Does your English need a little more rhythm and flow? Are you insecure about your pronunciation? Learning English with Rap could be your solution, and Jurassic 5 might prove that learning this way makes the process a lot more fun, and your English pronunciation a lot better.
I’ve been a huge fan of J5 (Jurassic 5) since I had the privilege of seeing their show in my hometown of Perth, Australia in 2007. Whether you’re already a fan, or this is the first time you’ve heard of them, you will not be disappointed with their unique rap sound or the amount of cool words you will learn just by listening to one of their songs.
This article will cover some English topics with Jurassic 5, including:
- Phrasal verbs based on the titles of some of their songs
- “Rapocabulary” vocabulary related to rap culture
- Discovering how J5 have connected to Brazilian culture through music
Firstly let me give you a quick summary of the group
About Jurassic 5
This Californian band was formed in 1993 by rappers Charles Stewart (Chali 2na), Dante Givens (Akil), Courtenay Henderson (Zaakir), Marc Stuart (Mark 7even), and Disk Jockeys Mark Potsic (DJ Nu-Mark) and Lucas Macfadden (Cut Chemist).
The group released 4 successful albums before they broke up, in 2007, for creative differences amongst group members.
Their musical genre has been described as a unique mix of alternative music, Hip Hop and they’ve even integrated Brazilan rhythms with a Vinicius de Moraes cover, and collaborated with Marcelo D2.
Everyday Phrasal Verbs with J5
End up like this
The phrasal verb “end up”, like in the title of this track, means result in. For example:
- What did you end up doing last night? – Meaning: The final result of something.
In this track, the crew are rapping about how their lives have changed negatively from when they were kids. As you will see in these lyrics, and most hip hop lyrics, is that they often make grammar and pronunciation mistakes. For a rapper this is a perfectly normal street styled way to speak and it helps them to rhyme aswell.
“Hey, yo, the vision that I’m seein’ ain’t the same no more
We used to tell the girls we love ’em, now we calling ’em whores
Summers of the past was a blast when we cooked out
But now we grab the phone, sit alone and order take out”
Yo– Used to call someone’s attention, it can be used as a substitute for Hello.
Seein-Seeing, note that the “g” is not usually pronounced in words ending in “ing”
Ain’t– Not, an alternative for I’m not/He isn’t etc. Used a lot in U.S. rap culture
‘em– Them, it’s common to shorten words
A blast– A good time
Cook out– Common American tradition of having a barbecue outside
Get it together
To get something together is used to give someone advice to change something about their life or current situation. It’s generally used when someone’s life is a little out of control. For example:
- Hey man, you are always late to work and smell like alcohol. You gotta get it together. – Meaning: You have to take more control of your life and be more responsible.
In this track, the guys are rapping about how they’re trying to “get it together” in their lives with their everyday problems.
“Yeah, I’m tryin’ to get it right, live my life right
I want the things that come with the fast life
but I don’t wanna lose my soul, right? pay with my life
I just wanna rock ice with my fresh nikes (yeah, yeah)
cuz the girls at the school think I dress nice. (yeah)
The real thug niggaz cool with a nigga, right?”
Get my life right– Make your life more correct
Fast life– A life of partying and fun things
Wanna– Want to
Fresh nikes– New nike sneakers
Dress nice– Use good clothes
Thug– Usually a criminal you can hire to do dirty work
Niggaz– Offensive slang word for negro, used only amongst African American rappers
Work it out
Work it out means to solve a problem for example, “I worked it out” means I found the solution to the problem.
Don’t confuse this with the phrasal verb work out which means to do exercise for physical fitness.
The chorus of this awesome song is sung by Dave Mathews, another great musician in case you have never heard of him. Judging by the chorus, because each verse tells a different story, this song is expressing that we should all dream and not worry about the consequences. Whatever problems appear, we can “work it out baby.”
Let’s look at the first verse where Marc 7even teaches us that even Thug rappers can be romantic.
“We live and we learn, we crash and we burn
Right now my only rhyme is this lesson I learned
You talk about trust, I talk about lust
Its not appealin as you truly speak your feelings
I be lookin at the ceiling, so concealing
I shoulda put my heart on the table
Knowin I was good and able but instead I fed your fables
If I could have you back best believe it’d be forever
Cause each and every day you would hear those four letters.”
Crash and burn– To fail miserably
Lust– A intense craving, in this case for sex.
Appealin– Desireable. Note that he dropped the “g” at the end
Shoulda– I should have
Fed you fables– Told you lies, fables are fictional stories told to children.
Those four letters– He’s referring to the word love.
How we get along
This track is just a sample of a guy’s voice with some beats being played over the top, it was used as an intro to one of their albums. I used to love listening to this track at the start of the day purely for the good vibes it has.
“Get along” can have 2 meanings. In the title of this track, it means how we interact with other people, how we communicate, and how we co-exist with other human beings. For example
- Do you get along with your neighbors? Yes, we get along just fine.
Another way we use “get along” is to express how we managed or handled a situation. For example:
- How did you get along at the job interview?
- I’m getting along really well in my new house.
This would be very similar to saying, how did you go? Or how are things going?
What we’re about to do, and to show youis how we get along.
We get along with eye contact.We also get along by listening to one another.
Not only that, but we also get along because of rhythms that we’ve learned during the course of the years.
But above all, there is harmony. Because we got to listen to one another.
It’s all about feeling good; it’s a positive attitude to make it work.
And what we’re about to show you today is FIVE different versions
Of feeling good. Yeah.”
About to do– we say this to say the next thing we’re going to do e.g. “I’m about to go to sleep.”
One another– um ao outro
Above all– acima de tudo
Make it work– Dar um jeito
Connections to Brazil
In an interview I read, some of the members of the group stated that before they broke up, the band had been listening to a lot of Brazilian music, especially Bossa Nova. On their album, “Feedback,” they made a remix of the Vinicius de Moraes’ “Canto de Ossanha.”
Another way J5 has connected collaborated with Brazilian rap was with 2 group members Charlie 2na and Cut Chemist. In 2006 Charlie 2na met up with Brazilian rapper Marcelo D2 and they made a duo rap track call “What I got.” This track was only released on D2’s album “Meu Samba e Assim.” Click here to listen.
Whether you’re a hip hop fan or not, as an English learner I believe that rap music can be one of the most beneficial genres of music to help your learning process. As I discussed in my previous article Learn English with rhythm and flow, the beauty of rapping is that the phonetics are more similar to spoken English than it is in other styles.
I’m sure you all enjoyed the songs we have explored in this article, and I hope I have turned you all into Jurassic 5 fans. If you hear any other awesome J5 songs, and there are many, we would love to hear about them in the comments below.