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Jurassic 5

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Zaakir (Soup) and Nu-Mark, am: 25.05.2003 ]

Angefangen hat alles an einem Donnerstag Abend in einem Naturkostladen namens "Good Life Cafe" in L.A., wo die beiden Teams Rebels of Rhythm und Unity Committee bei einer der wöchentlichen Open-Mic Nights aufeinandertrafen und man schnell merkte, dass man den Style der anderen zu schätzen wusste. Daraus resultierte eine der besten Hip Hop Formationen der Neuzeit, die mit ihren beiden Longplayern "Quality Control" und "Power In Numbers" zwei hochkarätige Hip Hop Alben abseits jeglicher Gangster- und Popklischees schufen, die sich eher an den Old-School Tagen von A Tribe Called Quest oder De La Soul orientieren als an momentanen MTV-Geschichten. Anlässlich ihrer vor kurzem stattgefundenen Europatour sprach ich mit MC Zaakir (Soup) und DJ Nu-Mark vor ihrer grandiosen Show im Heidelberger Karlstorbahnhof über die Medienlandschaft, die Kindheit und Politik.


Musicscan: Would you say that you attract mostly hip hop kids or do you see a broad variety of kids at your shows?

Jurassic 5: Soup: I don't know. I just look at them as people, whatever their forte of music is. But I guess they have to have an idea and like hip hop in order to be there. But I wouldn't say it is strictly hip hop people. I don't assume that people only like hip hop, I would think that they probably like all kinds of music.

Musicscan: How has Los Angeles and South Central in particular shaped you as individuals and artists?

Jurassic 5: Soup: That's where we're from. Everybody would have to give you their interpretation of how it shaped them. For me, my father really did it. It wasn't LA. It just happened that I was born and raised there. My father instilled music and instruments and I have always made an effort to expand on it as much as possible.

Musicscan: I believe you worked on "Powers In Numbers" for about 18 months...

Jurassic 5: Soup: I don't know the exact months. I know they were plenty, but please don't ask me exactly how long. We just worked until we were comfortable with it. It could have been that long, I don't know. I just wanted to get it right, I didn't care how long it took.

Musicscan: Was there any pressure from Interscope?

Jurassic 5: Soup: No, they barely bat an eye at us.

Musicscan: That's quite unusual, isn't it?

Jurassic 5: Soup: No, why do you think that is unusual?

Musicscan: Well, from a lot of other bands I hear that they are pressured by the label to get the record done and deliver.

Jurassic 5: Soup: Oh, that situation yes. But we made sure that Interscope gave us 100% creative control. That is why they had interest in us in the first place. They were nowhere in the mix when we put out our EP. They were kind enough to grant us 100% creative control. I didn't know that meant never look, but that is what's happening.
Nu-Mark: I think it was more like 5 or 6 months of recording actually, because we were touring a lot. We would stop a tour and then record some songs and then tour again and then record some more songs. On again, off again.

Musicscan: What do you think is the biggest difference between "Quality Control" and "Power In Numbers"?

Jurassic 5: Soup: It's a bigger sound. To me it just sounds more mature than the EP and "Quality Control". We definitely tried to do that and I think it worked...

Musicscan: Do you listen to all different kinds of styles or mostly hip hop?

Jurassic 5: Nu-Mark: Everything. The only thing I don't listen to is opera.
Soup: I don't listen to techno.
Nu-Mark: I listen to techno when I DJ because there is always somebody spinning it. It is not really an enjoyment listening to it, but I am always around it now. Because that seems like what the masses are into these days.

Musicscan: What do you hope people to take away from a J5 show?

Jurassic 5: Nu-Mark: A t-shirt.
Soup: Excitement. That they know when it is over, they can literally go home and say "those guys really put on a good show, they really look like they are into pleasing the crowd." It is important that they got their money's worth, whatever the ticket was. Whether it was free or if they got it at a discount or if they paid the full amount. I just want them to feel satisfied.

Musicscan: Why do you think hip hop has turned into a global phenomenon so quickly with kids all over the world? Are you familiar with any German hip hop bands?

Jurassic 5: Nu-Mark: I know Deichkind. I just got their record. I think it spread out because I think it is good music. Hip hop doesn't just sample soul music or a specific kind of jazz music, hip hop samples everything. There tend to be so many different branches of hip hop because of the different kinds of music that they sample. A Tribe Called Quest were known for sampling jazz, so people who were really into jazz were likely to be into A Tribe Called Quest. RUN DMC like rock, it just branches off into different directions.
Soup: It is also the voice of the youth. It really talks to the youth. Anything that is somewhat rebellious always seems to talk to the youth. I don't know how it evolves, because at the time when rock'n'roll was the forbidden music, it was the youth digging it, the same with jazz and now hip hop. It is just youth oriented. The youth love it, it speaks the truth, because a lot of young people look for the truth. Every time you meet somebody they are like "I just want to find out what's the truth". And they do. I just think it is a very truthful form of expression and they definitely gravitate towards that.

