Five Best Songs From Jurassic 5’s ‘Quality Control’ Album
Boom-bap enthusiasts Jurassic 5 are one of the more respected rap crews in the history of L.A. hip-hop.
Comprised of MCs Chali 2na, Zaakir, Marc 7, Akil and producers DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist, the group was originally two separate collectives: the Unity Committee (Chali 2na, Marc 7 and Cut Chemist) and the Rebels of Rhythm (Akil and Zaakir). They decided to join forces after gaining mutual respect for each other's live shows.
In 1995, the group recorded the song "Unified Rebelution" and caught traction on the underground, which lead to a deal with Blunt Records and a self-titled EP released in 1997. The project was met with rave reviews from critics and rap-heads alike.
The buzz of the EP piqued the interest of Interscope Records. The label eventually welcomed Jurassic 5 to their roster and repackaged the self-titled EP with additional tracks and released it as a full-length album in December of 1998. While the LP expanded Jurassic 5's fan base, it wasn't until their official major label debut, Quality Control, was released in 2000, that the hodgepodge of wordsmiths and boardsman got the chance to show the masses how they'd developed as a group and the brand of music they had to offer.
Released on June 20, 2000, Quality Control was far from a runaway success and peaked at No. 43 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was lauded by critics for its use of rhyme routines that were popularized by rap pioneers, knocking beats and endless blend of style and substance.
Quality Control turns 15 today, so it's only right that we take a trip back to the turn of the century, dust this classic off and break down the five tracks we feel make this album special. Check out Five Best Songs From Jurassic 5's Quality Control Album.
"It took 10 years, for me to pressure cook my fears / No my front line rhymes moving up from the rear / My dream slash career appeared ever so clear / Now I'm able to touch, smell, feel, speak, and hear," raps Akil on "Great Expectations." Produced by DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist, the record samples Larry Coryell's "The Great Escape" and features sturdy kicks, snares and horns over while the 5 kick intricate rhyme patterns with panache and finesse. Charlie 2na comes through with a rewind-worthy showing by spitting, "Go get your ticket, your seats, snacks and beverages / While we get wicked all in your brain cracks and crevices / Servicing bulletins to you critical puritans / Who be shouting in my vicinity, doubting my capability." He takes it back to the '84 Fresh Fest before Marc 7 and Zaakir complete the cipher with wordy verses of their own.
Jurassic 5 take it to the black top with the round-ball friendly cut, "The Game." Taking terms dropping basketball references over production courtesy of Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark, the rhyming quarter all come with their A-Game and throw props to everyone from Dr. J to Vince Carter within the flow of the track. Intertwining rhymes and timely adlibs, Chali 2na, Akil, Zaakir and Mark 7 run a lyrical full-court press and turn in a jam-packed selection that is conceptually superb and sonically pleasing.
Listeners get hit with a delightful ditty in the form of "Jurassic Finish First." Powered by keys, violins, horns and dusty drums provided by DJ Nu-Mark, the production is air-tight and sonically unique to anything featured on the album. Chali 2na and Marc 7 volley bars back and forth and display a chemistry that is a testament to their years spent ripping cyphers and shows in the local L.A. rap scene. "Jurass Finish First" may be missing Akil and Zaakir on the lyrical tip, but their partners in rhyme hold down the fort effortlessly and deliver a great record for their troubles.
"Either you part of the problem or you part of the solution / What's your contribution to life," asks Jurassic 5 on the thoughtful selection, "Contribution." Produced by SLJ, the beat contains digitized drums and a sample of "Soulman" by Ray Bryant that collide with each other and makes for a haunting soundscape. Weaving tales of interactions between man and woman from various vantage points throughout the verses, the song comes full circle when the group speak on the affects those encounters have on the youth and how they contribute to society as a whole. The subject matter may be a bit heavy in comparison to the more hearty tunes featured on Quality Control, but it's a winner nonetheless and proves Jurassic 5 isn't all vintage rhyme routines and backpacker musings.
Q-Tip may have warned us of "industry rule #4080," but Jurassic 5 makes sure to call out one-hit wonders, sucker MCs and the game that is show business on "World Of Entertainment (WOE Is Me)." Rhyming in harmony and with the precision of tenured performers, the L.A. reps do work over sturdy drums and a sample lifted from jazz pianist Thomas Clausen's "Bio Rhythm #9," provided by DJ Nu-Mark. "Welcome to the wonderful world of entertainment / Where art imitates life and people get famous / Welcome to the world of showbiz arrangements / Where lights, camera, action if the language," they serve on the chorus, giving a run-down of the more unsavory parts of the music industry. Jurassic 5 crafts an indelible treat that stands as one of the better songs on the LP.