Jurassic 5 is back in business.

The acclaimed Los Angeles hip-hop act, which originally parted ways in 2007, reunited last year to the delight of its many fans. The celebration has now spilled over to 2014, with a lengthy U.S. tour that includes a stop Friday at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley.

"It feels like old times," Jurassic 5's Akil says of the reunion. "We are just doing what we have always done. We just are in a little older bodies. Other than that, it's still the same."

The J5 show kicks off a huge season of hip-hop in the Bay Area, which will include performances by such titans as Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Jay Z (with Beyoncé).

And what a way to get the party started.

Back in the mid 1990s and early 2000s, the SoCal crew was one of alternative hip-hop's top troupes -- wowing fans and critics alike with its socially conscious lyrics and old-school grooves -- and seemed well on its way to establishing itself as a major mainstream act.

The group's first two major label releases, 2000's "Quality Control" and 2002's "Power in Numbers" (both on the Interscope Records label) were startlingly good. In particular, "Quality Control" ranks as a stone cold classic.

Yet, things began to go south with the departure of the amazingly talented DJ Cut Chemist, who decided to chase a solo career after the release of "Power in Numbers." The group soldiered on, but the creative spark had dimmed somewhat.


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In 2006, Jurassic 5 released "Feedback" -- a work that fell well short of the greatness of its earlier outings -- and called it quits one year later. Although the breakup was attributed by many to internal dissension, Akil says that's not the case.

"It wasn't even creative differences," he says during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. "Things sometimes just grow apart. It didn't have anything to do with creative differences or money."

"I feel like the Creator has a time (schedule)," he adds, "and I play on the Creator's time. It was that time for us to be apart and the Creator brought us back together. It was just definitely in the Creator's plan for it to happen. And we accept. So, from there, we're here."

But how did we get here? The credit goes, in large part, to Coachella.

The six original J5 members -- rappers Akil, Chali 2na, Zaakir and Marc 7even and DJs Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist -- certainly had their chances to reunite over the years. Yet, they all couldn't turn down the opportunity to perform in a prime slot at last year's mammoth Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Southern California. The group went on to tour England, Portugal, Spain, Japan and the United States, including a stop at the Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas, in November.

But Coachella was a high-pressure re-entry to the game. Jurassic 5 had to dust off years of cobwebs and try to conjure up the old magic in front of thousands of music lovers -- many of whom probably weren't all that familiar with the band -- at one of the world's top festivals.

Fortunately, Jurassic 5 -- a band well known for its sterling stage shows during its original heyday -- earned top scores at Coachella as well as the reunion shows that followed. On a local note, Jurassic 5 delivered one of the top sets of last year's Outside Lands festival in San Francisco.

The Bay Area has long been one of the band's top markets, and that's no coincidence, says Akil.

"The Bay Area was really instrumental in supporting real hip-hop," he says. "We knew that when we went up there we really had to be on point with what we were doing. ... I think the first time we went was 1997, or something like that. Ever since then, I've loved the Bay Area."

The reunited J5 has found success at basically every stop on its comeback tour. Akil says he's not surprised that longtime listeners are snatching up tickets, but rather by all the younger fans showing up for gigs.

"There are fans now who are at these shows who are like 21, 22 years old," he says. "I keep thinking that seven or eight years ago, they were like 13 or 14 and weren't even able to go to the clubs or be part of the scene."

Another positive is that the group has recorded its first reunion track, "The Way We Do It," which manages to sound both fresh and familiar.

"Our style is already old school," Akil adds. "There's no way that (a song) can be dated with us, because we didn't come out with a new sound anyway. We are not confined to have to run the race with everyone out here and make something to compete with what's going on."

Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic and www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews.

Jurassic 5
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Greek Theatre, Berkeley
Tickets: $42.50,
www.ticketmaster.com
Also on the bill: Quannum Projects (featuring Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker), Dilated Peoples