By Mayka Mei
At 6:55 p.m. on Tuesday evening, when Dilated Peoples wrapped up their sound check with “This Way,” there were less than 20 people waiting in line outside. If Leavey was supposed to be having a concert, then where were the concertgoers?
Performing: Los Angeles’ world-famous Jurassic 5, to be brought on stage after the equally popular Dilated Peoples.
The genre? “Just hip-hop,” as J5’s Soup described, though J5 and Dilated fans alike will hail them for being cornerstones in the underground scene.
But the crowd? At first, it seemed like it was going to be a small show. By 8:25 p.m., there were only about 200 attendees out on the floor and in the bleachers, but somehow, by 8:30 p.m., the floor was packed. Final numbers counted that the Activities Programming Board sold approximately 1600 tickets.
They all came just in time.
APB’s advertising specified performances by DJ Babu and MC Rakaa, but instead, the entire Dilated trio came, complete with MC Evidence. To top it all off, Fresno MC Planet Asia made a cameo as well.
“I know we’re at a school, but this is not a school assembly,” Evidence said to kick off the night.
With that, Dilated opened with their aptly-chosen Expansion Team track “Live on Stage.” Then Dilated directed the crowd in some concert aerobics: Hands up. Clap. Both hands up. Every track was accompanied by a step-up in physical activity from the song prior.
Eventually, Evidence asked the audience to jump to make Babu’s record skip. Looking more like popping corn than fans jumping in solidarity, individual crowd members responded by jumping to rhythms all their own, but it was still a commendable effort.
Unafraid to show their political side, Dilated made it an evening of music with a message. “Some war for war,” Evidence said into the mic, “but we war for peace.”
Evidence even took a sip of Hyphy Juice on stage to show support for the Yay Area’s hip-hop movement.
Nearly half an hour later, four MCs and one DJ brought it live to Santa Clara: MCs Chali 2na, Akil, Marc7, Soup and DJ Nu Mark.
In a world full of commercial rap where so many elements are synthesized, J5’s ability to harmonize while spitting rhyme makes them truly stand out. As they promise at every show, J5 aims to “take four MCs and make them sound like one.” And they deliver every time.
Picking up on Dilated’s directed group exercise, J5 fans were encouraged to jump and put their fists in the air. A scene to behold, it was like being on-site of the “Power in Numbers” album art.
J5 performed all of their better-known singles and also made room for socially conscious rap in their playlist.
At 11:05, Santa Clara got what many had been waiting for: a live freestyle from Jurassic 5. How can one not enjoy such masters of hip-hop impromptu? Chali 2na’s distinctively deep voice is entertainment on its own.
After the show, fans who knew to stay behind got their chance to meet and greet one of the friendliest groups on the planet. No matter where they go, J5 always makes it a point to hang out with the people who come to see them.
Junior Victoria Duran, co-founder of Santa Clara’s chapter of Lyrical Discipline and member of the Universal Zulu Nation, appreciated that APB brought out a lesser-known hip-hop artist to campus.
“They could have easily brought someone else who didn’t have any substance,” she said. “Hip-hop is an opportunity to provide more diverse performances. It’s not just one fan base or ethnicity or class.”
As APB and volunteers broke down the set, Soup and the other members of J5 were happy to relax after the show.
Soup enjoyed the laid-back attitude of Santa Clara’s crowd. “They were very, very hospitable, and I appreciate that. Comin’ from L.A., it’s very chill, and I like that,” he said.
The world-class hip-hop group definitely sent positive vibes throughout the audience, and those vibes will last long for those who experienced the feel-goodness of Tuesday night.