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Jeru the Damaja

In Atlanta, Georgia, in March 2008.
Background information
Birth name Kendrick Jeru Davis
Born February 14, 1972 (1972-02-14) (age 38)
Origin Brooklyn, New York
Genres Hip hop
Years active 1992–Present
Labels Payday/FFRR/PolyGram Records
Know Savage Records
Ashenafi Records

Kendrick Jeru Davis, known as Jeru the Damaja (born February 14, 1972, in Brooklyn, New York) is an American rapper and recording artist who has worked extensively with Guru and DJ Premier of Gang Starr, whom he has known since high school.

Early life and career

Jeru the Damaja spent his early years in the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York, where he began rhyming at block parties as a youth. He first showcased his hardcore Brooklyn style to audiences on "I'm the Man," a track from Gang Starr's 1992 album Daily Operation. The following year he released his first single, "Come Clean," which was produced by DJ Premier and became an instant underground hit.

His first album, The Sun Rises in the East, was released in 1994 and produced entirely by DJ Premier. The album is considered a classic, and was one of the most acclaimed hip hop albums of its time. The album featured Jeru's signature conscious lyrics. However, he was criticized by the Fugees for his lyrics, particularly for the song "Da Bitchez." Fugees member Pras lightly mentioned Jeru on the track "Zealots," from the group's landmark 1996 album The Score, with the line "No matter who you damage, you're still a false prophet," referencing Jeru's single "You Can't Stop the Prophet." Jeru responded lightly in the intro of the track "Me or the Papes" and also on the track "Black Cowboys."

Jeru followed up in 1996 with his second album. Wrath of the Math, again produced solely by DJ Premier. The album was also widely acclaimed, although not on the same level as his debut. Like on his first album, Jeru was accusatory of commercial hip hop artists and record labels such as Death Row Records and Bad Boy Entertainment, which he criticized on the concept track "One Day." After the release of Math, Jeru reportedly had a falling-out with DJ Premier and Guru (however, Jeru has dismissed this and claimed that they wanted to go in different directions), and was missing from the scene until 1999, when he released his third album, Heroz4Hire, released together with Mizmarvel, which was his first album without production from DJ Premier and also his first under his then-newly created KnowSavage Records. It featured the single "99.9 Pa Cent," which was a verbal attack on his former affiliates Gang Starr. The album was less critically acclaimed than his last, due mostly to Premier's absence. In 1999, he collaborated with the Spanish hip hop group Violadores del Verso in the track "Solo quedar consuelo."

His next album, Divine Design, released in 2003, was the first album under his new record label, Ashenafi Records. The album received little attention and mixed reviews. The latest Jeru album, titled Still Rising, was released on October 16, 2007. On April 2, 2007, during a La Coka Nostra concert at the Gramercy Theatre in New York city, Jeru the Damaja came out for a surprise appearance to perform his song "D Original".

Despite the numerous Five-Percenter references and slang used in his lyrics, Jeru is a member of the Ausar Auset Society.

Discography

Album information
The Sun Rises in the East
  • Released: May 24, 1994
  • Billboard 200 chart position: #36
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #5
  • Singles: "Come Clean"/"D Original"/"You Can't Stop the Prophet"
Wrath of the Math
  • Released: October 15, 1996
  • Billboard 200 chart position: #35
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #3
  • Singles: "Ya Playin' Yaself"/"One Day"/"Me or the Papes"/"The Bullshit"
Heroz4Hire
  • Released: September 7, 1999
  • Billboard 201 chart position: -
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: -
  • Singles: "99.9 Pa Cent"/"Verbal Battle"/"Black Love"
Divine Design
  • Released: September 23, 2003
  • Billboard 200 chart position: -
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: -
  • Singles: "War"/"Rap Wars"/"Don't Get It Twisted"/"Rasta Powers"
Still Rising
  • Released: October 16, 2007
  • Billboard 200 chart position: -
  • R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: -
  • Singles: "The Crack"

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