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Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2002


Jurassic 5

As a workplace, the underground has its advantages, the main one being that no one is looking over your shoulder. Jurassic 5 are the acknowledged leaders of the West Coast underground hip-hop movement, even though they aspire to be popular entertainers, a vocation that normally demands the cold, harsh light of day. That might only sound like a paradox to someone who didn't know that De La Soul, probably the funniest rap group on the planet, are the acknowledged fathers of the East Coast underground hip-hop movement.

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Containing four MCs who have the gall to rap in harmony, as well as two DJs whose adherence to the old school is best exemplified by the group's very name, Jurassic 5 is relatively uninterested in socioeconomics and completely caught up in having fun and blowing people's minds with their ideas. Chali 2na, who raps bass, as it were, is the group's self-appointed funnyman, a tall, gangly show-off who likes nothing better than to freestyle a lot of nonsense while pretending that he's making perfect sense.

Sound sculptors Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist, the man responsible for giving DJ Shadow a sense of humor, prefer '70s funk and Latin grooves, but they'll also turn a rockabilly sample into something that sounds like big band swing (not as difficult as it sounds, if you think about it).

Since they first started making music in 1993, J5 have only released one album and one EP, a catalog that indicates not so much mistrust of the recording business or -- God forbid -- laziness, but rather generosity. Everybody on the crew works with other musicians, whether it's the Latin dance collective Ozomatli or fellow undergrounders on either coast or any number of young turntablists who need a helping hand with production or flow. In fact, seeing them all in one place these days is a rare and special treat, so miss these shows at your peril.

Jurassic 5: Feb. 6 at Shinjuku Liquid Room; Feb. 7 at Club Citta, Kawasaki. Shows start at 7 p.m.; tickets are 6,000 yen in advance. For more information, call Creativeman Productions at (03) 5466-0777.

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