Ever get the feeling that hip-hop has lost quite a bit of purity since the early days of b-boys -- and MC battles that didn't lead to homicides? So do the boys that make up Jurassic 5, who turned commercial hip-hop into their own prop-giving medium. They have old-school ethics, song structures and lyrics...but with 2002 distribution and label backing. These resources mixed together are a serious thing to face. Look out, bling-blingers.
Nighttimes.com recently had the chance to chat it up with Soup, one member of the 6 man wrecking force. Here's how he chimed in on today's hip-hop status, what old-school means to him, and all sorts of other topics:
Does J5 focus on the old-school because you like the sound primarily, or is it the principles and ethics of it?
Itís a little bit of both. Back in the day they showed how they really tried to create new styles, and be creative with the mic. Iíd think everyone would want to respect the past in their music. Iíd hope everyone would want to have those principles.
How does old-school become separated...where to a 16-year-old, Snoop's first album might be old-school, but to everyone else, it's the mid 80s era of rap?
For me, old-school is Cold Crush Brothers, Grandmaster Flash. New school to me was Run DMC. Back then they were catching flak Ďcause they didnít worry about the way they dressed. Eric B and Rakim and KRS-One was considered new school, so for someone to call Snoop old-school, that shit trips me out. You come in late into the game, you should just sit your ass back keep your mouth shut. Quit trying to make your own rules and respect the game. Iím just a bitter brother.
Can commercial, mainstream hip-hop ever break the overly used clichť of money, girls, booze?
Itís doing that somewhat right now, but people need to just make music. Iíve never seen anyone get so upset talking about girls and cars. You got planes flying into buildings and people get pissed about Jay Z singing a song about girls. If the songs are done properly, and the dude is saying it the way it sounds fly, I donít have a problem with it. I donít wanna hear that metaphysical preaching shit either. Címon man, that shit is wack. Just do you, thatís what I say. Just do you.
Who would be your ultimate collaboration?
A young Stevie Wonder when he was really pumping joints out, that would be tight.
Whatís the most important vibe you try to get across in your records?
To be honest itís just do the best music J5 can do. If the song is a topic song, itís how can we do it in an original way. I wanna jazz it up and make it interesting. I like the way we put a twist on it.
How was writing the song w/Nelly Furtado different from all your other material, being that it has much more of a pop structure?
We did it our way. A song is a song. We didnít sit down and figure it to be a pop song. Regardless what Nelly Furtado would have done on that song, people would call it pop. We sat down, wrote the song, and I think she sounded good on it.
There's a gun to your head, and you're forced to listen to one of the three: Vanilla Ice, Snow or Marky Mark. Who gets a spin?
I think Iíd listen to Snow. He tried to do the dance-hall a little bit, so sometimes itís jazzed up so itís cool. To hear Marky Mark and Vanilla Ice try to rhyme, címon. Snow can kinda get over cause of his beats. But Iíd listen to Marky Mark before Vanilla Ice, but that would be one hell of a task
As a group, how do songs get written? Is there a song concept, then you all write together, or are verses just written individually?
Both ways. Somebody might have a verse that goes too long. The best way is that there isnít a way. Sometimes the beat dictates the topic to us.
What do you consider to be the best era of hip-hop?
For me it was Ď87-Ď88. Cats were cominí out with records with HEAT! Critical Beatdown by Ultramagnetic MCís, Erik B. and Rakim. Those were off the hook.
I couldnít agree more. If your entire album collection was destroyed, and you had only enough money to buy any 3 albums ever made, which would you go with?
1.Public Enemyís It Takes A Nation of Millions
2.Something from PrinceÖeither 1999 or Controversy
3.Any Donnie Hathaway album