Jurassic 5 made an instant name for themselves with the release of their self-titled EP; like the Freestyle Fellowship before them (also regulars at the now-legendary Good Life Cafe), J5 were a Los-Angeles-based crew of old school hip-hop purists that sounded like they had come straight outta the schoolyard. With sparse, melodic backing tracks, the attention here is placed squarely on the four MCs, who--each with their own sound and style--come across as the hip-hop equivalent to a street-corner doo-wop group. Quality Control
, the group's first proper album, is a history lesson wrapped around a tribute, stuffed with quality and innovation: DJs Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist keep things moving with tight production and great tracks--no one in hip-hop does more with music designed not to call too much attention to itself--while Chali 2Na, Akil, Marc 7 and Zaakir (Soup) weave intricate routines.
Not as self-conciously hip as the Beastie Boys or as political as Blackalicious, the J5 MCs still hit all the right notes, name checking everyone from Lionel Hampton to Grand Puba, the Funky Four +1 and the Treacherous Three while boasting of "Original beats with real live MCs / Playground tactics, no rabbit-in-a-hat tricks / Just that classic rap hit from Jurassic" ("Concrete and Clay", a re-worked version of the original EP's "Concrete Schoolyard"). Think of them like the hip-hop Temptations, with the 6-foot-15-inch (or so) basso profundo Chali 2Na as the group's David Ruffin. Modern turntablism and a pre-Run DMC, Rock Steady Crew mindset mixed together, J5 are showmen--and Quality Control displays those talents admirably. --Randy Silver