Musicscan: So you wouldn't say that it is predominantly an American phenomenon?

Jurassic 5: Soup: Oh know, it couldn't be just an American phenomenon, it would just be contained in America, but it is all over the world. It is definitely global. I mean it originated from the States, but that was it. I don't think anybody expected it to do what it has done so far.

Musicscan: What attracted you to hip hop when you were a kid?

Jurassic 5: Soup: It was just different. I had always been into soul music and I loved that. Just hearing the person speaking over the words, speaking the words and making them rhyme. I thought that was tight, I was feeling that. I like singing but this was different, but it was still of music I knew of. My first experience was "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang, they used the "Good Times Beat." That was a party anthem. Where I was from, you would throw that on at a party and you were bound to dance for the 10-12 minutes that they recorded that song. It was like "I know this beat and these guys are doing a different style over it" so I was like "I like this" and I told my father "you have to buy this. " And he was like "Do you want to hear that" and I was like "all day, so you might as well buy it", so he bought it. My father was the first to buy me a lot of 12"s, because I didn't have any money back then and he would come back with Run DMC: "I saw this, somebody told me this was good, take this and listen" and I was like "oh that's got flavor."

Musicscan: How about you Mark?

Jurassic 5: Nu-Mark: When I watched other types of music, rock e.g. and new wave at the time, I understood how they did it. With hip hop I didn't understand how they did it. I knew that if you plug in a guitar you are going to get a guitar sound out of it. When I listened to hip hop I didn't understand how they got the drums to sound that big, how they got the samples. I didn't know that it was from old records. It just had a different texture and feel to it and that intrigued me more than anything else. I didn't understand how they were doing it, so I needed to know how they did it and I wanted to do what they were doing.

Musicscan: What do you think about how hip hop is portrayed in the media and where do you see yourself within that framework?

Jurassic 5: Soup: I see myself within everything that they say about hip hop, because I do hip hop music. I don't know if the media really takes time out to get to know the group or discuss the group or the differences between groups. They just classify it as hip hop or they say it is gangster music so they can take about 15 guys and put them into the gangster music category. Or they say it is alternative hip hop and they take us and Black Eyed Peas and some of the other people who don't do gangster rap and put it in that category. I mean it is all hip hop, but the separation and the breaking it down and makes it weaker than it really is. That is what I feel the media does, kill two birds with one stone. Everything is stamped from hip hop. If a bird dies and falls out of a tree, that is the base of hip hop. Make the tree shake. Any time the youth is involved in it, the older folks don't have a problem with it, they don't understand it, they won't know why their kids are running out to those shows. They see people getting stampede at a show and they think it is the music. Another thing is that the media has to keep ratings up. Nobody wants to hear about grass growing, that is boring. Don't you want to hear poor kids drinking and having wild sex and one of them fell off a cliff. That sounds way more exciting. I guess that is why they do it, who knows.

Musicscan: Is it an intention of yours to bring all different kind of kids together with your music and sort of unite them?

Jurassic 5: Nu-Mark: I don't think we go into an album saying "we want to get everyone down with this one". I think we just do what comes naturally to us, because I think we grew up in an era of hip hop when it was really about rocking the party and unifying people. Maybe that is the fuel. We go into a show like "this part has to go with this and this and this", but we never did an album with the intention of getting the punk rockers down with this record for example.
Soup: Maybe people gravitate towards us because it is not threatening sounding.

Musicscan: Would you say you are a political band?

Jurassic 5: Soup: Somewhat. I mean we are not Public Enemy, but we say certain things. I just think you should, there are too many things going on and I think the circumstances make you come to grips with certain things. I mean we do it in a way by saying it without actually stepping on anybody's toes. I definitely feel obligated to say something. If not just to the world then to my people, to the black people I feel like I have to say something. I can't just talk about coming up and being fresh and dope and I can rock the party and this little kid can barely read, but he knows a J5 song. I have to at least say "try to read and listen to the song". Just to go out there and not say anything is not cool.

Musicscan: Do you consider hip hop to be political force in general?

Jurassic 5: Soup: Oh yes. It has always been. First time I heard "The Message" (Grandmaster Flashs Debütalbum - the ed.), I had never heard somebody talk like that. I was born in the 70's so I wasn't there in the very beginning, but I heard the message and I liked that immediately and I related to a lot of stuff immediately. Somebody always says something in hip hop. When Public Enemy came out, I didn't have to think about it and hip hop has just always been political. And it will always be because this is the truest art form to express yourself. It is kids from the streets in hard times or it is just somebody seeing the wrong that is going on and wants to speak out about it. It has the doorway and it is easy to walk through it.

  Jurassic 5