YOU'VE GOT TO respect Jurassic 5 for mastering the art of slow, steady rep building. For a group that as of three months ago had only a couple of EPs and a handful of singles to their name, they've been popping up everywhere, particularly on compilations like Lyricist Lounge and The Funky Precedent. But it didn't take long for people to get antsy about a full-length. Considering all the delays it was saddled with (an EP from last year is stickered "Debut full-length coming Fall '99"), Quality Control can't afford to be anticlimactic.
Having come within smelling distance of the Billboard Top 40, Quality Control seems to have reached enough living rooms and ear goggles to have satisfied somebody. But how does this chunk of Angeleno boom-bap sound? Like an album that's been delayed half a year, that's how. That ain't a knock--I'd rather hear the end product of lots of elbow grease and relentless tweaking to perfection than the Jiffy Crunk ten-minute lazy-assed production jobs that McDonaldize so much mainstream rap. DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist handle tag-team beat-assembly duties, and despite the fact that having two DJs technically makes the Jurassic 5 a sextet, the extra personnel are far from redundant. They demonstrate that skilled turntablists actually can produce straight-ahead hip hop as well as insane crossfader gymnastics like the double-team hi-hat beatdown of the album's closing track, "Swing Set."
Even more distinctive is the ability of the crew's four MCs (including the unmistakable bass of Chali 2Na) to meld into a group harmony almost mechanical in its perfection. You'd have to look back to Run-D.M.C. to find a crew that makes the delivery sound as impressive and important as the lyrical content--and hell, there were only two MCs in that group. Much has been made about J5's old-school reverence and underground defensiveness, an attitude that fuels lines like "Don't judge us by bank accounts and big cars/No matter how bright we shine we're far from being stars/'Cause stars fall and disintegrate." But while these purists' back-to-the-roots approach teeters hazardously close to cliché, you tend not to notice (or care) when the group rhymes kick in.
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