By Aaris A. Schroeder
Fresh sounds, break dance-ready; Akil The Emcee of Jurassic 5 brings true hip-hop to the table for all ages, offering verbal hip-hop truths as he did for the Hip-Hop Awareness Festival, May 22-24 at the Washington Center in Sacramento, CA. Yet his story is one traveled.
J-5 began their journey as an underground hip-hop force in ’94 with songs such as “Concrete School Yard,” released on their self-titled album in ’97 and “What’s Golden” on album “Power in Numbers,” released in ’02 and continued with a strong fan base until March ‘07 with their last album, “Feedback,” when; according to Akil, due to bad business decisions and people not getting along in the group, J-5 dismantled.
J-5 has been around since late ’94, making music together under Interscope Records. “We met at a spot called The Good Life, an open-mic place in LA. We met another DJ of ours, DJ Newmark at a rehearsal for a live band.” And thus the group was created.
“Interscope did not understand us from day one,” according to Akil’s MySpace Blog who also states that there were only three videos recorded for the “Quality Control” album and even less for the “Feedback” album.
Akil also made it clear that J-5 did not put out albums enough, their last album being, “Feedback” released in ’07.
“The magic was gone,” Akil tells UBO Magazine, “The machine [Interscope] on a whole didn’t have a clue of what to do with us. We never fit into their inter-scope of things, not to put the blame on them ‘cause no one made us sign.” Akil explains from his MySpace blog.
Jurassic 5 which has primarily a white college fan base which includes skaters, rockers and punk-kids in the indie-music realm chose to sign to Interscope because the label seemed to cover both sides of the hip-hop world, indie music and the urban world; or in other words – underground and mainstream.
Little did they know that the fan base they brought, even though it was different than their personal upbringings would end up haunting them as J-5 left Interscope and each other.
“We did not grow up in that world. The majority of the group was black [and was] raised in the ghettos of ‘amerikkka,’” Akil states in his blog, “So it was only right that we would want to appeal to them.”
Interscope had J-5 all wrong.
Akil began touring alone as soon as J-5 fell off from the label and one another. Akil still performs some of the J-5 singles to get the crowd moving and his fans going but has already recorded and performed several of his own songs which will be released on his album, “Sound Check” summer ’09.
“Sound check is something you do before the show, tweaking the levels, making sure your mic is set up right so you know that your sound is playable for the people to take in when the show does happen. I feel like I am just starting over, so I have a sound check with my project. I have to set the tone for my show.”
Akil has been working on “Sound Check” since summer ’08. “I could have been done with the album,” he says but he was focused on J-5 until the group actually dismantled.
“I was coming from a fan-base that was fairly large. I understand how people are, sometimes they want to know if you are going to make the same type of music or going to be in the same band. I want to touch on where I came from and open new doors.”
Akil’s sound relates to his fans from J-5 as well as to a younger audience.
“Plus I am little too,” Akil laughs.
One of his focuses being to reach to a younger audience without needing to “dumb down” the music.
After you get in front of their faces, they know they have an alternative, they have been given a choice that they can [listen] to other styles of music,” says Akil who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, “A lot of black kids from where I [grew] up, they was break dancing, they were DJing, they was emceeing. You had your gang stuff going on as well but when hip-hop came in it gave us other alternatives.
“Hip-Hop is the foundation and rap is just a branch. It is all still connected to the same tree, whether you do gangsta rap or super-positive [music]. Our enemies see us as one so we should see ourselves as one.”
Akil has toured over-seas with J-5 but has done massive touring since they have separated. Akil is the first emcee to perform in Cambodia and he was able to travel to Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria and more since the breakup.
For more information about Akil’s new album, visit his MySpace page at myspace.com/akilthe1mc.