London WC2 LA2

...kid-friendly blends of old-skool anthemising and daisy-age sampledelia...

Only those with hearts of stone and feet of lead could deny that [a]Jurassic 5[/a] are brilliant at what they do – kid-friendly blends of old-skool anthemising and daisy-age sampledelia. When J5 first broke two years ago, snotty wags were quick to dismiss their success as a product of their ‘unthreatening rap’. But, as they prove again tonight, the [I]real [/I]reason J5 are the rappers-of-choice for Johnny Indie-kid lies in their excellent live show.

From DJs Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist‘s pyrodecknics, to the call’n’response antics of J5‘s four-man MC tag-team, Jurassic‘s party-on-demand show is like a crash course in all that is ‘fun’ in hip-hop, drawing liberally from the Furious Five’s rhyme-styles and De La Soul‘s dippiness. They’ve a new LP, ‘Quality Control’, waiting in the wings, and with roughneck jazz-loops like ‘Contact’ and the winningly goofy ‘Monkey Bars’ delivered with such gleeful bonhomie, the world’s shelltoe-clad feet will be J5‘s.

Mos Def however, playing his long-awaited first solo show a few days later, is aiming for our heads and hearts. Augmented by a live band, including ex-Sugarhill and Tackhead bassist Doug Wimbish, he opens with a welcome-jam on the ‘Good Times’ riff, before unleashing track after track reminding us all exactly why his ‘Black On Both Sides’ was one of the finest albums of ’99, and why he’s doubtless going to be one of the faces for the 21st century.

The key is in his intractable confidence, his ease onstage and, of course, the blissful nu-skool hip-hop Mos lays down. From the melting jazz-keys and spiritual free-associating of the classic ‘Universal Magnetic’, through the righteous Bad Brains-thrash of ‘Rock N Roll’ – Wimbish and Mos living out their every metalhead mosh fantasy – to the stuttering Aretha Franklin loop twisting throughout ‘Ms Fat Booty’, the show serves as a celebration of just how much Mos has achieved so far, and as a glimpse at all that lays within his grasp.

Sweat-drenched in a crimson T-Shirt, Mos chats and chants like he already [I]knows [/I]the whole room worships the ground he walks on, but he’s not gonna take that for granted. The crowd, equally-mixed black’n’white, girls’n’boys, hip-hop kids’n’casual fans, lose themselves in a sublime groove that started out as new single ‘Umi Says’ but has morphed into some post-jazz bliss-out. They clap eyes one last time on Mos, spinning off into the stratosphere, and prepare to laminate their ticket stubs. This was an ‘I was there’ kinda night.