Following their recent reform, we talk touring, life on the road and freedom of speech with the guys behind Jurassic 5
With its ever-changing boundaries and shape shifting dynamic, the music industry can be a challenging domain. Artists lasting the distance require strength, bravery and tireless resolution. Recently reforming after their break up in 2007, Jurassic 5 stand tall amongst the US Hip Hop scene that raised them. Back on the road and touring the world again, the band’s lyrical genius; musical mastery and timeless determination continue to engrain a legacy for tomorrow’s generation.
You’ve been in the game a long time do you still get excited about touring?
Soup: You’ve got to be, especially if your touring and it’s a big crowd or places are sold out. When it’s a festival and people have come all that way to see you, you have to be excited. It’s not obligation but these people choose to take time out of their lives to spend hard earned money to come and see you. You have to make sure they enjoy it as much as they can.
What is the biggest thing you have learned from being on the road?
To compromise, to be patient and to be careful, it’s dangerous as much as it’s fun. You put your life at stake going to these places, all these countries where you don’t know how stable the government may be. You’re on flights for hours and driving on roads you’re not familiar with. It’s worse because you’re not actually driving, someone else is so then you’re putting your life in their hands. It’s all about safety, comprise and being patient. It can’t always be all about you but you need to know when to make it all about you. It’s all give and take.
Have you ever found yourself in a dangerous situation on tour?
Not anything too serious. We were in a bus crash in the States and one of the team got serious head trauma, which could’ve been a lot worse. That’s the worst thing we’ve had in our careers. There have been a couple of emergency landings and once the plane had to turn around because something wasn’t working properly. I hate flying so you know the minute that seatbelt stops working I want that plane to turn around.
Do you enjoy being on the road?
Oh yeah! This is something I like doing and it’s my thing, my creativity. You get a creativity push to the max when you go to new places, places you have never even thought about. You might say “I’d like to see LA, I’d like to see New York” but did you ever think about Istanbul, Australia or Europe? To be able to do that is amazing. I never thought I’d ever get to these places and if I wanted to go, I wouldn’t have known how I could. Seeing these places and seeing how other people live gives you a lot of knowledge and I enjoy it.
Which country have you learnt the most from?
Europe definitely. Europe was the first place to really embrace us first so we spent a lot of time out there honing our craft. Traveling doing interviews and tours, putting out records and getting nominated for things, Europe was the place that got our feet wet.
In terms of the dynamics within the band, can you give me a breakdown of each of the characters?
Chemist is funny, sarcastically funny. Nu-mark is funny but he’s probably going to ask a lot of questions about what’s going on. Marc 7 is the electronics guy so if something is wrong with the bus or your Mac or social media, he’s really good with that. Akil is the carefree guy, he likes to buy a hamburger take a bite and put it down and then it’s gone and he won’t know where it’s at and he wont worry about it. He’ll just grab another hamburger. Charli keeps us in good graces with everybody because people gravitate towards him. I’m pretty private, I don’t do a lot but I go to the movies. If you want to know about a movie call me. You want to know where the theatre is at in Germany, come call me I’ve found it. I’ll know what they’re showing, when it’s showing, what they serve.
What’s your favourite film?
You know there’s things people ask that I can’t answer and that is one of them. Music and movies are hard because I don’t have one favourite I have so many of them. Only thing I can give you an exact favourite on is like if you ask me, who’s your favourite basketball player? I can answer that. I know one of my favourite artists of all time is Michael Jackson, I know that he is in my top three.
You’ve been in the game a long time. What is one of the key changes that you have noticed in Hip-Hop?
This time, coming back there isn’t any pressure on us with the label. There is no drama, it’s really just based on us having a good time and being free. That’s probably the change that we’ve made. We’re not tied down to anybody.
What in the industry has changed?
The industry has changed too much. Nowadays everybody’s a star or everybody wants to be a star, I don’t know if people even know talent anymore. It’s all about the branding. Back in the day we didn’t have that, we tried our best to make good music but nowadays you can make bad music but as long as you have good branding that is all anyone cares about. People want to be open but everything has to be politically correct. You can’t say anything about anything without offending somebody. They tell you there’s freedom of speech but its an illusion, there’s really not. If you try to say anything you can’t. You can’t give your beliefs on something if its not going to work with the masses. You’ll get shot down or your career will end. Music is not as free as it used to be, they let a lot of people do it but it’s very formulated.
Have you ever been told to change your lyrics?
Not so much to us but I know we have a song called, ‘One of them N****’s’ and in there he says, “homo ima hurt ya feelings”, I mean he wont be able to say that. Sometimes people will hear a song then say, “but why did he say that?” I can’t speak for people I don’t know why people say what they say. That’s the thing about this freedom of speech. That’s what he’s said and I don’t know why he’s said that but whether I agree with it or not that’s not my business and that’s not your business. We are in a day and age where people think what they say matters or they think everybody has an opinion on something. It is what it is, why does it matter. If you don’t like a certain race of people well fine, nobody is forcing you to hang out with me. If you don’t like me good, I wont hang out with you. There are 6.5 billion people in the world I’m sure I can find somebody, if you don’t want to then fine. I don’t have time to worry about what certain people are saying about other people its just like, “Oh Lord”. I’ll probably get in trouble for this.
What’s the biggest thing you have learnt about yourself from being in the music industry?
After all these years, I have learnt that I was supposed to be part of this business. Not in every aspect of it but as far as talent and being able to create stuff that connects and people can relate to, I think I was destined to be in this business. I wasn’t just kidding myself when I was in the room dreaming about going places and performing and actually be good at it. It has been twenty years and I was able to make a career out of it. That is a beautiful thing.
So for anybody who would like to be in your position in years to come, what advice can you offer them?
You’ve got to be honest with yourself. You’ve got to be your own worst critic and you’ve also got to be your best critic. Know that if this is not for you, when to bail out. Know that you might not be the guy to be at the front but you might be better at hooking up the eq
uipment, or producing. You can’t rely on others to be honest for you. If something’s not good, admit that it’s not good and then work on making it better.
Words: Carly Wilford.