Concert preview: Landmark hip-hop crew Jurassic 5 reunites on its own terms

By
From the July 24, 2014 edition

Enjoy it while it lasts, because the Jurassic 5 reunion, like the geologic period that inspired the crew’s name, will someday come to an end.

In a mid-July phone interview, rapper Zaakir, born Courtenay Henderson, said he had little desire to continue trotting out the same old material night after night (“We can’t keep going to the well with the same songs”), admitted a disconnect with the modern hip-hop scene (“They’re high on … dressing weird and being weird and, no, I don’t really relate to it”) and professed the landmark crew had nothing left to prove (“We’ve done what we’ve done, and I don’t think there’s another chapter that needs to be written”).

At the same time, the MC, who joins the rest of the groundbreaking, six-man crew for a concert at LC Pavilion Sunday, July 27, appeared open to the possibility of new recordings, saying, “The lane is open, and you never know where it can lead.”

“The most feasible thing would be to put out more music, but there’s no pressure,” he continued. “We don’t follow the formula to where we feel we have to get it out for the people. I no longer want to cater to what the people think, because in the morning they’ll love you and by late afternoon they’ll be telling you you’re washed up.”

The reunion, spawned by a 2013 Coachella invite, follows a six-year hiatus Zaakir attributed to personal differences among the musicians — a refreshingly candid admission miles removed from the well-worn fallback of “creative differences.”

“When [the split] was presented to me it didn’t have any lights or camera tricks. It was very raw and very upfront, and that’s how I dealt with it,” he said. “It wasn’t creative. It was more of a personal thing. I don’t think anybody who put out [music] after we broke up deviated from the J5 formula. It’s not like a guy came out and started doing opera. Now that’s a different direction! ‘I feel like I’m being stifled in this group because I always wanted to be in a mariachi band.’ No. Nobody did that. So, no, it wasn’t creative. It was something else.”

Even so, the rapper said he entered into the reunion with a forgive-and-forget attitude, and there was never a point the bandmates had to get together and hash out the past.

“No one sat down like, ‘I didn’t like you for this reason or that reason,’” he said. “We’re six grown men. My thing was, if you didn’t do that at the time when it was relevant, please don’t come seven years later and tell me about a time in 2004 that I ate your last piece of cake.”