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In keeping with the harmonious theme the band embraces, J5 is a biracial outfit: Everyone's black except for Cut Chemist. "There are a lot of white guys in hip-hop," he acknowledges, "but not in my group. But I don't really think about it. It doesn't really affect me. I've been in situations where it has been very overt and up-front -- people confronting me about the color of my skin and stuff. But if I'm enjoying what I do, that's the main thing.
The past year has seen the escalation of Jurassic 5's career to heights never glimpsed by most hip-hop groups: Club tours with like-minded indie kin such as Black Eyed Peas, Ugly Duckling, and Dilated Peoples raised awareness, opening the door for the gradual acceptance of nonviolent hip-hop. Then last spring, Fiona Apple heard a few J5 songs and invited the crew along to open dates on her recent trip around the world. "We like to challenge ourselves with new audiences," says Cut Chemist. "The Fiona tour was, like, 15-year-old girls. The more people we can get to hear our music, the better."
With that in mind, this summer the band is out on the punk/skateboard festival known as the Warped Tour, where it'll represent a tiny hip-hop contingent among bands like Green Day and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The daylong event affords the band a short time to show off its skills. "Only 30 minutes," Cut Chemist says. "It's cool -- it's weird, because right when you get pumping and get into the groove, you gotta stop. But at least we get to play."
Cut Chemist, for his part, is pleased that J5's message has been embraced within a culture often catering to the superficial and trivial or often misogynist and destructive.
"But then again," he admits, "I couldn't be part of anything else, because that's not me and it's not the other guys. It feels good that people are relating to it, because this is what we'd be doing anyway. It could easily have been the other way around -- we want to hear how nice your cars are and how flashy your gold is-- people have wanted to hear that for the longest time, and they'll probably go on wanting to hear that. It's their own way of fantasizing about having it themselves. But it's getting tiring.