Author Topic: Another Jeru interview  (Read 35 times)


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Another Jeru interview
« on: December 26, 2005, 08:22:13 PM »
Due to the overwhelming demand, i've been forced to post another Jeru interview.  This was taken from This one is more music oriented, good questions about the early days.  Circa 2003 - as a lot of discussion about Divine Design. Interviewer statements in bold.

MVRemix: Describe a day in your life around the "Come Clean" era. I heard you were around Nas and Premier during the recording of "Illmatic" and also pretty close to Biggie. Tell me a bit about those days.

Jeru Tha Damaja: Basically it was just about doing what you love. Gettin' up in the morning, happy you'd made it through the [past] day. Happy you'd even got up. Just being grateful. Knowing you could go and touch a mic, hang out with people you liked. At the time I was smokin' weed, I was gettin' high and just living a care-free life in a way.

MVRemix: What do you think about Guerilla Black? Because whenever I do something creatively, I try to be as unique as possible. However, if you listen to his stuff, he sounds exactly the same as Biggie and looks pretty damn similar. What are your thoughts on that?

Jeru Tha Damaja: I mean I don't even really have a comment. I think I've heard one of something, I didn't know everything he did sounded like him. Maybe he wants to pay homage or something like that. I'm from the school where everybody should sound like themselves.

MVRemix: Back in the day, what inspired you to actually write "You Can't Stop The Prophet"?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Basically just living. I'd come from a very hostile environment and you were just happy to make it through the day. So in getting through that, in getting past that - growing, learning and seeing the youth out there... Not wanting them to go through what I went through because I had a lot of near death experiences. It just made me want to take some sort of responsibility and just write responsible rhymes.

MVRemix: How did the concept for the video arise?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Me and my boy Daniel Hastings and my boy Chris sat down and came up with the idea. We listened to the record and said it's a comic book, lets make it a comic book.

MVRemix: Your vocabulary has always been a lot more diverse than a lot of rappers you traditionally hear. How or where were you educated?

Jeru Tha Damaja: I was taught to read at a young age by my grandmother. My mother was a teacher in the New York City school system for a while, but even before she was a teacher we were very big on reading in my house. I had Aunts and Uncles that were so many years older than me. Some ten, some fifteen, some just five. So I had a lot of accessible literature around the house that was really for older children, but since they were around, I read them anyway. Little novels and comic books and things of that nature. It was basically reading and learning the words. If you didn't know what the words meant you had to go look it up and be able to use it.

MVRemix: I remember back in the day introducing friends who weren't fans of Hip Hop to it through music like yours and the Wu's. To show that Hip Hop was about more than just bitches and guns. With the success of G-Unit and Chingy though, the mainstream has little to offer "real Hip Hop" fans. If you were to introduce people to Hip Hop through today's mainstream, who would you use?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Whoa... you're trying to stump me right there. KRS-One maybe? I say that because no matter what, I think he's still mainstream. To me at least. I don't know, I couldn't say. [pause] Like I say, KRS-One, but I guess he's considered underground nowadays.

MVRemix: Which is shocking...

Jeru Tha Damaja: [chuckles] I don't know. That's a really hard question right there. I don't particularly think anyone is talking too much consciousness. Even the people who are supposed to be, underlined is still a lot of negative crap.

MVRemix: Yeah, you always get the commercial single with a little integrity upon the album. But rarely that much.

Jeru Tha Damaja: I guess then you'd have to go with Jeru Tha Damaja. Haha. Just wait for me to come out with records every year and that's it.

MVRemix: Could you envision a 2004/2005 version of "Ya Playin' Yaself" being made?

Jeru Tha Damaja: I envision a lot of different things. I'm currently working on an album with myself and [Lil'] Dap. Definitely be a lot of reality. It'll be conscious. It'll be street conciousness. Like Public Enemy, like KRS-One. And, it'll be something that everybody can enjoy, so... I'm sure a 2005/2006 "Playin' Yaself" will be on there.

MVRemix: In comparing Jeru from ten years ago to today, what would you say is the greatest change you've noticed in your life?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Maturity. I was so immature then and I'm still immature now. But compared to back then, my level of knowing who I am - because I always knew who I was as a young man coming from the inner-city, still making some good choices but still making some wrong choices. I had a really big mouth. But when you're young, that's how you are. You want to fight for a cause and you just go all out and gun-ho. You don't know sometimes you've got to be covert.

MVRemix: Now if you could alter something in your career thus far, what would you change, if anything?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Really nothing, because everything is a learning experience and it's making me a better emcee. I think I'm a better emcee today than I was ten or fifteen years ago. I get to travel the world, I get to see life on a different level. Maybe if my career would have gone a different way or something like that, I may not be experiencing the world the way that I am today. So I'm glad things are the way they are and I wouldn't change a thing.

MVRemix: Although how you got started has been widely discussed. It seems its kind of been strayed away from - how did the fall out between yourself and Gang Starr occur?

Jeru Tha Damaja: I mean there was really never a fall out. It was all a rumour. Basically people just wanted to do different things. "You don't fall in the same hole twice, you always change." Me, I just wanted to expand what I was doing. Change my sound style, experiment. That's what music is all about. I got into music because I love doing music and I love doing different things. That's how you're always fresh. I can come out in 2003 and 2004 and then come out in 2006, always having something fresh. People won't say that they've heard it before or it sounds the same. Like I said, there was never any fall out. That's why me and [Lil'] Dap still rockin' together. It's just that as you get older things change, you go different ways.

MVRemix: Could you see any sort of a reconciliation or are you just...

Jeru Tha Damaja: There's nothing to reconcile. If there's no problem, there's nothing to reconcile. Even nowadays Guru doesn't work with Premier. It's not that it's bad blood or anything like that, it's just you start. As an adult you just change. I'm not sure how old you are, but I'm sure you're not hangin' out with the same people you were with growing up, or ten years ago.

