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[whitespace] In the Flesh

Jurassic 5 gets real atop a booming Palookaville hip-hop lineup loaded with show-stealers

By David Espinoza

FOR ANYONE who still doubts hip-hop's preeminence in today's musical landscape, consider the jampacked house at Palookaville Feb. 15. From the outside, P-Ville looked like a convention of all locals under 30, with people attempting to get inside practically anyway they could. The reason? Jurassic 5, a group of four MCs and two DJs who are bringing back the positive, old-school days of hip-hop, were headlining.

However, the pair of MCs who hit the stage second on the bill, the Latyrx (pronounced la-TEER-icks), came dangerously close to outshining the headliners. Part of the Bay Area hip-hop collective Quannum, MCs Lateef and Lyrics Born illustrated what it means to be a real-life dynamic duo, boomeranging each others' yin-and-yang energies back and forth with superb balance. Within the first few minutes of their set, the way they righteously commanded the audience's attention showed that these were no ordinary rhymers.

Like their Bay Area neighbors the Most Chill Slack Mob, the Latyrx incorporate an exceptional number of styles into their hip-hop brew without diluting any one part. It's as refreshing as it is inspirational and might someday earn them widespread success. The first thing the Latyrx have to do, though, is get out and tour more. Recorded singles don't come close to showing off the pair's explosive live show.

If some of the crowd at Palookaville felt a little apprehensive about third opener Supernatural, it was all quickly forgotten once he took the mic. Introduced by the Jurassic 5's towering baritone Charlie 2-na as a "close personal friend," Supernatural wasted no time in winning the audience with impersonations of Busta Rhymes, the Notorious B.I.G., the Goodie Mob and countless others.

This was only a prelude, though, to Supernatural's (ahem) supernatural talent: freestyling. The long-dreaded MC asked the crowd to take anything from their pockets, hand it to him and hear him work it into a rhyme. Folks began to stare instead of dance as he plucked glasses, condoms, records and other pieces of junk from the crowd and articulated rhymes about them without hesitation.

By the time J-5 finally arrived on stage, the room was ready. J-5 played a roughly 50-minute set that included hits "Jayou" and "In the Flesh," though conspicuously excluding their very first hit single. Backing the crew up were the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda of turntablists, Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark, a pair who could probably headline their own separate gig--and they were rightly given plenty of space to solo.

While the Jurassic crew certainly provided the closing chapter to a very eventful show, the group as a whole didn't really offer any climatic points in following up Supernatural and the Latyrx. (Or, for that matter, outdoing the band's own Cut Chemist.) Even Charlie 2-na had a difficult time reaching his own deep notes, and the group didn't do an encore. Then again, with all the touring they've done in the last year, not to mention putting out an EP, the Jurassic 5 deserve a little slack. The group's first full-length on a major label is still a few months off, and for them, this is only the beginning.

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From the February 23-March 1, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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