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old school classic "JURASSIC 5 interview"
by Bevan Jee
BEVAN: Jurassic 5 is a collective of two groups "The Unity Committee" (Charlie Tuna, Marc S.E.V.E.N and Cut Chemist) and "The
Rebels of Rhythm"
(Zaakir and Akil). Tell us a bit about these two groups and how Jurassic 5
all came together.
We met at this spot called the Good Life where a lot of underground MC's hang.
They've got a talent showcase there on Thursday nights. The Rebels of Rhythm
(we) went down and performed one night. The Unity Committee performed the same
night and they came up to us after the show and was like "Yo! we liked your
show" and we were like "We liked yours too, maybe we could hook up for a song
and stuff". The song didn't come about till about a year and a half later. Cut
Chemist had came up with a beat and he hooked up with us for some lyrics on
it. Rebels of Rhythm (we) were doing an old school type of flow. We had a beat
that was basically old school so we done something, came back and let them hear
it and then Charlie Tuna and Marc S.E.V.E.N got on it. It turned out that Unified
Rebelution was the song that we did together.
BEVAN: Could you let me know why you decided to bring the single 'Unified Rebelution' out on the underground tip and then on Blunt Recordings. Was it difficult getting signed and getting the single played?
Both Unity Committee and Rebels of Rhythm had been trying to get signed for
years and stuff. You know sending demo tapes to different record labels. We
basically got to that real b-boy point like fuck the record industry, fuck everybody
else we'll put out a record on our own.
BEVAN: I have noticed that a couple of songs released in the last few years just seem to reflect or reminisce on the Old School. "Unified Rebelution" is very different because you've bought the style of rapping and production way back. Was this your intention and was it difficult to create this track both lyrically and production wise?
No. Because it wasn't intentionally done, it just happened that way, it was
the vibe that we were getting. It wasn't difficult to come up with the lyrics
either. We just rode off the vibe the beat gave us. It was quite simple then
because our flow was along those lines already.
BEVAN: What are your feelings about so-called hip-hop groups who don't have "real DJ's" in the group or at their shows and rely 100% on the DAT machine?
ZAAKIR: As far as how we do shows, we like doing it off the turntable. We've done it of a DAT and DAT is cool but I think djing's more intimate, it's everything that hip-hop is based on. Right now there are a lot of people who are screaming "this is hip-hop and this is what it is.." when they dont know nothing about how it was done. Not saying that we know everything about it but we took time out to study it and really see what's going on instead of coming out and saying that "We some Old School kids in the New School", that's ignorant so we don't do that. We're going to keep the avenues open as far as making shows better but were not gonna drop out that DJ aspect. Were gonna keep the DJ aspect up there and were going to build around that.
BEVAN: Does your appreciation and love for the old school in some way prevent you from getting into the different styles of hip-hop today?
ZAAKIR: No actually it hasn't because for me you have to find your own nature as far as what rap is all about. When you say the new styles of today, I mean for one I gotta really sit back and see what the new styles really are. I don't know if there really are new styles because a lot of people say what were doing is kinda new, when in actuality it's not but it's new to them because they ain't ever heard it. I kinda like staying on a vibe where we are because nowadays you got too many people doing exactly what others are doing and it's just killing it. You need someone to go against the grain. Everybody cant keep going the same way and trying to implement it and trying to get original. We let stuff come naturally and if out of that a new style comes then cool. But if it doesnt it's all a point about making good music because you could have all the style in the world but you ain't making no good music, dont nobody want to hear it.
BEVAN: What artists do you listen to and respect the most?
ZAAKIR: There's so many! Jurassic 5 try to be as creative as possible as far as like performances, shows and stuff like that but everybody has their own personal opinion. There are four other guys besides myself. My own personal opinion would have to be Organised Konfusion and De La Soul. You got a lot of people who can rhyme but when you look at bring creative you really gotta take time out to look at Organised and De La. They really do some creative stuff. When they do stuff you can't sit down and say so-and-so did that first. When De-La and Organised do it, it just blows you backwards and your like "how did they sit down and think of this?"
