to understand the root of the breakup. Although the sound editing surpasses the film editing, this - a live concert and the timeless record/ice cream truck "Concrete Schoolyard" video make this package all the more collectible to fans.
Like the Mass Appeal: Best of collection of Gang Starr released last year, or A Tribe Called Quest's Anthology, it's often not until today that we can properly appreciate yesterday. Ten years later and few producers have the knowledge of records demonstrated by Cut Chemist, the mix and programming techniques employed by Nu-Mark, the deft alto flow of Chali 2na or the collective harmonic chemistry that J5 brought. To 2na, Akil, Mark 7even and Zaakir together, incorporating Cold Crush Brothers aesthetic, electro and uncut '90s underground bravado was tangible to outsiders, and it birthed Hip Hop fans - but not nearly as many as the Hip Hop made in its wake is turning away.