Jurassic 5 are alternative hip-hop pioneers. Their influence can be heard in the beats and verses of mainstream rap icons like OutKast all the way to local hip-hop groups like Phoenix's own Drunken Immortals. Though the band has never once gone platinum and have only once gone gold, their reunion was held at Coachella 2013, and as a follow up they played Glastonbury 2014.
Not all acts with such modest sales numbers are still widely regarded as classic hip-hop. Jurassic 5 will be playing a date at Tempe's Marquee Theater as part of their "Word of Mouth Tour" on July 19, and in preparation for their concert and their first trip to Phoenix in who knows how long, we will be pointing out Jurassic 5's top five songs.
1. "Concrete Schoolyard" A prime example of Jurassic 5's use of vocal harmonies to go along with a one of their most "chill" beats. It's a really smooth song off of their eponymous debut album, and the chorus of Gazoo's is something that contemporary hip-hop does not really allow for anymore. "Concrete Schoolyard" is just a great song that really highlights what J5 is all about. Socially conscious hip-hop that doesn't take itself too seriously, yet mellow and upbeat enough throw on at gatherings.
2. "What's Golden" "What's Golden" is a bit more of an upbeat dance track than a lot of J5's other songs but they stay true to their vocal harmonies and smooth sounds. The song is from their 2002 album Power In Numbers, on Interscope records. There is obviously more production behind Power in Numbers than their earlier work, but they still stick by the Jurassic 5 formula of having each lyricists take a verse, and then a collectively spoken chorus.
3. "Unified Rebelution" The group's first single "Unified Rebelution" has to make the list because it's a great song. It's not nearly as professional and polished as the groups work with Interscope, but that's what makes it so good. Anyone with ears can hear through this song that Jurassic 5 has a lot of talent, and combined with the resources of Interscope they were able to realize more of their potential. The song is done in more of the "boom bap" style of hip-hop with a sample heavy beat (another trademark of the group) but one that just doesn't sound quite as complete as the beats on their later tracks.
4. "Work it Out" Featuring Dave Mathews Band Not every hip-hop group could get away with making a song with the Dave Matthews Band but Jurassic 5's credentials are impeccable and they can just about anything they want. Of course with two socially conscious artists working together the song takes on some socially conscious themes, but it's still a very fun laid back track incorporating a great beat, and an acoustic guitar sample a la "Dave." Oh, and the video is spectacular.
5. "Hard Times" Featuring Pharcyde Rounding out the list will be J5's collaboration with another well respected group from the alt hip-hop genre "Hard Times" which they made along with Pharcyde. Both groups styles are just a little bit different than the styles of many of their contemporaries and for the track the two groups mixed their two styles to create one psychedelic track. There is a little bit more going on with the beat than their traditionally is in a J5 song, but that can be attributed to the collaboration with Pharcyde. It just sounds like instead of striving to show the best of both group styles with the song they just put it all out there wholeheartedly from both sides and made one great son.
Jurassic 5 is scheduled to play the Marquee Theatre on Saturday, July 19.
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