J5 at a crossroads 

Jurassic 5 with X-Clan
The Vogue
Thursday, Aug. 31, 9 p.m.

Over a decade into its career, the Los Angeles hip-hop crew Jurassic 5 finds itself at a crossroads. Seen as forerunners and innovators of the backpacking, cognizant rap community along with the likes of the Roots and Mos Def, the J5 have long walked gracefully along the tightrope of art and commerce. Unfortunately, the initial criticism of the group’s fourth album, Feedback, marks the disintegration of this line into full-on commercialism.

Jurassic 5 suffered a huge blow when Cut Chemist, the craftsman of the group’s most interesting sonic landscapes, left the group after its 2002 masterpiece, Power in Numbers, to pursue a solo career. This loss is felt on Feedback, released last month, where the conscious lyrics become lost amidst a backwash of hodgepodge party beats. Even worse, the album’s single, “Work It Out,” is a pandering piece of pop, complete with a Dave Matthews collaboration.

Since becoming a staple on the summer hippie-festival circuit, Feedback makes sense for the Jurassic 5. Built on simple anthems and meandering jam cuts, the music still exists as an alternative medium in this setting. Hopefully, in a more intimate setting like the Vogue, the group can get back its sense of urgency, and the group’s intelligence and mind-bending delivery can hit the chest and the feet, as opposed to just the latter.

Opening for Jurassic 5 is X-Clan, an Afrocentric, political hip-hop collective from Brooklyn that originally broke up in the early ’90s.

For those of you under 21, you have the opportunity of interacting with Jurassic 5 live. There will also be an in-store signing and DJ session from Jurassic 5 members at Indy CD and Vinyl starting at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

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