Jurassic 5 @ Toyosu Pit (Apr. 14th, 2015)

Schoolin’ the masses on real hip hop
Live Report : “Schoolin’ the masses on real hip hop” @ Toyosu Pit 2015.04.14

Jurassic 5

In the fleeting world of hip hop, maintaining popularity and staying current for over 20 years is almost unheard of. Jurassic 5 however, isn’t your average hip hop group. Now over 20 years in the game, despite having only 4 studio albums, they can still sell out venues and pack main stages at festivals all around the world. Even with taking a 5 year hiatus until 2013 and releasing almost no new music since then, they still have fans frothing at the mouth for the fire they bring each and every time they play live.

Jurassic 5It’s really just a testament to J5 and what they do. A classic hip hop group in every sense of the word. Not concerned with fads or image, the original elements of the art have always reigned supreme with this group. Those who fell in love with hip hop for the sake of the art can’t help but love J5. As they say, “We’re not balling, or shot calling. We take it back to the days of yes y’all-in’. We holding onto what’s golden.” Every member is an integral part of the group for their skill and sound. The 4 Mcs all have a distinct octave and flow that together creates something magical. Then when you add 2 world class hip hop DJs who can pack a venue by themselves, it’s really hard to match the live J5 show for excitement and energy.

To see them live is an education in hip hop and its roots. How many other groups take “… four MC’s and make ‘em sound like one and… show you how to improvise reminiscent of the Wild Style ’75.” The point is that hip hop seemingly lost its way in rise to the mainstream. Although there have been some dope tracks and highly skilled DJs and Mcs since the early days of the genres inception, J5 never got lost along the way. They stuck to hip hop’s original formula as the true path and have gained millions of followers along the way.

The last time we saw them here in Japan was back in 2013 headlining the Saturday night time slot at Fuji Rock. The set they played there was one of my favourites of the festival, along with other members from the reporting team.

Jurassic 5So how did they do this time around? J5 is a handful of acts that I will make an effort to see every chance I get. Some musical acts I feel satisfied with seeing once but J5 has that special magic and electricity to their live show that you wont find in many other acts. Was it much different than their 2013 performance? To be sure they played some different tunes and looked a little older but their sound is still pitch perfect. They came together, finished each others sentences, flowed individually then back into harmony. The DJs, Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark for their part, were still very skilled and on point. They came complete with crazy accessories like the portable turntable vinyl guitar and the world’s largest working turntable.

J5 dropped all the fan favourites with hits like “Quality Control”, “Freedom”, “Thin Line”, “Improvise”, “What’s Golden” and more. Honestly, they don’t have many tunes that don’t sound like classic jams. Cut Chemist and Nu Mark laid down a jaw-dropping interlude, we got a quasi bboy dance from the crew and they even gave the fans a chance at requesting tunes as they came back for their encore.

The 90 minute set seemed to breeze by which tends to happen at a good show. Where J5 goes from here is up to them. This leg of their tour just finished and festival season is creeping upon them. Do they have what it takes to churn out a few more classics of the genre with a new album? To myself and millions around the world it doesn’t really matter, but lets hope when I see them next it will be touring a new album.

-SET LIST-
Back 4 You / I Am / Jayou / Desk / Influence / Break / Monkey Bars / Improvise / –DJ Interlude– / Quality Control / Concrete / Long Road / High Fidelity / Comin Thru / Future Sound / Hey / Baby Please / Gotta Understand / Freedom / Thin Line / Without a Doubt / Countdown / In the House / –Requests– Ducky Boy / Radio / Work It Out –End of requests– / King Tee / The Way We Do It / Red Hot / Jurassic Finish First / Day at the Races / What’s Golden

–>Photo Report

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Photos:
Yusuke Kitamura
yusuke@smashingmag.com

Yusuke Kitamura's Works

Text:
James Mallion
james@smashingmag.net

James Mallion's Works

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