May 24, 2009

Jurassic 5 - Quality Control (June 20, 2000)

I loathe the fact that the Jurassic 5 are considered to be an "alternative" rap group simply because they don't rhyme about drugs, violence, or bitches. Anyway, Quality Control, the second album (and first major label effort) from the combined talents of rappers Chali 2na, Zaakir, Akil, and Marc 7, and producers-slash-deejays Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark, hit store shelves in the summer of 2000 amidst a barrage or attempts to get the crew airplay. I remember seeing the video for the title track on a regular basis all over MTV (I think it was considered "buzzworthy" or something), and the Jurassic 5 even managed to get some play on my local radio station, which today would never happen, as they are awash in a wave of crappy Soulja Boy songs.

My wife actually picked this up for me at a Best Buy for six bucks (I suppose that was Interscope Record's way of promoting Quality Control: cheap enough to become an impulse purchase, like a pack of gum or the National Enquirer). I played this fucker from start to finish for at least a month: I thought it was that good. But then, inexplicably, I threw it into one of my boxes and hadn't come across it again (until today, anyway). I'm still not sure why. I once believed that I was subconsciously disappointed in the fact that the Jurassic 5 weren't able to fulfill all of their commitments on the Vans Warped Tour that year because of the bus crash that left Chali 2na with a metal plate in his head, but that's a truly fucked up and selfish reason (but at least I'm being honest with myself). I'm sure the true story is that I moved on to another disc, as I am apt to do.

I heard somewhere that Quality Control managed to move over five hundred thousand copies worldwide. If that's true, kudos to the late group, who broke up a couple of years ago and have yet to produce any output of substance (except for Chali 2na, who appeared on Prince Paul's Dino 5 project, which everybody reading this should run out and purchase right now.)

How goes Quality Control?

A passable rap album intro, since someone had to actually dig to find those dialogue samples.

The first song on Quality Control is just a fun listen, an atmosphere that the rappers do nothing but contribute to. This ends up being a pretty good foreshadowing of the rest of the album.

I was worried about the sound at first, thanks to the weird samples utilized, but once the beat actually kicked in, everything was all good. Other than the occasional cursing, this is some shit that you can blast at home without your parents getting upset, except at the bass and the BPMs. Unlike Hip Hop Isn't Dead itself, which is all cursing and BPMs.

A relatively short interlude that sets up the next track.

The lead-off single, which sounds good enough to warrant its selection as the only song positioned to sell the album, but unorthodox enough to establish that Jurassic 5 are unlike most of the other rappers in California, in that they're not talking about killing anybody. This song was where I first heard Chali 2na's distinctive voice.

Not an actual rap song, but a deejay cut, which, while it is pleasant to listen to, is short enough to not distract attention away from the rest of the Jurassic 5.

Jurassic 5's ode to Los Angeles, in which they essentially state that it's not for everybody, kind of like Tae Bo, waterboarding, and Indian food. The drop by Sherman Hemsley was a nice (and unexpected) touch.

This is weakest track on Quality Control so far. Sorry, but that's all it deserves.

Getting back into the groove, “Monkey Bars” returns to the fun-loving shit-talking that the Jurassic 5 are best known for. The beat incorporates a seemingly infinite number of samples, resulting in what is simply a great fucking track.

With a title like that, I suppose it's only appropriate that the beat sounds like something that one would listen to while running in a marathon. Or is that just me?

Actually very depressing, and the hook makes you question your very existence. Not exactly what I look for in my hip hop, but when Jurassic 5 decide to get serious, they get serious.

This song sounds alright (great title, by the way), but it's not very memorable.

13. GAME
So whatever happened with Chali 2na's solo album? I know he released that Fish Market mixtape, but if anybody in this crew deserves a record deal, it would be that guy. I don't mean to single him out specifically, though: all of the rappers sound really good over this track.

This song originally appeared on the Jurassic 5 LP (an expanded version of their debut EP that was released everywhere except in the United States) and, as a result, sounds a bit dated, but it still works. Because everybody else in the world already heard "Improvise", they received "Concrete & Clay" instead, which is alright. This explains why there is mention of "Concrete & Clay" in the jewel case inlay of my copy.

This is another deejay cut, and at over five minutes long, it overstays its welcome, so much so that you'll be tempted to fake a yawn and shout to nobody in particular that it's late and you have to get to work early in the morning. (This isn't a DJ Shadow album, so tracks such as these at ridiculous lengths are unnecessary.) It is a pleasant enough way to end an album, I suppose, since not enough rap albums conclude with an ode to swing music.

Readers in Australia (I'm sure there's at least one of you) received a two-disc set of Quality Control, with the second disc containing the instrumentals of all of the songs on the album. Bastards!

FINAL THOUGHTS: Quality Control is still an album that I genuinely enjoy listening to. The charisma and chemistry between the four rappers, and the work by both deejays, all mesh to create a fine final product. Musically, this shit is just fun, and even the “serious” songs have playful elements to them. If I had one major complaint, it would be that Chali 2na is the only rapper that really stands out, with a deep voice that sounds like he woke up with a sore throat and decided to run with it. The other three rappers kind of blend together, but all four are capable emcees, so that's not as much a problem as you may think.

BUY OR BURN? I think you should buy this. Why the hell not? It's entertaining, and isn't that what music is supposed to do?

BEST TRACKS: “Influence”; “Quality Control”; “Improvise”; “Monkey Bars”; “Jurass Finish First”; “Great Expectations”


Jurassic 5 – EP


  1. "not enough rap albums conclude with an ode to swing music"

    True, indeed!

  2. I only liked Quality control from this album, cant wait for Chali 2na's debut which drops July 7th btw

  3. until this album I thought an album full of battle rap could do no harm. Anyway Rock from Helta Skelta NEEDS to make something with Chali 2na NOW. They should form some Outkastish type group.

  4. yep, and the instrumental disc is a classic in its own right Max.

    Peace from australia!

  5. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessMay 25, 2009

    The beat from "Jurass Finish First" always sounded like something that would play on a carousel at an amusement park. Oddly, it's my favorite song on here possibly because of Charli being featured.

  6. Another CLASSIC album with exceptional commentary from Max. I had to put this album in rotation after I first saw your posting a couple of days ago, and I must say, it's so refreshing to hear it!

    I still hear rumors of a Chali 2na solo album but I think Akil or Zaakir may beat him to the punch.

  7. Just read the comments... d1af you serious? July 7th?