Review: Jurassic 5 at Powerstation
Powerstation, March 26
There's probably a medical term for facial cramp.
I don't know what it is but it reached epidemic proportions when Jurassic 5 rolled into town with their infectious, joyous rap last night.
It's hard not to smile when six grown men are so effortlessly displaying their skill and having fun while doing it.
It takes its toll on the cheek muscles though.
Sadly there's a good chance it won't happen again, this being a reunion tour after all.
MCs Chali 2na, Akil, Zaakir and Marc 7, along with DJs Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark parted ways in 2007 citing "musical differences" as the reason behind the split.
But an invitation to play at the iconic festival Coachella recently gave them the impetus to reunite, at least for a little while.
And so Auckland was treated to J5's West-Coast brand of rap - real rap.
It's not about guns, b*****s and bling with them, it's about people and about soul.
They reminded us it was 20 years since they had formed and if wasn't long before they pulled out the big guns like "Jayou" to get the crowd moving with some of the many gems from their eponymous first album.
The inevitable highlight of the night was "Concrete Schoolyard", with it's laid-back piano loop and lyrical mastery.
But it was followed closely by a superbly synchronised version of "Thin Line" - imagine that Robin Thicke song "Blurred Lines" was about 15,000 times better and not chauvinistic rubbish and you're getting close.
Akil was a silver-dredded, languid funk octopus, Zaakir smoother than a pebble and Marc 7 lyrically flawless.
But it was Chali 2na who dominated the stage with his 2.03-metre frame and a voice deeper than an ocean trench.
His constant smile made him an instant favourite with everyone who packed the Powerstation.
However, it was the two DJs who nearly stole the show with a brilliantly ridiculous routine while the rappers had a breather.
Both Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark donned bizarre musical costumes and Willy Wonka-esque instruments to bust out a version of Dead Prez's classic "Hip Hop" track.
Not only did the show span the group's four-album career in the industry but their was a wide variety of inter-song discussion.
One minute Zaakir was giving relationship advice - "women, I love y'all. But y'all love to talk" - the next he was giving a sporting commentary on the woes of the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was brilliant, even the cheesy put-your-hands-in-the-air-if-you're-having-a-good-time moments.
Groups like Jurassic 5 probably wouldn't be considered "commercially viable" by record companies nowadays but it's good to be reminded how rap was great and how it still can be.
- Jurassic 5 play Christchurch's Bedford Marquee tonight
- Chali 2na plays solo shows with the House of Vibe on April 23 at The Studio, Auckland; April 24 at Bar Bodega, Wellington.