Jeru The Damaja Names His 5 Favorite Hip Hop Albums

Exclusive: Jeru The Damaja talks about his bond with Afu-Ra and sixth album, as he picks five Hip Hop albums released between 1987 and 1992, including the one that introduced his voice to the masses.

It has been over five and a half years since Brooklyn, New York veteran emcee Jeru The Damaja has released an album. The onetime Gang Starr Foundation/Ill Kid Records front-runner has also been scarce on guest appearances, though he notably reunited with Lil Dap and Melachi The Nutcracker on the title track to Group Home's Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal 2010 album. While touring in London, England this week, HipHopDX had the opportunity to ask Jeru a few brief questions about his current happenings, as well as his five favorite Hip Hop albums.

Touring with Afu-Ra, Jeru was asked about the partnership the two have maintained for nearly 20 years, with Afu's breakthrough "Mental Stamina" appearance on The Sun Rises In The East. Touring with the former D&D Records protege, Jeru noted, "[Afu-Ra] is more than a friend. He is a brother, and will always hold that place in my heart and mind." Like Jeru, Afu has been relatively quiet since 2005's State Of The Arts album on the then-fledgling Decon Records.

To his own limited appearances, Jeru explained, "I just come from the school of rockin' with people you respect or are down with. [I believe in that more] than rocking on records for the hell of it." In addition to "G.U.R.U.," Jeru did make two appearances on Ill Bill's Black Metal project, an introduction to La Coka Nostra, in addition to work with Big Lou and DJ JS-1. Slim on details to his own sixth effort, Jeru stated, "[I'm] still working on it I have a lot of tracks done but I want it to be perfect." It was previously reported that he was working with the likes of Large Professor, Pete Rock and an anticipated recording reunion with DJ Premier. Jeru did not update on those details.

Lastly, The Dirty Rotten Scoundrel was asked about his top five favorite Hip Hop albums. 'Ru began listing EPMD's acclaimed 1988 debut, Strictly Business. The gold album was a blockbuster for Fresh/Sleeping Bag Records, though it famously debuted at #80 on the charts. Highlighting another 1988 debut LP, The Damaja put a spotlight on Slick Rick's The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick. The Bronx, New York emcee would later become label-mates with EPMD at Def Jam Records. The five-mic effort remains Rick's most celebrated album within his own famously limited output.

Keeping things in the Bronx, Jeru also highlighted Boogie Down Productions' 1987 debut full-length, Criminal Minded. The album was the sole B.D.P. effort to be released while deejay Scott La Rock was alive, before his tragic murder the same year. The effort famously included early and uncredited production by The Ultramagnetic MC's own Ced Gee. Next, Jeru chose an album made by a critical member of B.D.P.'s onetime rivals, The Juice Crew. Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo's 1989 debut, Road To The Riches was the emcee's fourth choice. The Cold Chillin/Warner Bros. Records album yielded multiple singles, including "Poison," which was famously sampled by Bell Biv DiVoe one year later on their platinum single of the same name.

Keeping things in the family, Jeru chose an album that was not a debut by its makers, but remains his introduction to the masses. 1992's Gang Starr album Daily Operation rounded out The Damaja's picks. The Chrysalis/EMI Records release was Gang Starr's third. Guru and DJ Premier invited Jeru and Lil Dap to appear on "I'm The Man." The song would notably re-appear on 1999's Full Clip: A Decade Of Gang Starr compilation, which was certified gold.

Those in the London area can purchase tickets to see Jeru The Damaja, The Beatnuts and Afu-Ra and more at the Garage on May 25.

RELATED: Interview with Jeru The Damaja [2001 INTERVIEW]


  • Jeru the Damaja

    The Sun Rises In The East: 1-Come Clean 2-D.Original Wrath Of The Math: 1-One Day 2-Me Or The Papes 3-Ya Playin Self Heroz4Hire: 1-99,9 Pa Cent

  • Anonymous

    "Me and the papes" and "Ya playing your self" charted higher than come clean" Come Clean was off his 1st album which charted about the same as his follow up. Those other songs weren't played as much, or remembered by hip hop heads like CC was.

