Jeru the Damaja

Self-proclaimed as hip-hop’s prophet and savior, American rapper Kendrick Jeru Davis (February 14, 1972), aka Jeru the Damaja, became a staple of the hardcore rap scene in the late 90s through a series of classic albums in tandem with DJ Premier. Hailing from East New York, Davis started writing rhymes at the age of ten and performed at block parties in his neighborhood. He first rose to notoriety thanks to his association with Gang Starr, who he met during his high school days. “I’m the Man,” included in the duo’s 1992 sophomore effort, helped put the young rapper on the map as he delivered debut single “Come Clean” in 1993. The track, which entered the Billboard Hot 100 at Number 88, served as a teaser for his critically-acclaimed studio debut, The Sun Rises in the East (1994). With DJ Premier handling production duties, the album peaked at Number 5 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and contributed a great deal to revitalize the East Coast rap scene. Despite debuting at Number 35 on the Billboard 200, second album Wrath of the Math failed to meet the universal acclaim of its predecessor and would be the last one to feature DJ Premier behind the console. The independently-released Heroz4hire followed in 1999, and Divine Design saw the light in 2003 through Davis’ own Ashenafi label. Even though the rapper’s output declined in subsequent years, he remained one of hip-hop’s most vocal critics with the albums Still Rising (2007) and the EP The Hammer (2014).

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