Jurassic 5 goes back to its roots

Genevieve Leon

After busting into the L.A. underground hip-hop scene in 1995 and stirring a fervent following, underground hip-hop group Jurassic 5 (J5) has once again commanded the music scene’s attention with the debut of the band’s second full-length album, “Power In Numbers.” This nostalgic hip-hop posse combined the rhythmic and lyrical flair of its six outlandish members, yielding a new sound for “Power In Numbers.”

“We’re singing more, the beats are harder, the beats are choppier, there are more loops … there’s more aggressive, hardcore, hip-hop, dirty garage texture.” These harder, head-bopping beats stray modestly from Jurassic 5’s soulful harmonizing and flat-out fun chanting choruses. An old-school inspired sound has established J5 as a fresh, multi-talented group that seems to attract a diverse audience of fans who appreciate everything from underground free-styling to mainstream pop.

Success has come steadily to J5, who has appeared in tours with Outkast, The Roots and Lauryn Hill on the “Smokin’ Grooves Tour.” J5 began spinning new tunes almost immediately for “Power In Numbers” after finishing “Quality Control,” the band’s debut album. The blueprints for “Power” began with uncertain expectations, but with a drive to deliver a new sound. “We didn’t really know where we wanted to go,” says DJ Cut Chemist. “We just knew we wanted it to be different … there was no reference point.”

The pace and beats J5 dish out in “Power” may be new, but the band’s lyrics seem to emanate the same revered messages: a no nonsense image, passion for making good music and just having fun. Accomplishing an impressive and concrete second album, J5’s style has evolved by delving into new music genres and fusing on throwback sound. Fans were pleasantly surprised to hear an R&B synthesis in the song “Thin Line,” which includes the vocal presence of Nelly Furtado. J5 also tested out the “fast-rap” waters, linking up rapper Percee P with the Prince of Darkness, Big Daddy Kane, setting a precedent in breaking any previous musical boundaries the group may have harbored. Rising back full swing into the hip-hop scene has earned J5 the “buzzworthy” title on MTV, a gig performing on the Conan O’Brien show and a top 40 spot on modern rock radio stations nationally.

Staying true to their roots seems to be the plan at hand for future success, emcee Chali 2Na asserts, “First and foremost, we respect the fact that no matter what we tried to do to get us into this game, what got us in here was Jurassic 5.”

J5 appeared at the Electric Factory on Oct. 31.