MVRemix: Of course...

Jeru Tha Damaja: You know what I mean? It's just sometimes things change. Maybe us guys will work together again, maybe not. It's not because of any problems. I just saw Premier last week. It's just differences in musical taste and trying to do new things. Everybody has to find themselves. Everyone wants to be defined, so you have to do that.

MVRemix: Are there any updates with yourself and Afu-Ra or The Perverted Monks?

Jeru Tha Damaja: I don't even know what's going on with those guys. I don't even know who the Perverted Monks are. I know I started The Perverted Monks, but I didn't know there were actual members until recently. I have no idea. Like I said people want to do musical things, different things and that's cool. I bless it. Hopefully they're good, did you hear any of their stuff?

MVRemix: I haven't heard much about them recently. Afu-Ra's last album didn't really get much exposure and I haven't heard much since.

Jeru Tha Damaja: (Jeru's reply was omitted)

MVRemix: What can you tell me about your new album ("Divine Design")?

Jeru Tha Damaja: My new album, to me basically I think it's dope Hip Hop. Unadulterated. So far from what's going on today. That's why I think it may be overlooked by certain people or people who want certain things. Or people who want me to do a song with Premier. They're not really listening to it for what it is. Beats, rhymes and that's it.

MVRemix: How did you hook up with the likes of DJ JS-1?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Mutual friends. We hooked up, he said "I want you to do this song." We did it and it was cool. I'm very open with working with people.

MVRemix: With regards to your record label (Ashenafi), how is that set up? Do you have many artists that are affiliated with you on there...

Jeru Tha Damaja: No. [chuckles] Basically I'm the only artist on my record label at this point in time. Right now I'm working to make it a positive thing as far as Jeru Tha Damaja's concerned. Whatever status or credentials I have to make it bigger and just take it from there. I'd like to make it something great where I can sign new artists and it'll be a good thing where they'll be able to eat. I can take care of them and we can take care of each other.

MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight"?

Jeru Tha Damaja: If I could fight any celebrity... Man, I wouldn't fight any celebrity 'cause I'd kick all they asses. I'm a nice guy, I don't wanna be kickin' ass.

MVRemix: Have you seen the film "Baadasssss!"?
Jeru Tha Damaja: About Mario Van Peebles' pops?

MVRemix: Yeah...

Jeru Tha Damaja: No, I haven't...

MVRemix: Because basically that film inspired me to ask you... that film basically talks about Melvin Van Peebles' "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," which I don't know if you know much about...

Jeru Tha Damaja: Yeah, I know a lot about the actual movie.

MVRemix: Okay, how do you then feel about the fact that most of the people that pioneer things in a quality manner aren't showcased well enough and tend to be referenced as just names.

Jeru Tha Damaja: Wow, I live it.

MVRemix: Yeah that's what I was thinking. I knew nothing apart from Melvin's name until I saw "Baadasssss!"

Jeru Tha Damaja: I actually am cool with his son (Mario Van Peebles) and I played in a movie that those guys directed called "Gang In Blue." It's in your local video stores; if you go to Blockbuster, you can see it. I'm on the cover. [chuckles] That's how it is. If Dave Chapelle made a funny joke, his grandmother would have told him, "Whatever you do, if you black don't invent nothin'! Don't be the first to do shit." Nobody remembers the first, nobody remembers the true pioneer.

MVRemix: Precisely. Now I'd read you've written a couple of scripts yourself. What are they about?

Jeru Tha Damaja: All types of things. It's funny that you asked that because with me talking I was thinking about my script right now, I need to find it. I'm looking for it - I need to finish one of them up. It's about inner city life, but in a positive way. Not glorifying the stereotypes, but showing them because there's truth in any stereotype. It's my expression. I try to be as expressive as possible and try to do the best I can.

MVRemix: What music influenced you most as a writer, but not only that, also as a person?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Just pick any one of Curtis Mayfield's songs and wow, you can sum my life up with some Stevie Wonder songs. Definitely Curtis Mayfield because of things he talked about; "My Family Song, "Don't Call Me Nigger," there's just so many. "Mighty Mighty..." Just a slew of songs. They definitely influenced my outlook on life, just wanting to be a positive type of person using music. Those are the guys I try to be more like because Curtis was a guy who used his voice to say something. To take all the negatives and stereotypes of the ghetto and put them into a medium where people will understand, but still at the same time turning it into something positive because it's music and people love music. It makes you feel good.

MVRemix: Will you be voting in the next election?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Definitely, I might be out of the country, but if I am I'll definitely be taking an absentee ballot.

MVRemix: Who will you be voting for if you don't mind me asking?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Not George Bush.

MVRemix: Did you happen to see "Fahrenheit 9/11"?

Jeru Tha Damaja: I saw that the day it came out. I love Michael Moore anyway. I'm familiar with so many of his works; his books, his documentaries and so on. It is definitely a dope movie.

MVRemix: I know you're working on "Self Destruction Part II" (alongside KRS-One and Chuck D), are there any other guest appearances or collaborations we can look forward to?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Like I said, there's me and Lil' Dap. We have the B-Side to my new single. I don't know if you've heard it?

MVRemix: I've heard the one with "Rap Wars."

Jeru Tha Damaja: That's got the B-Side and boom, we're just working on some new stuff now. Getting stuff readied before we get on the road.

MVRemix: Do you have any last words?

Jeru Tha Damaja: Yup, just everybody be yourself. Don't be enticed by the power of the ring. Love yourself and love your neighbours. Treat everyone accordingly and life will be good to you.



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Re: Another Jeru interview
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2005, 10:34:47 PM »