BEVAN: Who would be your strongest musical influences and who do you think should go down in hip-hop's hall of fame?
ZAAKIR: Definitely all the brothers who didn't have a chance to make it. You gotta give it up to just the pioneers. First people like Cold Crush, there's no way in the world they shouldn't be there. All the pioneers should definitely be there! As for my musical influence as far as hip-hop is concerned, I would have to say Run DMC of course. Run DMC made me really understand what real hip-hop was all about at that time and they had a much broader appeal than what a lot of the old school brothers did. As far as Cold Crush, Fantastic 5 and stuff like that you had to really dig for those because a lot of their records didn't come out here. Run DMC was the first group whose records came out and you had access to those with no doubt. If you wanted to hear Sucker MC's all you had to do is go down to the local mom and pop stores and there it was. As far as the OLD OLD school it was very seldom you could get your hands on that. Run DMC showed that you don't have to be dressing in all those sequin suit's. You could just be you and do your thang!
BEVAN: What do you think about all the record company's repressing all the old school classics on wax?
ZAAKIR: I mean if the brothers are getting paid! The artists who made the songs should get a percentage out of that but unfortunately a lot of them are not because they don't have the publishing on it. But when the old school heads are not getting royalties off it, that shit is sad. These brothers put their heart into stuff like that and they made something. Hip-Hop is from those brothers who started it in New York. Hip-Hop is in Australia now. It's bad for labels to put out stuff where these brothers don't see a dime from it. I like it just on the strength that all these so called hip-hop heads can get finally get a feeling of what it was really like back then, myself included I pick it up without a doubt. I definitely think it should be something to where the brothers can be compensated for the things that they did. If you're not going to respect them, you don't need to be in this, you don't have to be around. You gotta respect them. Redman, Wu-Tang and all them kids are dope and they are definitely on top but you can't say Redman can fade Flash, DJ Hollywood, Theodore and Bambatta. You can't fade them kids. Hip-Hop is universal and it started in one place and migrated around the world. That was them brothers out there doing that!
BEVAN: Yeah there are a lot of upcoming rappers in Australia
ZAAKIR: I mean.. I think that's everywhere. It's got to the point now where a lot of MC's are just putting their stuff out on their own. We are re tired of just going through the normal "give me the demo" and going through all the BULLSHIT about "this is not what we're looking for can we hear another song". I mean brothers are tired of that, times is too hard and times is too short for brothers to keep on sitting over there catering for people who don't really understand this music. Put your own thing out and make it happen like that then you don't have to adjust to them they gotta adjust to you.
BEVAN: Tell me a bit about the West Coast underground and the new west coast artists you think will be shining in a few months.
Right now the underground out here is getting better than what it was because
a lot more MC's are coming out thinking business minded. At first it was like
I want to put this record out with this video and get these women. Now brothers
are looking like this is my lively hood, I gotta put all I got into this and
make it worthwhile. As far as MC's coming up there's Jurassic 5, Abstract Rude,
Ras Kass. You gonna have some people coming out... some new people who you ain't
heard of that are going to come out and try to set stuff off for the years to
come and hopefully after us there will be some more people coming in to keep
it in heart of what rap really is instead of thinking it's about shooting kids,
making money and all that other shit.
BEVAN: What's the album called, When is it dropping and when it does drop can we expect more of that old school flavour or are you going to be experimenting with different styles?
ZAAKIR: As far as the name of the album it's tentative, we haven't come up with a title for it just yet. Definitely be looking for it this year, hopefully it will be out by the summer. As far as what we're expecting to do... you're not gonna have twelve songs that sound like Unified Rebelution. Actually I think that's a misconception a lot of people have, that with this old school thing can't nothing else come out. We definitely have some other stuff but we wont take it to the extreme where we're gonna have too many flavours on the album to where an audience can't grasp it. We definitly want to have different things to make people cling to us. But then if you try to be a little too experimental, sometimes it backfires in your face. It will be something where everybody can sit and definitely say this is cool. I don't think it will be "Damn it's too much old school" or "Damn it's too much new school". It's just gonna definitely be from the heart, strictly from the heart.