Back around the turn of the Millennium, when chart hip-hop was all guns and bling, a collective emerged from LA that went refreshingly against the grain. While 50 Cent was gettin’ rich (and not dyin’ tryin’), Jurassic 5 harked back to the old school with funky breaks and good time vibes. Sure, there was plenty of self-aggrandising thrown into the mix, but it was always more playful and celebratory than the macho posturing of their gangsta rap peers.
J5‘s trademark sound was characterised by the interplay between the four MCs, and instantly recognisable among them is the rich, lilting baritone of Chali 2na. Now, as a solo agent, he more than holds his own. 2na’s latest adventure seems him team up with UK producer Krafty Kuts, as hip-hop’s answer to Interpol (the international crime fighting organisation, not the band). The dynamic duo don their capes and spandex for a mock superhero caper... introducing the Purple Assassin and his able sidekick, the Scratchman!
The pairing suits both parties well. The premise is all a bit silly, but who cares when it’s this much fun? What at first appears a low-stake outing is clearly a labour of love too, each demonstrating a mastery of his craft. It’s a rich collection that rewards repeated listens.
The funky vibe is in-keeping with 2na’s earlier work, but with a curiously appealing British twist courtesy of Krafty Kuts. But then Chali 2na has long been an anglophile, teaming up with Roots Manuva back in 2001 for ‘Join the Dots’ on the latter’s cult classic ‘Run Come Save Me’.
‘Guard the Fort’ gets things off to a good start, while ‘Superheroes AA’ is a standout – a re-imagining of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for superheroes, featuring inspired guest spots from Dynamite MC and Essex’s own Harry Shotta, among others. Throughout, tracks are interspersed with skits and mock movie voiceovers that will resonate with fans of MF Doom’s cartoonish alter-ego Viktor Vaughn.
It’s a dark world out there, but thankfully these new superheroes have arrived just in the knick of time, ready to bring a little light back into our lives.
Words: Felix Rowe
- - -
- - -