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Maybe it's that the Jurassic 5 have to include a song, "Where We At," on their new album in which they defend their backpacker status. Not that this kind of thing isn't done, but J5 were always able to show their superiority over Hot 97 emcees by rhymes alone, not by having to state it outright. Or maybe it's that "Work It Out," their single, features the wearisome Dave Matthews Band on the chorus, or that "Brown Girl (Suga Plum)" has Scott Storch producing. Whatever the reason, Feedback sounds desperate to prove J5's authenticity and rebelliousness against the mainstream while still making sure to cater to those same mainstream audiences. They were always pretty accessible to the non-hip-hop crowd, but they also managed to stay unique, with innovative rhymes and rhythms that appealed to heads too. The four emcees still sound pretty decent, and Nu-Mark (Cut Chemist is on sabbatical), when he's actually producing the tracks, has some nice beats. But everything seems watered-down, like when you're trying to get that juice from breakfast to last the whole day. The basic flavor of Feedback is the same, but it's a lot weaker than the real thing.

Marisa Brown writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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