Kendrick Jeru Davis, known as Jeru the Damaja, (formely as D. Original Dirty Rotten Scoundrel) is an MC from Brooklyn, New York. He has worked extensively with Guru and DJ Premier of Gang Starr, whom he has known since high school.
Life and career
He 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 cover depicts the World Trade Center on fire, long before the September 11 attacks, a year after the 1993 bombing of the North Tower. The album featured Jeru's signature conscious lyrics, however he was criticized by the Fugees for his lyrics particularly for the song "Da Bichez." 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 (Death Row and Bad Boy), which he criticized on the concept track "One Day." After the release of Wrath of the Math, Jeru reportadly 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. Heroz 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. Heroz4hire was less critically acclaimed, due mostly to Premier's absence. In 1999 collaborated with the group of Spanish hip-hop Violadores del verso, in the track "Solo quedar consuelo".
His 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 "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels".