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New material or not, it’s good to see Jurassic 5 still giving it their all

Jurassic 5By Josh Herwitt //

Jurassic 5 //
Club Nokia – Los Angeles
July 9th, 2015 //

In 2002, Jurassic 5 were on top of the hip-hop world. After achieving moderate success from its first two studio albums, the LA-based group’s third LP Power in Numbers soared to No. 15 on the Billboard 200 thanks, in part, to its hit single “What’s Golden” before other tracks like “Freedom” and “Hey” would later propel the six-piece further into the mainstream.

But by 2006, things had started heading in the wrong direction for the alternative hip-hop collective. DJ/turntablist Lucas Macfadden (Cut Chemist) left the group to focus on his solo career, and J5’s subsequent full-length record Feedback, despite its commercial success, was met by some rather ho-hum reviews. Less than a year later, the group broke up, citing “musical differences” for its decision to call it quits. Each of the remaining members — Charles Stewart (Chali 2na), Dante Givens (Akil), Courtenay Henderson (Zaakir aka Soup), Marc Stuart (Marc 7) and Mark Potsic (DJ Nu-Mark) — went their separate ways after the split, with some pursuing their own individual projects while Henderson was eventually forced to work a job at Nordstorm to make ends meet.

Jurassic 5 - Marc 7


Jurassic 5’s Marc 7

Seven years passed before Jurassic 5 would resurface, though this time it was in front of a packed crowd on the polo fields of Indio, Calif. The group’s Coachella performance in 2013 would signal a reunion of sorts, one that has continued through the first half of 2015 with shows overseas in Australia, New Zealand and Japan prior to this summer’s headlining U.S. tour, which featured a hometown date at Club Nokia last Thursday night.

And although Jurassic 5 hasn’t released any new material besides the Heavy D-produced track “The Way We Do It” last year, they still sound just as tight as they did in their early-2000’s heyday. In its native LA, the group appeared to be in high spirits from the minute it walked on stage. Chali 2na, arguably the group’s most beloved emcee among fans due to his deep baritone voice and remarkable rhyming ability, looked like his old cheerful and playful self, flowing effortlessly while flashing his great, big smile in between verses.

Jurassic 5 - Chali 2na


Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na

The DJ battle that ensued midway through J5’s set, meanwhile, reminded both new and old fans that the talent within the group extends equally from the front to the back of the stage. Because for as gifted as DJ Nu-Mark is, it’s hard to think of Jurassic 5 without picturing Cut Chemist behind the decks. During the few months that the group performed without him after his departure, something felt missing. It’s that relationship between DJ and emcee, after all, that makes iconic hip-hop groups like J5 so special to experience in a live setting, even more than two decades after they were formed.

At Club Nokia, Jurassic 5 never showed their age. They hit upon just about every big track they ever released and even welcomed legendary rapper Percee P to the stage late in their encore. But as nostalgic as it was hearing tracks like “Jayou”, ” The Influence”, “Quality Control” and “Improvised” more than a decade after they were written, Jurassic 5 won’t be able to live off them forever. Whether it’s next year or the year after, there will come a time when the group’s members will have no choice but to re-enter the studio and assemble a new record — if not to generate more radio play, then to at least continue touring. For now though, all six seem happy to be performing together again and similarly, so do their fans.

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Comments

  1. I’m so bummed I missed this show! These guys are legends, so glad to see them still doing it live.

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