    • Anonymous

      i only recently became a big jeru fan after finally picking up his first three albums. the only song i knew from him before that was "d. original". quoteman, you don't know shit

    • Anonymous

      You said he had one hit, dude named 2 other songs that charted just as well as 'Come Clean' (mere numbers apart). I named 6 songs off of the first album that received play, and both of you failed to mention that 'Invasion', and 'Whatever' were reveled from 'Wrath Of The Math'. That's TEN other songs. We proved you're "Come Clean was his only hit" theory is WRONG. Hip Hop lovers care about good music, not what topped the charts. Why are you still trying to debate it? Because you always have to be right. Two other comments named and drop a lyric from 2 songs I stated, and you STILL want to say "Those other songs weren't played as much, or remembered by hip hop heads like CC was", because you always have to be right. You're a grown man who's not adult enough to say he's wrong. You're so screwed up in the head you think I make up hundreds of aliases to get at you, when it's authentic people who see you have a serious character flaw.

  • Anonymous

    who is jeru? never heard of him

  • Anonymous

    the 99,9% track was ill where he attacked Guru and premier that album heros4hire was not so much glory

  • Anonymous

    "No, you just know one song" Hate to burst your knowledge balloon, but Come Clean was his only hit.

    • Anonymous

      "d. original" was just as big as "come clean". maybe not from a chart perspective, but definitely from a well-known perspective.

    • Anonymous

      Quote-Man was on the outside looking in because if he was there, in NYC, he would know 'Mental Stamina', 'Da Bitchez', 'D. Original', 'You Can't Stop The Prophet' and the crazy video, 'My Mind Spray', 'Ain't The Devil Happy' all got serious airplay. That's why we can't stand internet bitches like him because people like him only look at "hits" and charts, because you weren't there to know what people were playing in their cars or boom boxes. So stop fronting like you were around to know the deal, you only look like an asshole trying to tell those who were actually there what was popular or not.

    • Knowledge Balloon 2

      What is your point? A hit=a good song. You need to listen to his first 2 albums before you can talk whats good and what isnt

    • Knowledge Balloon

      No It wasn't "Me and the papes" and "Ya playing your self" charted higher than come clean. That's 3 solo hits.

  • Anonymous

    If I could go back in time...

  • $wag Out

    why his beats weak as hell? no bang or anything fuck this new york style rap



  • Anonymous


  • Assassin221

    Damn this dude looks old. Probably because my only frame of reference is his pics on his first two album covers, which were almost 20 years ago. Those were dope though, haven't heard anything since so I can't say.

  • The B

    I will not debate about Hiphop with anyone under the age of 30, because they're ignorant as fuck, don't give a fuck, and don't want to learn shit!!

  • Swag Killa

    Most youngin's are so ignorant nowadays. At least in the Golden Era we respected our old school artists...

  • Anonymous

    Ced Gee was given credit for producing "Criminal Minded". Look in the damn cd, tape, or vinyl jacket; easy research.

  • Anonymous

    He had one good song.

  • Anonymous

    these niggas got no swag at all fuck this old school bullshit

    • Anonymous

      Ok young bull put on ur ball huggers then!


      Its Crazy How U Diss Old School Swag Like U Wont Get Old U Stupid!!

    • Anonymous

      Before you go talking shit about old school swag, I hope threw away your retro kicks, snapbacks,cazals,no lens frames, high top fades, saggin pants etc and come up with your own shit and try to rhyme better than the legends that set the trends you follow, then maybe they can feel inadequate to compete and fade away.

    • Anonymous

      u got no intelligence and diss ur own culture, how sad.

  • Anonymous

    who? never heard of this broke nigga before

    • Anonymous

      i like how the one troll posted multiple times. lol. real hip hop fans are familiar with jeru's classic material

    • Anonymous

      look him up, then. Ain't no excuse, son. There's a whole world of music that came before you. recognize. You think the world of hip hop just started?

    • Anonymous

      only a bitch counts another guys money lol

  • funny

    you guys are too funny. jeru is has some skills. the guy ran w gangstarr cut it out.

  • word up

    Nice to see Jeru! I hope he gets good beats on that next album.

  • Anonymous

    wha-whut step up and get bucked, if ya feelin lucky duck then press ya luck, i slap fake gangsta emcees and make em fagot flambe, ya nine spray, my mind spray

  • Anonymous

    here comes the monthly hhdx commenter top 5 lists

    • You'e a Dickhead

      But yet you read the title, clicked link, read the article and left a smart ass comment. Makes a lot of sense dickhead.

  • Anonymous

    beside that 99.9% track i donno shit from this dude...

  • Anonymous

    Who IS this nigga???

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