album reviews

    Jurassic 5

    “”Power in Numbers””

    Interscope

    ****

    “”We take it back to the days of yes y’all-in’, we holding onto what’s golden,”” boast MCs Chali 2na, Zaakir, Akil and Marc 7, backed by DJs Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist, on “”What’s Golden,”” the first single off Jurassic 5’s second full-length album. This proves to be more than mere braggadocio, as “”Power in Numbers”” lives up to the group’s substantial hype and widely acknowledged potential.

    After delivering a mouthwatering, self-produced EP in 1997 (later rereleased by Interscope), J5 slowly made their way from the L.A. underground, a hip-hop scene that generated like-minded groups such as The Pharcyde, into the mainstream. Their 2000 full-length album “”Quality Control”” and its eponymous single garnered hefty support from various outlets such as MTV2.

    A slot on the 2000 Vans Warped Tour ensured Jurassic 5’s crossover appeal, putting them in the same league as contemporaries Black Eyed Peas and The Roots.

    “”Power in Numbers”” is said by Marc 7 to be “”a sign of the times,”” with a “”darker, harder edge”” than the group’s previous work. Social commentary, such as, “”If you wanna fight the power get the power to fight,”” from the song “”Sum of Us,”” abounds, usually with enough conviction not to sound trite or forced.

    Elsewhere, the band sounds looser, with a Beastie Boys-esque sense of fun. “”Well, it’s the verbal Herman Munster,”” declares Charlie 2na on “”What’s Golden,”” completely stealing the show.

    Changes in lyrical direction and musical approach help the album avoid stagnancy. “”Thin Line,”” a mellow pop song that ponders hypothetical relationships between men and women, features guest vocals by a deftly understated Nelly Furtado and directly follows the bouncing, jovial “”What’s Golden.””

    Other guest appearances, such as by lyricists Percee P and Big Daddy Kane on the fast-paced “”A Day at the Races”” and producer JuJu from the Beatnuts on “”If You Only Knew,”” further enrich the sound of the album without diverting attention from the group’s own MCs and DJs.

    The group sometimes gets lost in its struggle to be both amiable and profound. The unfortunately titled “”I Am Somebody”” includes empty lyrics like “”lead and never follow”” that fall flat against a party-funk backdrop.

    Ultimately, the group’s adventurousness and conflicting senses of fun and worldly awareness make “”Power in Numbers”” an intriguing, standout release.

    — Billy Gil

    Contributing Writer

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