Brooklyn, New York native Jeru The Damaja’s The Sun Rises In The East turned 20 on Saturday (May 24).
XXL recently talked with the album’s producer, DJ Premier, as he recalled some of the memories in making the project. When asked about working with Jeru, Premo said Jeru The Damaja was the perfect rapper to work with at the time.
“I’d always wanted to have a dope Brooklyn artist that could rhyme, and Jeru could really spit,” Premier said. “He was a smart rapper who didn’t just talk about himself, but also what was going on where he came from.”
When recalling perhaps Jeru The Damaja’s biggest hit from the album, “Come Clean,” Premier said he knew the song was going to be big.
“Jeru came over and we recorded ‘Come Clean’ in one day,” he recalled. “I knew it was hot, but I didn’t know it was going to take off like it did, but we were happy with it.”
Finally, DJ Premier revealed Gang Starr’s Guru was the one who introduced Jeru The Damaja to the Gang Starr crew.
“Guru was the person that introduced Jeru to the Gang Starr crew, along with the future Group Home dudes Lil’ Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker,” Primo said. “It was his vision that we have our own hot crew in the same way as the Juice Crew, Boogie Down Productions and the Wu-Tang. At the time, Jeru was the most ready, so we picked him to be first. He had a dope voice, and the day after we cut [‘Come Clean’], Hot 97 was playing it on the radio.”
Jeru The Damaja’s The Sun Rises In The East was the rapper’s first album and was released on May 24, 1994. It climbed to number 5 on the Hip Hop and R&B charts.