On its new album, Quality Control (Interscope), the LA hip-hop outfit Jurassic 5 dares to reclaim an element of the music that's been abandoned in favor of verbal skill, technical showboating, and macho posturing--entertainment. MCs Chali 2na, Zaakir, Akil, and Marc 7 are aiming well beyond the "keep it real" crowd (they've even toured with Fiona Apple), yet they never sacrifice the fundamentals or succumb to gangsta cliches or Puff Daddy gloss. With their unison vocal chants, linear tumble of samples (courtesy of DJs Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark), and supremely musical rhyming, Jurassic 5 still remember the old-school days, when hip-hop was more about the party than the potty. They supply some swell basketball metaphors for their rapping on "The Game" and equate hip-hop pretenders with artificial Hollywood on "Lausd." "Contribution" summons up alt-rap's long-forgotten social conscience by suggesting that people stop complaining and take action. But Cut Chemist's puzzle-piece constructions tilt the sound away from pure nostalgia, drawing on everything from the gee-whiz drumming of Sandy Nelson on the swing showpiece "Swing Set" to the white-bread harmonizing of the Hi-Lo's (which elicits some wordless quasi-doowop riffing from the group). The new record isn't as strong as J5's 1997 debut EP, but it's still a blast. Dilated Peoples (see Spot Check) and the World Famous Beat Junkies open. Wednesday, 7 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield; 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/B+.