Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jeru The Damaja

After lacing two great Gang Starr songs in the form of “I’m The Man” (Daily Operation) and “Speak Ya Clout” (Hard To Earn), respectively, Jeru The Damaja released his debut album in 1994, “The Sun Rises In The East”. Solely produced by Gang Starr’s own DJ Premier, when I often mention tight beats and rhymes, this album had both and then some. His second album, “Wrath Of The Math” came out in 1996, and while it’s excellent, it didn’t capture the magic of the first album, and with that said, let’s take a look at both albums.

This album is remarkable on the lyrical end, and the production is some of the finest of Premier’s career. I remember hearing “Come Clean” for the first time and going absolutely crazy at how TIGHT that beat was (still one of the best I’ve ever heard). And speaking of “Come Clean”, I recall a small debate about it with two guys that summer about what the better beat was between “Come Clean” and “D. Original”. Myself and a guy named Terrance picked “D. Original”, and the other guy (can’t recall his name, lol) looked at the both of us like we were crazy because of our choice. Looking back on that, he was right, lol. “Come Clean” was clearly the better beat (and song), but both are great. Concept wise, “You Can’t Stop The Prophet” is quite excellent, with Jeru assuming the role of the prophet, while hatred, envy, and jealousy were the villains. It has to be heard to be appreciated, and he continues this on “Wrath Of The Math”, which we’ll get to next. Overall, classic material, one of the best albums of 1994.

Rating- 5 stars

5 favorite songs- Come Clean, D. Original, You Can’t Stop The Prophet, My Mind Spray, & Jungle Music

Welcome to 1996. It was a great year musically, and although things were changing, Jeru was one of few artists who were not happy with its direction, and you hear that theme often on this album. “One Day” is a short song, and it makes its points, as it’s directed squarely at the likes of Puff Daddy, Bad Boy Records, and Foxy Brown “kidnapping hip hop”. This resulted in some subliminal lines in Notorious BIG’s “Kick In The Door”, but there was no other beef afterwards. “Wrath of the Math” in some respects can be considered a somewhat worthy sequel to his first album, and although it’s not better (or even close), it’s still excellent in its own right, and that includes the “Revenge of the Prophet” sequel.

Rating- 4 stars

(Updated rating- 4.5 stars)

5 favorite songs- One Day, Revenge of the Prophet (Part 5), Ya Playin Yaself, Physical Stamina, & Whatever

After 96, Jeru then released Heroz4Hire, Divine Design, and Still Rising. I haven’t heard either of these, but I may check out "Still Rising" at some point, but as it stands right now, his first two albums remain his creative peak.

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