Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Jurassic 5: Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15

Jurassic 5 (Chali 2na): Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15 @bluesandsoul.com
Jurassic 5 (Chali 2na): Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15 @bluesandsoul.com Jurassic 5 (Akil): Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15 @bluesandsoul.com Jurassic 5 (Zaakir, aka Soup): Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15 @bluesandsoul.com Jurassic 5 (Mark 7even): Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15 @bluesandsoul.com Jurassic 5 (Mark 7even and Zaakir aka Soup): Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15 @bluesandsoul.com Jurassic 5 (Akil): Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15 @bluesandsoul.com Jurassic 5 (Chali 2na): Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15 @bluesandsoul.com Jurassic 5 (Zaakir, aka Soup): Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15 @bluesandsoul.com Jurassic 5 (Chali 2na): Forum, Kentish Town, London 10/9/15 @bluesandsoul.com

I was at school when I first heard Jurassic 5’s debut album playing on a battered tape recorder... at the time, hip hop was a brash, brazen genre, with Biggie and 2Pac’s music still resonating despite their violent demises, and Mobb Deep, Gang Starr, Dr Dre, Snoop, Nas and Jay-Z on repeat on my Walkman. It does feel like a long time ago.

Alternative hip hop hadn’t really registered with me in those early days, but when someone put on Jurassic 5’s “Concrete Schoolyard" - I bowled straight over to find out what it was. That was the pre-Spotify era, when finding new music was so much more difficult...on the way home I stopped at Our Price to buy a copy of their EP, and spent the following months digesting it.

Boasting one of the most distinctive MCs at the time, Chali 2Na, it was an instant classic, and remains one of my favourite records. “Quality Control” was a solid follow-up, and I loved 2002’s “Power In Numbers”.

They played at Brixton Academy last year to rave reviews, so their gig at Kentish Town Forum was a must. And lots of others thought so too, as the venue was packed to the rafters. It may be 17 years since Jurassic 5’s debut was released, but there was no shortage of youthful energy as they hit the stage, Akil the MC’s grey beard the only reminder of the passage of time.

The show boasted the original line-up of Chali 2na, Akil, Mark 7, Soup, DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist. Each MC took to the stage and delivered a verse from “Back 4 U” from the ‘Feedback’ album.

Early versions of “Jayou”, the first track from the 1998 EP followed.
All four of the MCs clearly love what they’re doing, each sounding on top form, with Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark creating a wall of sound behind them. And Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark stepped to the foreground with panache, delivering a masterclass in mixing, wearing what looked like turntable guitars...it was incredible, and the reaction from the crowd reflected it.

It was a surprise that the group performed “Concrete Jungle” relatively early in the set, but with a material to draw from, they weren’t short of tracks to keep the audience’s attention...all the MC's are charismatic, and Charli 2na was the perfect anchor, his deep voice sounding as fresh live as it does on the record. Akil, Mark 7 and Soup all had their chances to shine.

The Kentish Town Forum is a great venue for hip hop shows, and the sound levels were just right. It’s very easy for rappers to get lost in the sound, especially with two DJs putting in a shift behind them.

Fists were raised in the air for a resounding version of “Freedom”, and the group sounded great performing the brilliant “Thin Line”, one of the highlights from the “Power In Numbers” long player. Add in versions of “Improvise”, “Jurass Finish 1st” and “What’s Golden”, and it turned into a triumphant show.

Charli 2na was an incredible presence on stage, interacting with the crowd...it then spoke volumes that as soon as the show finished, the MCs didn’t vanish backstage, but mingled with fans instead. They had delivered a long set, lasting more than 90 minutes, but the spark and energy was resounding after all these years, and bodes well for the future.

Absolutely definitely a must-see act.
Words Dave Burke

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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