Great Expectations: An Oral History of Jurassic 5’s Quality Control

Portrait of American hiphop group Jurassic 5 as they pose on a staircase, Chicago, Illinois, April 17, 2003. Pictured are, from left, Chali 2NA (born Charles Stewart), Zaakir (born Courtenay Henderson) (in light grey sweatshirt), DJ Nu-Mark (born Mark Potsic) (sitting), Akil (born Dante Givens) (center back), Cut Chemist (born Lucas Macfadden) (in dark grey, Hartford sweatshirt), and Marc 7even (born Marc Stuart). (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Promotion and Touring

 

Dalton: We were owning college radio. Instead of putting money into chasing a radio single that wasn’t there in terms of commercial mainstream crossover, [Tom Whalley] put money into building the group’s career. He and I saw eye-to-eye in the strategy on how to build a career. We were running a marathon. We were a kick-ass touring band, man. We put money into tour marketing. Tom had Interscope make sure that the street teams and the college promo teams were there. We worked really hard at getting people to the show and understanding how dope the group was and how unique and musical they were.

B+: It’s really underappreciated just how successful they were. They played the Warped Tour. As a live group, I think they were far more successful than their records would have you believe. Their records were successful, but live they were really something spectacular. They really knew how to rock a fucking show.

Marc 7: [Rich Costey] played Fiona Apple the record and she was like, “I’m taking them on tour.” They called us, we said, “Fuck it.” I think we’re one of the first groups to do a tour like that. No hip-hop group toured with someone like Fiona Apple at that time.

Dan Dalton: I remember the first Warped Tour, Soup had something thrown at him. He walked to the front of the stage and said, “Who threw this? Now nobody wants to say anything? After every show, we go back to our merch booth and sign shirts/albums, come see me there and let me know who you are.” All of these punks were like, “Fuck yeah, man.” That tour, they would start off and people would be like, “What the fuck is this?” Fifteen minutes later, it started shifting. At the end, they were murdering it. I think they were the only hip-hop act on that show. It was not common for a hip-hop group to be on Warped Tour back then.

Marc 7: We did every major festival in the U.S. and especially the U.K. off of that record. We were with the biggest booking agency in the states, William Morris, and one of the biggest overseas, which was ITB. So there wasn’t a festival we didn’t do, a venue we didn’t play… We were respected by every group on the Warped Tour. We put in work every day. We had to win the crowd over… I think the first time we went to Toronto, they were throwing plastic bottles at us the whole time. Imagine it raining on stage, Nu-Mark ducking and dodging. It was hilarious. They were not having it. They wanted to hear their punk rock, but I was like, “We got a job to do. You’re going to hear this shit today.”

[There was another day where] they messed up our set time and they were like, “You guys are next.” Green Day was supposed to go on, so Green Day’s fans were waiting for them to go on stage. That was the longest hour performance of my life. I was like, “Let’s cut this short.” The girls in the front turned their backs to us. I ain’t mad at ‘em. “I was waiting on Green Day. Who the fuck are you?” I would’ve told us to get the fuck out of there, too.

Soup: If you could talk to promoters that have dealt with J5, I guarantee you they will be like, “Those are some of the best guys I’ve ever worked with. They were on time, did what they needed to do, and never caused a problem.” We never called the problem. Even if something happened and time was cut short, or the mics didn’t work, we would get on one mic.

 

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