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Jurassic 5 – Quality Control

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My experience with Jurassic 5 is similar to that of a movie fan who read a novel before seeing the movie version of the story and concluding that the movie does not live up to the quality of the book. After hearing the group’s first full length CD, Quality Control, I’m left with more questions than answers.

In my case, I saw Jurassic 5 in concert (see review) before hearing their CD. The group, which consists of four MCs and two DJs, generated positive energy unlike any that I’ve ever experienced at any concert. After the show ended, a friend of mine said you could see the guys were having the time of their lives.

I bought the CD and, so far, it hasn’t lived up to the quality of their concert performance. The songs sounds flat. I’m finding fault with a CD that made several “best of” lists. Are my criticisms legitimate? I can forgive a weak live performance by a solid performer who makes great music, but if the group rocks in concert but is only slightly above average on CD, is it due to my bias or is the CD truly flawed?

The subject matter of many of the songs, while extremely well executed, focus on the group boasting about their skills. I wonder if this is a consequence of having four MCs. It might be difficult to create a consistent thematic focus when four people are contributing lyrics to a song. Unless the majority of the group’s members are geniuses (like The Beatles), a CD so dependent upon group lyrical input is likely to be uneven. Also, three producers are credited on the CD’s 15 tracks.

The last track is “Swing Set”, which, as the title indicates, is a swing-influenced hip-hop tune. Not “swing” as in “New Jack Swing”, “swing” as in Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. On a hip-hop album. Hmmm. What does swing have to do with hip hop? Everything and nothing.

The concert review refers to the crowd’s enthusiastic response to baritone rapper Chali 2Na. I find him to be the most interesting MC on the CD in terms of vocal quality and execution. Is this due to my concert experience, or is he indeed the best MC in the group?

Jurassic 5 releases a new album, Power in Numbers on October 8th. I hope to have a better sense of the long-term potential of this group after hearing it. I already know they’re great in concert.

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  • TKG

    j-5 is the best truely hip-hop group left. they don’t wast your time rappin about how much drugs they sell or how many people they’ve killed. they take sweet beats and line them with sweeter lyrics. if you weren’t amazed with quality control the cd then j-5 just isn’t for you. there’s too many nelly/ja rule sounding rappers out there and not enough rappers that have a sound anything like j-5. when they rap you just start bobbin your head with a smile on your face. i just prey that j-5 doesn’t sell out and end up on TRL some day. and power in numbers is a really good album also. i can’t wait till i get the chance to see them in concert

  • TMC

    Tsk. Come on. Clearly J5 are some of the best guys around.
    With smart wordplay, clever rhymeschemes, a wide vocabulary and overall flow, they certainly some of the best rappers I’ve heard, and the beats and music on their album is not to be taken lightly.
    If you think this is bad, I can’t wait to see them perform live.

    PS: I DO think Chali 2na is the best…

  • Anabolik

    I agree with Scott, the person who wrote this has no idea about hip-hop. Jurassic 5 is great in concert but quality control is also an excellent cd. And he questions Jurassic 5s lyrics? Thats what being a tight MC is about, using clever lyrics to talk about how nice you are. IT’s not that they have no subject matter. In fact there are songs on quality control touch on very deep subjects. Swing Set it a tight turntable track. And yes, 2na is the best mc.

  • I have seen J5 in concert and there concert is outstanding. In many ways Jurrasic 5 is reminiscent of the Cold Crush Brothers. The ability of the group as a whole to finish the lines of the other group members in a large chorus is a talented skill that not many rap groups can pull off. As with the Cold Crush, J5 prides themselves on their ability to give a good show.
    Charli 2na in many ways stands out because of his unique voice compared to the other MCs in the group.
    Swing Set in my mind is actually really cool. Swing Set follows the long hip-hop tradition of break beats. At the concert I saw, J5 break danced over the stage to SwingSet adding another element of hip-hop into their show. J5 is digging back to hip-hop’s early roots where early DJs like Afrika Bambataa and Red Alert were not afraid to play a large variety of music.

  • Re. Scott Lidbury’s comment: Huh? I don’t get the reference to “Dean Cheng”.

    If you read my article carefully, you’ll see that it isn’t really a review, per se: I compared my experience seeing Jurassic 5 live in concert vs. hearing the CD. The CD sounds flat in comparison with the terrific concert.

    I want to hear the group’s new CD without judging it against a concert performance.

  • Whoever wrote this article has absolutely no idea! Quality Control is one of the greatest ever hip hop albums and by describing it as ‘flat’ shows that you have no clue when it comes to hip hop. Charlie 2na is not only the best rapper in j5 but probably the best in the whole world of hip hop right now. His intellectualism, flow, timing and voice tone are unparralled in hip hop. I saw them live and I have to say they are the best live act I’ve seen I don’t think I’ll ever see better hip hop live.

    Dean Cheng you truly are an idiot and please do not waste anyones time reviewing an album that is clearly worth more than your life will ever be!

  • cris

    i havent seen j5 live. but i thought quality control was great. 4/5 atleast. so if there so much better on stage wow. still gon be first inline for power in numbers.

  • I don’t think Chali 2Na is the best rapper in the group, but he has that incredible voice and a really friendly, open, charismatic stage presence.

    You can listen to a song off their upcoming album at their site: http://www.jurassic5.com/