Jurassic 5

Jurassic 5

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Clocking in at only half the running time of your average rap album circa 1997, Jurassic 5's debut was the most refreshing hip-hop release of the year, and not just because it abandoned the epic-length concepts of the rap mainstream. With old-school vibes to spare, excellent rhythmatic raps, and the production genius of Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark, EP finally delivered on all the diverse talents promised by the growing hip-hop underground. "Jayou" is a flute-loop classic, and "Concrete Schoolyard" has that nostalgic "can it all be so simple" vibe so rarely heard from hip-hop. Interspersed with the songs are instrumentals, usually laced with the most obscure samples a veteran crate-digger could hope to shovel up, including an instructional record that listed definitions of common science terms and another that pointed out the absurdity of playing Led Zeppelin next to Frank Sinatra. This, of course, was what the group naturally did (it was actually Sinatra over Zeppelin), on "Lesson 6: The Lecture," titled in tribute to Steinski.) Here then was the answer for the legion of rap fans hoping to hear the same top-rank rapping that major labels often featured, along with the edgy productions and DJing that turntablists made standard. It was the perfect balance of quality and experimentation, all delivered in a slim 20 minutes.

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