Jurassic 5 Brixton Academy 2013 .. remember the date, remember these words:
There are so many ways of starting this article, I could say ‘they came, they saw, they kicked Brixton’s arse’, or maybe ‘Jurassic 5 absolutely smashed it with this set’, but I’m not going to ruin the build up to that part which is saved for such a statement. I am, instead, going to start off by simply saying a massive thank you to Marc 7even. He not only arranged VIP tickets to the Brixton gig, but kept in touch throughout the day and made sure everything was sorted.
Jurassic 5 have been a part of my Hip-Hop lifestyle since Jayou, that most recognised single release from their first self titled EP/album. The love I felt for their music was instant, the same feeling I got for Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill and Blackalicious.
Since that day I have always dropped J5 in sets, no matter where I play or who the crowd may be, they have to be reminded, or introduced to, 4 MC’s who sound like one with their 2 DJ’s who have been representing at the highest level for many years, and to whom I have looked up to since I knew of them.
I’ve seen J5 a handful of times, witnessed their journey through the underground, heard Quality Control being played by Chris Moyles on his BBC Radio breakfast show.. seen and been around people when they realise that Hip-Hop don’t get any better than this while listening to my J5 mixes. I’m a fan, a huge one .. of a group who have stuff left in the basement and have reformed to unload it all on the UK and Europe.
Over the last 18 months I’ve been fortunate enough to have built up a positive online friendship with Mr. Marc 7even, we have morally sound compasses, love our partners and children, stay humble and grounded, and have matured as men throughout our lives. He seems to have the ora of a mediator.
When we arrived South via the M1, drove through the packed areas of Central London and finally found a parking place near to the O2 Brixton Academy, I got in touch with Marc to let him know me and Megamouth had landed (complete with a picture of the Sold Out signage above the entrance doors). Then we headed off to Leicester Square.
15 minutes later and an invite to join the film crew around Brixton was extended our way. An invitation which would see us joining Marc 7even and Soup for a stroll through the fish market (if only Chali had been present, the photo opportunities would have seemed endless), past the Brixton Station where fans were arriving, and then back to the Academy where more fans were rushing for pictures with their true Hip-Hop heroes.
Next up we are in the VIP bar looking down on the swelling crowd from the private bar which had more staff behind than customers in front. Ordered a coke and took the weight off my 38 year old feet. Then… Jurassic 5 took to the stage.
The lights dimmed, crowd went mad and then out came the slimmed Cut Chemist in his ACDC style shorts and suit jacket with tie, joined by Nu-Mark in the same attire although opting for a full pair of pants. Then our 4 favourite MC’s took to the stage, left to right Chali was looking sharp and tall, Akil.. bearded and small, Marc 7even looking smooth in Levi’s and baby blue sweater .. and then Soup, who was superstyling complete with shades.
Straight away I sensed that there was something different, something more whole, more mature about the whole thing. The sound was fatter, their unity seemed tighter, their was more understanding, they looked .. more grown up.
Just ride with this if you will, hopefully you’ll understand what I am about to say.
You know when you throw a pack of cards up in the air and they spread across the floor.. and it takes a little time to collate them, turn them the right way, arrange them into their suits, and finally put them back to how they were… well… that is what I think has happened here. The group got together in the early 90′s and were full of excitement and creativity, this was present on the release of Unified Rebelution, followed by Jurassic 5, Quality Control, Power in Numbers and finally Feedback which was minus Cut Chemist. Obviously, throughout that time there was countless other twelves and compilations, but it’s the albums I want to call on because they are the hardest thing to compile as a group, even harder with a large group, as I know.
Jurassic 5 and Quality Control were two releases which were very similar in their production and more, with Power in Numbers slightly different but still a beast of an album with the sound fatter but not too different from their previous two LP’s which all J5 fans, and the general listener, could relate to without having to change their ears too much. Finally, in the wake of Cut Chemist separating from not only his group, but his good friend Nu-Mark with whom he shared the audio workload, came the long player Feedback. A different animal at the time, various producers including Scott Storch, Bean One, Exile and others made this harder for some J5 listeners to get their head around, it did sound different and you could tell there was no Cut Chemist.
But for all that, the stand out track on this album, for me, is ‘Gotta Understand’ .. produced by? Scott Storch. Red Hot is a banger, and you would be right in thinking ‘why is the album not filled with tracks like this with skits similar to the first albums’, the answer to that is progression. I believe it was a little too much for some at that time in J5′s career, and this is where I am returning to the Brixton Academy.[hr]
Back to the Show:
The sound was different, almost like everything had been re-mastered and tweaked. I later found out that it had been, which brought the classics in-line with the beefiness of hitters from the Feedback album, an album which over time has been more widely accepted, one which was obviously ahead of it’s time when released.
As performers they have aged and matured, and with that comes their acceptance to tinker with the music which made their name in the first place, that must have been a big decision.
Their solo careers were celebrated throughout the set, Nu-Mark and Chemist had their respective banners draping their turntable tables, Chali 2na dropped ‘Comin Thru’ among other treats, and there is the understanding I mentioned earlier.
Chali 2na brought the house down as he always has with his baritone voice, one of, if not the, most recognised voice in Hip-Hop. Akil was lyrically tight and hit the floor complete with gloves to break out, Marc 7even constantly roamed the stage, stepping in with his chilled and distinctive flow. Oh and Soup, he seems to have shifted his voices pitch up an octave, something which most performers wouldn’t do as they age, choosing to go the other way to make things easier.
Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark were on point, having a couple of moments for their creative madness to appear using a huge turntable effigy which was hooked up to a Rane mixer as well as Uncle Nu smacking out beats on round-the-neck vinyl pads, while Cut was exorsising his rock side playing a turntable guitar with the crossfader situated on the neck of this bespoke contraption.
One thing which I noticed more than any other time I have seen the six was the way Nu-Mark worked his bastard arse off… I dare say that Nu is hyped at the fact they are back together and performing as a six, but there must also be the knowing that he held the group together for around 2 years on his own behind the ones ‘n’ twos. His right hand man wasn’t there so he had to work doubly as hard, it was his baby alone at that point and it came through in his performance.
Their hot potato link up was as devastating as always.. their crowd control better than ever, the relationship with the fans stronger than before, and everything you want to hear is in this comeback show. ‘Jurassic 5 absolutely smashed it with this set’
There has always been stuff in the basement (as Rocky would put it), since the split, but there really seems to be a united front to their performance, a bit of ‘if we are going out we are going out Full Metal Jacket style’. If this is to be it then it is one banging way to go out and leave the fanatics satisfied.
Now although I can’t remember the whole setlist I could list most of it, but I’m not going to. Instead ‘you’ need to catch this 2013 show. I drove to London and back getting home at 5am the next day and it was worth every tired hour I have experienced since. ‘They came, they saw, they kicked Brixton’s arse’.
The documentary was being filmed in Brixton and I am hoping that I might be in the final cut, somewhere in the background, even just a hair. I would like to extend a thank you to the director of the J5 documentary and his beautiful Bolton born, Wimbledon raised, Arsenal supporting wife now living in New York for their insight into the documentary, the snippets of info which they gave me (I am keeping all that back), and their friendliness while there.
Again I would like to thank Marc 7even for sorting this day as well as Soup and the rest of the group for the entertainment and respect shown.
I will see you all in Leeds.
Enjoy the J5 Music
p.s. Soup I will sort you out the Retreat Bambaataa t-shirt and get it to you when the Leeds date comes around.