Iremember seeing Jurassic 5 perform a couple years ago and being struck by how quaint the whole enterprise was—old-school granola hip-hop very much in the vein of Arrested Development and Digable Planets. But while musically proficient, there’s scarcely an edge to the sextet’s first collection of new material since 2002’s Power In Numbers. Jurassic 5 reliably trots out crisp production, slick beats, and precisely deployed guest stars but fail to generate any heat. The whole affair feels like hip-hop for people who don’t actually listen to hip-hop, which is shocking, considering the group’s pedigree (DJ Cut Chemist is counted as a member, as is Chali 2na, a member of progressive Latin outfit Ozomatli). While listening to Feedback, I found myself thinking more than once of the Black Eyed Peas and their crowd-pleasing transformation; those who can’t get enough of “My Humps” would be thoroughly startled by the once daring group’s back catalog. In the early ‘90s, Jurassic 5 were likewise at the forefront of a miniature rap revolution. It feels like Feedback was massaged, micro-managed, and created with a mass audience in mind—in short, focus-grouped to death. Maybe they realized that the fleeting explosion of inventive hip-hop has subsided in the past decade, leaving them stranded amid a minefield of bling, slangin’ rock, and bossy hoes. I’d be hard pressed to point any particular track here as rising above the others; Dave Matthews croons the hook to “Work It Out,” easily the most radio-ready cut, but Feedback, for the most part, disintegrates into a cloud of unremarkable noise.
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