June 23, 2017 - For Beatroute BC. Review by Joshua Erickson.
While mainstream and commercial rap continues to dominate radio and the internet, Jurassic 5’s stop in Vancouver certainly made a case for the enduring love and relevance of backpack rap. Performing the first of two sold out shows at the Commodore Ballroom, the crowd showed up early and excited for the Los Angeles rap collective’s first proper Vancouver show since J5 reunited in 2013. By the time the group took the stage just after 10:15pm, the Commodore was completely packed and the well liquored up crowd was ready to party.
Opening the set with the first of several playful DJ battles, veterans DJs Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark got the crowd hyped up with their technical antics on the tables, followed by the MCs taking the stage one-by-one. While the crowd seemed ready and the group seemed eager, the show itself started off a bit slow and lacked some vital energy through the first few songs. However, after getting into the groove and some crowd interaction, the crowd and the J5 finally found the right vibe together and the room became electric.
Throughout the years, Jurassic 5’s sophisticated and socially conscious brand of hip-hop has aged well and each and every member of the group was able to display their skill and proficiency in a crowd pleasing manner. Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark squared off numerous times, showing off their specific skillsets as well as homemade equipment, including Cut Chemist’s hilarious novelty turntable guitar.
Zaakir made the biggest impression, with a sharp voice and a flow surpassing even his level recorded. Chali 2na with his unmistakable baritone was clearly the fan favourite, with Mr. Tuna Fish receiving the biggest crowd reception and many in the audience knowing his bars and verses word for word. Rounded out by Marc 7 and Akil, even though Jurassic 5 is getting up there in age, the sold out shows prove there is still place for J5 in the modern hip-hop landscape. Though the show started out slow, when everything clicked it was fire, with the whole floor dancing and singing/rapping along. Takin’ it back to the concrete streets indeed.