Ze releasten niet zoveel, maar hun live-reputatie wordt alom geroemd. Een paar maanden geleden verscheen hun jongste album 'Power In Numbers'. HiphopInJeSmoel sprak in Amsterdam met Chali 2na, Nu-Mark en Akil van Jurassic 5.

You are together for 10 years now in the form of Jurassic 5. You’ve got two albums and one EP released while other major artists release like one album each year. What do you think of that in relation to the number of albums you have released?

Chali 2na:
Well, it’s almost mass-produced how they do it. I think it’s cool. They just probably haven’t had the obstacles that we’ve had in order to bring out the stuff that we brought out. From doing it ourselves and selling it out of the trunks to getting small-label record-deals that pushed us to further places than we could and finally getting down with Interscope and Universal and getting to where we are now. We had a lot of bumps and bruises that couldn’t slow us down from, basically, doing the same thing.

Nu-Mark:
We tour about seven months after each album. We don’t do a few-month tour and then start up a next album. We tour like six, seven months after each project and whatever what we do is in between tours or after all the tours have done.

Quality above quantity?

Nu-Mark:
We want our fans to get their 15 dollars or 20 dollars or 35 dollars or whatever it’s going to be worth. To get to them what their money’s worth from buying our cd.

Ten years of Jurassic 5. Can we expect something special of this anniversary?

Chali 2na:
We should! Would be kind of cool. It wasn’t planned, but it would be very cool to do.

What’s happing on the U.S.-West coast nowadays? It’s a little quiet. Are there any special developments?

Akil:
I think there’s always something brewing. It’s a lot of stuff that’s out there. Just as well as how we got in the street. Most people don’t think like: ‘Wow! How did you come out of the West coast with this type of sound?’ It has always existed there. There’s a lot of groups there. There’s always something new going on. I’m working on a project right now that’s called L.A.U.S.D.: Los Angeles Unified Skill District. It’s going to be a spot where MC’s can come down and you basically can get judged. You get criticism and praise. Where MC’s get on stage and you say: ‘Okay. What are you rapping’ about?’ ’I’m gonna rap about this.’ And then after they ended their rap, you go: ‘That rap wasn’t about that.’ Or you can be like: ‘well, you had a nice delivery, but I couldn’t hear you. You were covering your mic’. Training young MC’s to get better on stage and stuff. There’s a lot of people who can record, but a lot of people don’t have tight shows. So that’s something I’m trying to get going on. As well as hosting other MC’s from L.A. that have talent and haven’t got heard like Chali’s brother.

Ugly Duckling is working on a new album. Will Jurassic 5 feature on it?

Chali 2na:
They haven’t asked us to be on it, but with Ugly Duckling you never know what can happen. It’s always a surprise. I think Einstein was gonna do something with Soup.

Nu-Mark:
Yeah. A compilation CD called Funky President that’s coming out and Soup’s doing a song with Einstein from Ugly Duckling.

We heard most of you grew up in violent neighborhoods in L.A. However your music has such a positive vibe, how come?

Chali 2na:
Well, because L.A. is not just a violent area. Not everybody does what is portrayed of L.A. Not everybody is gangster. Not everybody is doing that type of music. We are just people who record the stuff that we like and we live by a code of ethics that we received from being fans of hip-hop. Like Run DMC and LL Cool J and people from that whole era when we came into hip-hop. And that’s what we kinda based our mental and artistic push on. We thank all of that to that era.

On the flip of the coin we talk about negative issues that affect the community and things of that nature. But we’re not those gangsta-kinda cats. Cause if we were, you would hear it in our music. You’re just hearing what we are as people.

Did you ever consider to change your name into Jurassic 6 when it turned out that the group would contain six members?

Akil:
No, cause it doesn’t sound right, Jurassic 6. Our name came from Chali’s mom. She was making a joke about the first song that we ever did called Unified Rebelution. She said: “Because I like the Fantastic 5, it’s more like the Jurassic 5.” And we thought: “That’s a nice name!” She was making a joke. It fits what we were doing. We were bringing something old into new times just as in the movie. Old-school hip-hop and taking it back is like a myth to newer people. So when they see us, it’s like: "Oh, that’s the real-life image of what they talked about back in the day. I feel that is what Jurassic 5 represents in hip-hop.

With what aim has Power In Numbers been created? Is it an old-school revival?

Chali 2na:
‘A Day At The Races’ is probably the most old-school-revivalish-kinda song we have on the album. Cause we had the chance to work with Percy P. We had the chance to work with Big Daddy Kane. But Power In Numbers to me is more like an extension of whom we are as people and as a group. It isn’t really an old-school revival. We draw upon the interviews on that era cause that’s where we learned about hip-hop. For the most part it was just a growth, a bigger step.

