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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Jurassic-5
Feedback
Interscope

Rating: 7/10 ?


August 21, 2006
We can all imagine living poolside with strippers, driving fast cars and sipping diamond dropped champagne in the club. But who could imagine achieving that success and wealth by shouting primal cadences not found in a dictionary to a beat conjured up by an $800 software program? The way cuts unroll now we often wonder if we're actually listening to music or a commercial, and there is certainly not enough bandwidth on this site to discuss the damage that commercial rap has inflicted on actual music.

A renegade group with a penchant for steering hip-hop away from materialism and back to the past is refreshingly appropriate for the times and for more than a decade the LA supergroup Jurassic 5 has set out to be the Clark Kent of hip-hop; foiling all that is evil in a modest and lame manner. Exciting and energetic on stage, J-5 contains four talented MC's and the progressive production of the DJ/producer combination of Nu Mark and Cut Chemist. I love their positive attitude, energy, and resistance to the mainstream, which is the primary reason why it is so difficult for me to say that they bore the hell out of me. While their intentions are true, J-5 have become the "Golden Girls" of hip-hop. After releasing their fourth album Feedback, the powerhouse of J-5 has done little to evolve and differentiate itself from its humble beginnings ten years ago. Singing chorus lines collectively while rapping about random, often irrelevant topics in tag-team style faded out with Kangoos and Adiddas jumpsuits, but Jurassic-5 come like the ultimate throwback to past. I understand that they are "holding on to what's golden," but that is why people collect records - to hold a document of the past while the artist forges into new territory.

Feedback does little to break Jurrasic-5 from the "yes ya'allin" mold, and on many tracks the quartet are resigned to simply fall back into the causal synchronized hooks and 80's style flows they built their franchise on. In fact, the cuts "Radio" and "In the House" are tributes to the early days of break dancing, when a flattened cardboard box and a boombox on the sidewalk were all a summer afternoon needed to feel complete. As in previous efforts, nothing stands out lyrically on Feedback, the group generally content to fade into the routine of each rapper systemically taking turns in finishing another's thoughts, the communal voice leaving little room for MC's to individually showcase their flows.

While lyrically generic, the uniqueness of Feedback is born of the beats and the diversified layout, providing for an ultimately entertaining listen. Jurassic-5's well hooked connectivity helped them team up with Dave Matthews for the alterna-hippy track "Work it Out," and with turntablist Cut Chemist focusing on his solo career, DJ Nu Mark stepped up and delivered quality instrumentals; "Gotta Understand" takes a Curtis Mayfield groove and mixes it with horns. Many of the tracks contain subtle samples and cuts across different genres of music, a perhaps unintentional but nonetheless appropriate tribute to the most complex samples of the recently departed Jay Dee (RIP). The conclusion track, "Canto Ossanha," wraps up the album with a full-blown instrumental of Cuban beats, Spanish acoustical guitar, and a Baskin Robbins variety of samples.

Unless self-redundancy is a major hang-up, one should not take my personal bias of groups stuck in ancient times as a factor when checking out Feedback. Overall, the diversity of the production overcomes the same-ness of the verses to make Feedback worth a listen. On the other hand if verbal rehash is just too trying, I would recommend waiting for the instrumental version to be released.

Reviewed by Ted Nixon
A contributing writer based in Oakland, California, Ted Nixon covers hip-hop releases for LAS.

See other reviews by Ted Nixon

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