Hip hop all-stars Jurassic 5 returned to LA for an extremely special show at the Greek Theatre Saturday July 12th. The show was made extra surreal by a giant saucer of a full moon and no shortage of fragrant, billowing clouds escaping the theater distorting it.
Beat Junkies and MC Supernatural owned the stage early, the former with flawless turntablism and the latter with some impressively convincing covers. A trip to the concession stand was put on rush order when we heard Busta Rhymes on stage, but low and behold it was Supernatural. Both seemed to have pockets of fans in the theater but lacked the unadulterated energy present later on in the night.
Underground icons Dilated Peoples came on third and almost immediately had every head in the theater moving. The group, consisting of MCs Evidence and Rakaa and DJ Babu, has always been held near and dear within the community and a hometown show at the Greek certainly did little to stunt the excitement of the Peoples and crowd alike.
Jurassic 5 arrived around 9 to deafening applause. The (previously broken up) team of four MCs and two DJs are fresh off a series of reunion concerts and festival appearances but tonight was something different. The group has never played The Greek, a venue ripe with hip hop history. You could tell they were happy to be home.
Despite forming in the early 1900s, the hip hop truly hit their stride in the early 2000s with moderate mainstream success and a string of phenomenal albums like Power in Numbers and Quality Control that rank up there with the best. The crowd seemed to know every single word of their eclectic set starting early with “I Am Somebody” heading all the way to “What’s Golden” late in the encore.
Each MC has their own signature style and cadence, our personal favorite being the “Verbal Herman Munster” himself Chali2na, who’s voice cuts through beats like a hot knife through butter. DJ duties were equally infectious, with legendary turntablist Cut Chemist collaborating with DJ Nu-Mark. Both came down off their booths mid set for a back and forth scratch battle which featured wildly cool portable turntables as well as a giant J5 stage piece that also functioned as a turntable.
Any show at the Greek is a treat but seeing Jurassic 5 here was something else. It’s doubtful they’ll ever return to the venue but here’s hoping that they’ll return period considering the amount of moving parts involved in such a splintered group. While gangster rap may forever stand as LA’s mainstream brand of hip hop, alternative acts like Jurassic 5 represent a decidedly different side of our city’s musical history. Way less angry and way more fun, the world needs more Jurassic 5.