Do you miss the times you were making tracks in the basement?

Nu-Mark:
I never made a track in a basement! I still make all my tracks in the garage. It looks nicer in there, but it’s still my garage. I’ve always been in apartments where I couldn’t make noise. It’s better to be able to make noise till everything sounds good. I have to have a certain environment around me that has to be almost perfect. Room temperature and everything have to be nice. Everything has to be put away clean. Being able to make noise. My working environment is being consistently the same because that’s what generates my motivation. I usually have to be by myself. As far as recording goes with this album, we recorded most of it at my house. I think there is a difference when you’re at a regular recording studio. You don’t have the luxury of just waiting around and joking around. When we’re at my house we can go out and get something to eat, come back, try it again, hoop of. It floods and that’s how it should be. Music should be, just come from when you want to do it. Like: ‘Nice, let’s try it again’. It’s a vibe thing. There’s more pressure in a studio, you can’t sound exactly like you want, you don’t know the equipment as well as in your own studio, and you’re worried about people showing up on time. You’re wasting time. You’re worried about everything else except the creative.

A lot of people are wondering if you, Chali 2na, and Cut Chemist are still part of Ozomatli?

Chali 2na:
In spirit more so than effectively. We are like reserve soldiers. Hahaha. We’re not so much working together as we used to. I hope to work with them more in the future, but for the most part it’s not like it used to be.

Just like Ozomatli, Jurassic 5 has a great reputation for their live shows. Especially in comparison with other hip-hop acts. What’s the secret?

Chali 2na:
I don’t think it’s really a secret. I just think, once again, it’s just drawn upon those ethics. When cats didn’t have videos or big money budgets to back them they’d to be seen across the world. They just have their stage presence and the material that they brought forth. So when you came to the show you told your friends and then they came to the show the next time they were in town. That’s what’s up. We try to take the shows that we do just as serious as the music that we record. We try to be as well all-rounded with everything what has to do with what we do.

Let’s talk about three collaborations you did. First there was a song with Ozomatli called ‘Coming War’. What are you feelings about the coming American war on Iraq? [red.: interview voor oorlog afgenomen]

Chali 2na:
I listened to that song about three days before we came on this tour and it kinda scared me, because it was real prophetic, so to speak. It’s a scary thing, but it’s no secret. None of this is a secret. Everything that happens has, in my opinion, being ordained or foretold. You’ve been able to at least predict the outcome from the actions by either government or the actions of different countries. Leaders have been unforgivable because the citizens suffer. I’m hoping [there will be no war, red.], but I don’t know what’s going to happen and I just leave it like that.

There also was a song called ‘Join The Dots’ with Roots Manuva from the U.K. How did that come together?

Chali 2na:
I just basically like that group. I was asking a lot of people that I thought who knew him to tell him that whenever he wanted to work together he could call. And I guess when he got his record-deal straight for his second album he called. I came and we worked. It was cool.

The last collabo: What was the reason you invited Nelly Furtado for a song? In what way was she invited?

Akil:
We met her at Mark 7. He liked her and he introduced her right through to the group. Then Cut Chemist had made this beat that made us think about a story about a girl, but not necessarily in traditional cliches. We wanted to represent a relationship between a boy and a girl, but not like the average love story tell. When we heard the beat, when we did the chorus and made a couple of versions, it was like: ‘a girl should be on it. This sounds like Nelly Furtado.’ I could really hear Nelly Furtado on it. At that time we had heard that she liked us well and one of our label-mates had ran into her in a store and than she was like: ‘Yeah I love them!’ There was a genuine connection. She did the song and she was beautiful. It was a good song.

Now, a few question from one of our website visitors. Would you work together with Plain Creative?

Chali 2na:
With who?

Akil:
Who is Plain Creative?

It’s the guy who dropped the question. And he also asks if you would come to his after party in Wilnis tonight?

Akil:
In Wilnis?

Chali 2na:
Whahahahaha!

Nu-Mark:
All right!

And his last question: Are you already working on the next album?

Akil:
Definitely. Always. At least in our brains, having ideas and always work in some form of fashion.

Any shout outs?

Akil:
Akil from the J5 MC’s gives shout outs to damn! Who do I know here? Oh, my god! My man Dally who took me out to the club last night. That was cool. I just met him yesterday. Man! I feel bad cause I can’t think of someone else right now. The whole of Holland, Amsterdam area: Much love, much love aight!

Nu-Mark:
Big-ups to Fatbeats.

Chali 2na:
Big respect to Amsterdam. The whole of Amsterdam.

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