Review: Jurassic 5 at The Republik

Mar. 31, 2014 | 2 Comments

BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser

When legendary hip-hop collective Jurassic 5 brought their classic feel-good brand of rap to The Republik stage on Sunday, not only did the Los Angeles-based crew prove they still got it, they also showed that quality music can reach an even higher plane when backed by a stellar live performance. The six-member crew dropped a 90-minute set of classic boom bap brilliance that won’t soon be forgotten.

While it’s been eight years since the Jurassic 5 last performed in Hawaii at Pipeline Cafe — and just as long since they put out new material — the signature harmonies of Chali 2na, Akil, Mark 7, Zaakir and DJs Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark were clear from the onset of Sunday’s set, which wrapped up an Asian tour jaunt that kicked off in Singapore on March 11. They kicked the Honolulu show off with the catchy “Back For U,” call-and-response gem “I Am Somebody” and the flute-ladened classic jam, “Jayou.”

Any question about the 40-somethings losing a step or two performance-wise was put to rest during “Monkey Bars,” when Akil got his groove on and dropped to the floor to do an impromptu break dance display of nimble moves and fancy footwork. J5 continued to lather the crowd up with feel good music, performing back-in-the-day underground hits like “Quality Control” and “Concrete Schoolyard,” all free of a single swear word or derogatory remark.

And while a MC giving his or her DJ a few moments to show off their skills is nothing new in hip-hop, no one does it with as much flair and visual appeal as DJs Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark. The two beatsmiths took turns rocking out to crazy music gadgets to the amazement of the crowd.

Cut Chemist got busy on a portable CDJ turntable before Nu-Mark met his DJ homey at the front of the stage wearing a vest adorned with various sized vinyl records. Each one played a sample with a single touch, and Nu-Mark had the crowd going ballistic. The ultimate highlight for the duo, however, took place when they took turns on a giant turntable positioned in the middle of the stage — one would adjust the fader while the other would perform various scratches on a larger-than-life vinyl record.

With the audience in full frenzy mode, the mellow baritone style of 2na complimented the spitfire brilliance of Zakir’s high pitch flow and meshed perfectly with the aggressive street cadence of Mark 7, who wore a black walking boot on his left foot, and the party rhyme skills of Akil.

It was refreshing to see the appreciation for the wordplay displays, which could put any of today’s popular rappers to shame. Even when the crowd was presented with an unfamiliar tune, they would still groove out to the heavy bass-laden beats.

As obvious as the pure joy of the crowd was, J5’s bravado and chemistry was also undeniable, as each MC would seamlessly weave in on their verse and effortlessly weave out for the next MC to step up and wreck shop. Not only is the brotherhood they share real; they also understand their rightful place in hip-hop history. Downtime was hard to find as the show’s upbeat pace remained constant.

In a rather odd moment that seemed to work in the end, 2Na directed the crowd to raise their arms and open and close their hands to the beat. During the performance of “In The House,” a song that samples “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang, all six members took part in a slickly choreographed dance number that featured the robot and old school pop and lock moves.

After a brief “hana hou” chant, Jurassic 5 returned and capped off a lengthy encore with “What’s Golden?” that effectively put a final stamp on a show filled with feel good raps and old school hip-hop essence.

To the pleasure of those who didn’t make a mad dash for the exits, the group stuck around for an unscheduled mini meet-and-greet. While fans could talk story, pose for photos and get autographs, those in attendance on Sunday also had the luxury of taking home a piece of J5 history in memory and spirit.