Five Elements, the newest release from Chapel
Hill's Sankofa, boasts a bit more than the hip hop standby two turntables
and a microphone.
They cover the basics with MC Creem on the
mic and DJ Pez on the turntables, but they add three less conventional
hip hop elements with the Apple Juice Kin on drums, Kermit Keys
on keyboards and Brandau on bass.
And, yeah, they know what you're thinking: "Sounds a bit like the
Roots to me." And, yeah, at first they might. But then you start
feeling something way more Southern than some mere Philadelphia
These are the guys who wrote Chapel Hill call-and-response anthem
"North Cack". Who won 102 JAMZ Superjam Talent search. Who made
it into the final 32 of the nationwide MTV Online "Ultimate Hip
Hop Talent Search." Who opened for Busta Rhymes, Slick Rick, Doug-E-Fresh
and, yeah, the Roots.
They started up in '98 on the UNC
campus, tirelessly playing for one student group after another.
When they finally got around to playing the Cat's
Cradle, playing for all those different groups paid off. They
consistently pack the joint, filling it with one of the most multicultural
crowds you'll see in any club.
And they embrace a wide world view: "Sankofa"
is a Nigerian word for a time-travelling bird able to to fly forward
into its future with its head and eyes focused squarely in its past.
They remain, mysteriously enough, unsigned.