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Oral History

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.

Courtenay Henderson, aka Soup, of Jurassic 5

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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.


Great Expectations: An Oral History of Jurassic 5's <i>
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<p><strong>Dan Dalton:</strong> There was a lot of pressure on whether or not we were going to change. That I remember. We answered the calling and nobody bailed. Nobody thought we sold out. We were still Jurassic 5, just with better distribution and a better team.</p>
<p><strong>Cut Chemist:</strong> We wanted to do it our way and this was the result, which were better results than most people get from doing it your way on a major record label. I think we may be the shining example, the best-case scenario, of having your cake and kind of eating it, too. The machine got behind it and we had 100% creative control. Usually, when you have 100% creative control they’re like, “Fuck this record,” and they’re not going to work it.</p>
<p><strong>Soup:</strong> It was a slow burn. It didn’t take off. And at that time, first week sales was a big thing. We didn’t place high, but we didn’t place low. I’m looking at Billboard right now. We went to 43 and R&B/hip hop albums we were at 33. We were above 50. It would have been dope if we were like 10 or something, but that wasn’t bad… We just wanted to come out. We didn’t know nothing about first-week sales and we didn’t care anything about that. That was for the record label to worry about.</p>
<p><strong>Cut Chemist:</strong> The weird thing about the success of “Quality Control” is that I could feel the machine behind it. I was like, “This isn’t an organic thing.” It’s not the kind of song that is cracking on the mainstream. Yet it was on mainstream platforms. On Power 106 or 92.3 had “Quality Control” going up against Jay-Z songs. And it was winning. I was like, “What?!” We were on some MTV show. It was on some <i>TRL-type</i> shit. Girls were dancing to “Quality Control” when we were up there performing and I was like, “This is surreal. This is weird. You guys don’t normally dance to shit that sounds like this.” It was cool, but it was so different from what was going on at the time.</p>
<p><strong>B+:</strong> There’s a lot of Good Lifers out there that would be delighted to point out to you that both Snoop Dogg and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony came through. But as far as groups that were concerned with the core tenets of The Good Life, I think it’s a fair point to be made that Jurassic had the most successful career.</p>
<p><strong>Marc 7:</strong> We’re still seeing residuals from the record to this day, so it’s doing alright. We were so busy. We toured for years. There’s not many groups that can go silent, go dark for five or six years and come back and just tour like nothing ever happened. We’re one of those groups that can do that.</p>
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