Jurassic 5, Quality Control

It would be too much to say that Jurassic 5’s new album is one of the greatest hip-hop records ever, but on a smaller scale, Quality Control is certainly destined to become a touchstone of modern hip-hop. Like the Root’s Things Fall Apart, Quality Control should go down as one of the albums of the past five years that grabbed hip-hop by its ears and turned it around to face the future grounded in its history.

Jurassic 5 invoke the best of hip-hop’s pioneers: De La Soul, Eric B and Rakim and even, Kurtis Blow. Like the Roots, Jurassic 5 eschew the spastic busy beats and one sample Puff Daddy trick of so much of pop rap today. J5 rely on samples pulled from old records. The warm crackle of the records sampled is clearly audible just like on old De La Soul albums. Like De La and Tribe Called Quest, J5’s samples draw heavily on obscure jazz and classical records. Laid on top of old-skool beats, J5’s sound is much more organic than most other rap.

“Jurass Finish First” bops along with a simple piano sample complemented by a cello and horn. The sound is instantly classic. And the voices play perfectly together. Throughout the album, the MCs play off the timbre of each other’s voices. It is a talent rarely heard in other hip-hop groups. J5 use their voices as instruments. When rapping in unison, they often harmonize. (To distance them further from their contemporaries, J5 could spell “harmonize”)

The recent resurgence of turntablism as well as the dearth of fresh, stylish hip-hop hopefully will result in J5 selling a great deal of records. Regardless, this album will be in the record collection of every important hip-hop luminary. And that says more about this album than anything else could.