Jurassic 5 are tagged as being hiphop revivalists, recalling the party era of rap. They ditched that notion midway thru their show at the St James with a song introduced as "this is about the war in Iraq", followed by the group's four MCs raising their middle finger in the air while rapping the lyric "Well, I’m not hesitant in saying truck the President", cept they used another word that sounds like truck, but starts with F. You get the picture.
The J 5 took their sweet time getting here - originally scheduled to play here last October, they opted for more Australian dates instead. Now they made it, and the appreciative crowd is very happy to see them.
According to the NZ Herald's Rebecca Barry, the gig started with warmup sets from Scribe and "a duo who strapped their turntables and keyboards to their bodies and played them as though they were a rock band." Um, no. What really happened was this. DJ Manuel Bundy played a few tunes, local MC Tha Feelstyle delivered a brief set (I didn’t make it in time to catch this, but have heard a few tunes on the radio - watch out for his album, due out in a few months, it will knock heads and blow minds) and then Scribe did a subdued set. His voice was a little lacking in power, looked like he might’ve been a bit crook. He was followed by Manuel Bundy, then Jurassic 5 strolled onstage.
They ripped thru half a dozen songs, then the 4 MCs (Chali 2na, Akil, Zaakir, Marc 7) left the stage and had a breather, while DJs Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist had some fun. Cut Chemist scratched away on the turntables, while Nu-Mark jumped on a drumkit and banged out a beat. Then Nu-Mark banged out a tune on a bunch of kid's music blocks, which was pretty twisted. For their final trick, Cut strapped on a portable turntable while Nu-Mark had a drum machine round his neck, and they grooved away down front (I think this is 'the duo' that Barry was referring to). If she arrived at this point, she would’ve also missed Nu-Mark sitting at a school desk, banging away at sample pads stuck to its surface, triggering a funky rhythm. J5 must be the only touring act in the world that include a beaten up old school desk in their road kit.
The crowd response was dynamite. The energy from the stage was well matched by the enthusiastic audience, and J5 namechecked Scribe, telling us that we should go out and buy his album, if we didn’t have it already – "support your own". Scribe joined the group later for a freestyle. Chali 2na pointed at his throat while Scribe was rapping, suggesting the dude had a sore throat. He’s a trooper tho.
The J5 live experience is one tight machine, well-practised stage moves, but not too many hiphop clichés, and it delivers the goods. If you didn’t smile at least once during this show, you had a face made of stone. When the show finished, they invited the crowd down to the official afterparty at Fu Bar with DJ Nu-Mark playing, then casually strolled offstage, put down their mics, and the MCs walked to the front, shaking hands and signing autographs. Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist packed up their record bags and left the stage, but came back out to meet and greet their fans, Chali 2na signing someone’s shoe! A charmingly low key end to a warm, genuine show. I headed off to the Fu Bar, and partied with Nu-Mark til the break of dawn – well, they did invite us, and it would’ve been rude not to go - and then walked home, showered, and went to work. Had a nap under my desk, woke up, wrote this, and went back to sleep. Wake me at 5. Later.
Peter McLennan blogs regularly at Weapons of Mass Distraction.