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Jurassic 5 - Power in Numbers 2LP
Like a few other notable sophomore records from hip-hop acts (De La Soul Is Dead, The Low End Theory), Jurassic 5's Power in Numbers is darker than their first full-length; not as fresh and exuberant, but much more mature and intelligent. Granted, fans may not be happy to hear they've changed the formula so soon, or that the production doesn't play a starring role as it did on Quality Control. Instead, DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist play it close to the vest, setting off the rhymes with a few well-placed beats and split-second samples (as well as the usual flute loops). Of course, allowing more room to hear four of the best rappers in hip-hop twisting tongues and telling tales has to be welcomed, and Jurassic 5 prove up to the added responsibility. Displaying a focus and intensity basically unseen in rap music during the past decade, the group practically bursts with message tracks; the skeletal first single "Freedom" finds Chali 2na and Akil delving into the concept as it relates to everything from Third World poverty to the American penitentiary system. "Remember His Name" and "Thin Line" (the latter with Nelly Furtado) are dark tales of urban passions, and they're a step forward in that it's not just the raps that are intricate, but the storytelling also requires a few listens to understand. The group still has plenty of time for a few old-school anthems like "What's Golden" and "A Day at the Races," with Big Daddy Kane bringing his alliterative ammo to the track. And the instrumental jam "Acetate Prophets" shows DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist refining their skill for merging turntablism and excellent productions. Perhaps the best statement of Jurassic 5's purpose comes from the group itself, on "If You Only Knew": "What we do is try to give you what you ain't used to."