WEATHER UPDATE: Despite snow, the promoter announced at 11 a.m. on Jan. 31 that the show will still take place.
Here’s a note from the promoter: In Colorado, we don’t let a little snow scare us. Icelantic’s Winter on the Rocks with Jurassic 5 & Ghostland Observatory will happen tonight!
We are currently working to clear all the roads, parking lots, walkways, and seating areas. In anticipation of last nights’ weather, we loaded in sound and lights a day early and the stage is set and ready to go. Our crews are busy shoveling, plowing, and spreading salt.
It will be cold tonight, please dress warmly and layer up. We recommend snow boots, snow pants, gloves, hats and the warmest coat you own. There are warming huts located at the top of the venue in the Visitor Center, use them if you need to! Take pre-cautions while driving, and allow yourself extra time for traffic and road conditions. Take care of each other and look after your friends. Together we are going to have an awesome show in a winter wonderland!
As a reminder, Entrance 2 is currently closed due to construction. To access the venue, please use Entrance 1 or 3. The box office can be accessed from either entrance but we recommend using Entrance 1.
By Matt Treon
Hip-hop fans know that when “you add water to bone, you get Jurassic 5 on the microphone,” and after more than half a decade apart, the band’s distinct alchemic sound is up on the mic again.
Jurassic 5 reunited this past summer at Coachella Festival (where the group played the festival’s inaugural event back in 1999) and takes the Red Rocks stage this month as part of the third annual Winter On The Rocks. Not even the group knows the full reach of the reunion, but it’s clear that with other artists like Kanye and Beyoncé cutting records with nearly unparalleled pop culture clout, other veteran groups such as Wu-Tang taking to high-profile stages, and a whole new brood of young rappers, J5’s reorganization seems like it might be happening during a hip-hop resurgence the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the band’s inception in the early 1990s.
Working in an old-school style, Jurassic 5 ranks near the top of the alternative hip-hop class, along with groups like A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, and De La Soul, but founding member Chali 2na struggles with that distinction. “Truth be told, we’ve always been called ‘alternative hip-hop,’ but I ask, ‘Alternative to what?,’” Chali 2na said during a recent interview with The Marquee, with his self-proclaimed “verbal Herman Munster,” voice on the phone, like his debonair flow, coming across heavy and as sharp as it is smooth (the closest sonic comparison probably being that of Omer Simeon’s bass clarinet back when he played with Jelly Roll Morton).
In the mid-’90s, hip-hop existed largely as an artistic expression performed by marginalized members of society in America, but the commercial success of bigger labels also moved rap to the center of American culture. J5 hit the scene at a time when gangsta rap reigned and a growing lyrical focus on the spoils of individual success ruled the day, and with the release of their first EP, which dropped in 1997, the new outfit declared their mission: “Let’s take it back to the concrete streets.”
Each member of Jurassic 5 deploys skillful raps that display complex literary techniques, and their lyrics tend to address each rapper’s prowess at those very mechanics. But along with this self-referential approach to building tracks, J5’s rhymes also examine larger ideas of hip-hop as a culture of aesthetic resistance.
“Rap lyrics were definitely braggadocio back in the day,” 2na said. “But they also have an element of community, party and fun that I know me and the fellas fell in love with when we heard hip-hop for the first time. Our approach was conscious in the sense that we had people in our families, and friends in penitentiaries, affected by selling and using drugs, murder and all that kind of stuff that, around the time we were getting popular, almost every rapper was talking about. We wanted to stand away from that by not talking about it. We had it in our lives, but we wanted to focus on something more positive. I mean, I’m an Ice Cube fan, a Snoop Dogg fan. I can’t front. We just didn’t want to do the same kind of hip-hop.”
So in part, this approach often stands as the source of the “alternative” distinction regarding J5, but really the group is more of a throwback to the art’s origins, or, as 2na puts it, “The love of the art form, not just the dividends.” And he considers J5’s reorganization, in part, a preservation of their style. “We were around when rap started, you know what I’m saying? We loved hip-hop from the jump, and that’s part of why we got back together,” 2na said.
As to the success of the reunion so far, 2na said, “It’s all been more than I expected, beautiful, really — that the veil has sort of been lifted on our hiatus. Next year will be the twentieth anniversary of us performing together, so we’re thinking about doing something special, maybe putting out a live album.”
But while 2na considers Jurassic 5’s work that of preservation, or excavation rather, his solo work (along with other Jurassic 5 personalities such as Cut Chemist) has moved into new sonic territories, incorporating heavy synths, wide-ranging instrumentation and an array of rhythms, and he left open the possibility of new J5 tracks. “We’ve been listening to Thelonious Monk and other older cats. I’m also just getting back from a solo mission in Brazil, where I had a chance to really absorb their music called ‘funky.’ It’s a dope sound indigenous to their cities,” he said.
Much like hip-hop, the music Brazilians call “funky,” or “funk carioca,” uses heavy beats (often sampled and looped) with artists flowing over top those beats, coming across somewhere between rapping and singing. “I recorded a song with will.i.am back in the day, on top of a rhythm like that, but I didn’t understand it as much as he did. He kept saying, ‘One day this is going to blow up.’ I didn’t really hear it then, but this last time down there it hit me,” said 2na. The genre’s relationship to hip-hop also stems from its expression of harsh social conditions in Brazil’s urban areas, and has grown in popularity among the working class.
Collective expression has pushed Jurassic 5’s style from the start, and continues to inform their music and their relationship with J5 fans. “Most of the people who stick around after the show will meet me and the rest of the group,” said 2na, “and we sign autographs because it’s a way to connect, and to show our complete appreciation for any and all fans, or anyone anywhere on the planet who’s been touched or inspired in any way by our music.”
:: Jurassic 5 ::
:: Icelantic’s Winter on the Rocks ::
:: Red Rocks Amphitheatre ::
:: January 31 ::
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