There's actually six of them, yet Jurassic 5 got everything else right on their self-titled debut EP. The clever old-school rhyming from all four MCs (Marc 7even, Chali 2na, Zaakir and Akil) plus the heart-tugging production with a jazz-funk, turntablist bent from Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark. Part of the new rap underground of the late '90s (along with Company Flow, Mos Def, Kool Keith, and Sir Menelik), the sextet came together in 1993 at the Los Angeles cafe/venue named the Good Life. The six members were part of two different crews, Rebels of Rhythm and Unity Committee; after collaborating on a track, they combined into Jurassic 5 and debuted in 1995 with the "Unified Rebellion" single for TVT Records. Both Cut Chemist and Chali 2na are also part of the Latin-hop collective Ozomatli, while Chemist himself has recorded several mix-tapes plus the wide-issue album Future Primitive Soundsession (with Shortkut from Invisibl Skratck Piklz).
Chali 2na was seriously injured recently in a bus accident and now has a steel plate in his head. But that has not stopped J5 from touring this fall on the Word of Mouth tour with Dilated Pupils. I talked with Zaakir, also known as Soup, in South Central LA. The new album is called Quality Control, and was reviewed previously in Free Williamsburg .
Zaakir: Actually everybody is recuperating. You know, taking a little time to relax, get all the bumps and bruises healed up. After that we will commence the tour again around September the 13th. We're going of this Word of Mouth tour with The Dilated Peoples, Beat Junkies, and The Supernaturals . I think this cat, Planet Asia, is going to do a couple shows. That goes on till November.
AL: You are pretty happy about the album?
Zaakir: Sure. It was a lifelong dream. God was nice enough to let me experience it. So I'm enjoying every minute of it. The record is doing real well. We've sold almost 200,000 CDs in two months. I couldn't ask for more, except going platinum in a day, or something. So far I'm content. Hopefully it will keep going.
AL: You've played several festivals and big shows in Europe. Do you like that better than small clubs?
Zaakir: I like whenever someone comes sees me at, whether it would be a club or your backyard, and people are eating sandwiches and hors d'oeurves, I don't care. It's a privilege having people dig what you do. They spend their hard-earned money so I don't have a preference.
AL: Are you more popular in Europe?
Zaakir: Well, what it was, we actually had a label pushing us overseas, as opposed to over here, at the time we put out the EP. That's why we got a lot of love in Europe. Over here, it was more of a word of mouth type thing. We didn't take off like we did in Europe. We always had a name out here. People always knew us in the underground. Whether or not we were totally unknown, that's not true. For all the stuff that comes with the business; overseas was where we first experienced it. As far as radio and television and things of that nature. That was the reason why we had so much success over there.
AL: What part of Los Angeles are you guys from? And where did you all meet up?
Zaakir: We met at this place called The Good Life Café, in South Central. But everyone is from different areas, like South Central, Silverlake, Hollywood, and the Valley. We have people from all over. We used to meet up on Thursday nights at the Good Life. We met Nu-Mark through the Rat Race.
AL: When we think of Rap and Hip-hop in LA we think of people who were there from day one like Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, and people like that. Were those guys an influence?
Zaakir: They definitely were an influence. When Dre and Eazy, and NWA period came out, they were telling it like nobody was telling it, as far as what was going on in LA. The put the living that I know about on the wax. Put it that way. Eazy-E was very influential. He was one of the first guys who had his own label. Which was Ruthless. He got a distributor and it blew up. And you see everybody getting his or her own labels. Eazy-E was the first to get his own label, so that was an influence on Hip-hop alone. Dr. Dre has created some of the best music period. I'm not restricting it to Hip-hop. Me, I like whatever is good. There's a bunch of stuff besides Dre, Snoop, and Eazy-E. If you have talent and your songs are good, I will be digging it. We have a bunch of influences, but when we do our stuff, we're trying to bring something new to the table.
AL: Does Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist have a lot of records?
Zaakir: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I would like to know who has the most to be honest with you. I know that Nu-Mark has a shitload, and Cut Chemist has a shitload. We should never run out of stuff, put it that way.
AL: When you go about creating songs and tunes, how do you go about composing each track?
Zaakir: Whatever the mood is, it's different. We don't have a set way of doing things. That way we go with the flow. There's no blueprint on how we make a song. It might start with the chorus, or someone has a verse, it could start with the beat. It all depends.
AL: Are you doing some TV and Radio in the meantime?
Zaakir: As I understand we are supposed to fly out to New York City and do Rap City, which is on BT. Do some thing for MTV2. That's about it. We are getting ready for the tour. It's always exciting to meet the fans and see people's reaction.
AL: Chali 2na is okay?
Zaakir: He got hurt. He fractured his skull. He's doing a lot better now. We got into a wreck. I can't get into my speculations on why we wrecked. It's fortunate that it was how it was, because it could have been worse. He will be there for the whole tour.
Jurassic 5 - Tour Dates
Fri, September 15, 7:30 PM Hollywood CA
Free Williamsburg | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | September 2000 | Volume 7