Los Angeles in the early to mid-nineties was a hotbed of musical activity …especially in the west coast hip hop scene.
On any given week you could catch some of the biggest names in the game playing at small clubs and bars throughout the city. One of the biggest spots in town for the music was a little club called The Root Down. I saved some of their flyers from that era and I look back at them now and wonder when we’ll ever see shit going down like that again.
In one month you could see DJ Z Trip, Blackalicious, Madlib and Ozomatli for like…ten bucks. Better yet, all your hip hop heros were there, just wandering around the place. (I remeber one show where I stopped and chatted with Peanutbutter Wolf for a bit while commenting that the guy next to us looked like Mos Def. Turns out it was Mos Def.)
But the group that became the cornerstone of the LA scene was Jurassic 5 and when their now legendary “Jurassic 5 EP”dropped in 1993, they pretty much had shit on lockdown.
They got their start at a South Central open-mic hot spot called the Good Life Cafe, the place that helped spawn the careers of The Freestyle Fellowship and The Pharcyde to name a few. Back then, they were two groups…The Rebels of Rhythm and The Unity Committee, and in early ’93 the crews collaborated on a one-off 12″ called “Unified Rebellion” that was an instant underground hit on college radio and mix shows. Jurassic 5 was now official.
Led by MC’s Zaakir, Akil, Marc 7 and the baritone Chali 2na the group’s sound is held together by the dynamic DJ team of Cut Chemist and DJ NuMark. (Jurassic is one of the few groups out there that uses two DJs on the regular) Capitalizing on the new interest, the group released “The Jurassic 5 EP” later that year on their own indie label and sold over 200,000 copies. Obviously the streets were hungry for the sound Jurassic 5 was peddling.
The EP is only 8 tracks long, but each track is so deftly crafted and upbeat that it feels like a full album. (Hell, Beck’s latest album is only 10 songs.) In fact, once it hit legendary status and they got picked up by a major label, they added a few more tracks and called it “The Jurassic 5 LP.” From the throbbing beat of ‘Jayou’ to the early hip hop feel of ‘Concrete Schoolyard’ the album remains firmly rooted in the past, while all the time looking forward. No bad day could withstand the onslaught a listening of this album would bring.
But the real treat is and always will be the live show, as it gives the MC’s a time to truely shine and live up the their name. If you haven’t seen it, the Cut Chemist and DJ NuMark throwdown that happens in the middle of every show is worth the price of admission alone. To celebrate the 15 year anniversary of the album, they’ve recently released a special edition with all kinds of tasty extras for hungry ears.
Grab it folks.