Jeru the Damaja was born February 14, 1972, in Brooklyn, New York, and spent his early years in that borough’s East New York neighborhood, 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 was well-received but Jeru was criticized by the Fugees for his lyrics, particularly for the song “Da Bitchez”. 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 such as Death Row Records and Bad Boy Entertainment, which he criticized on the concept track “One Day.” After the release of Math, Jeru reportedly 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, which 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. The album was less critically acclaimed than his last. In 1999, he collaborated with the Spanish hip hop group Violadores del Verso in the track “Solo quedar consuelo.” His next 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, Jeru the Damaja came out for a surprise appearance to perform his song “D Original”.
In 2009 Jeru started to collborate with Drum & Bass Producers. In 2009, he is featured on Kabuki’s track “Watch Your Step.”, produced by Mainframe and also on “Open Up Their Eyes” by Italian producer Fabio Musta. Jeru also collaborated with Group Home in 2010 for a song dedicated to the late rapper Guru. The song is titled “G.U.R.U.”. Recently Jeru confirmed he will drop a new album with production from 90’s legends JuJu, Pete Rock, Large Professor & old time collaborator (their problems since reconciled) DJ Premier. In 2011 Jeru The Damaja featured in the song “Oddałbym” on the album “Reedukacja” of Polish hip-hop group Slums Attack (Peja, Dj Decks). In addition to Jeru The Damaja, a Polish rap star O.S.T.R. also featured. The album was a great success in Poland, and sold out in the first couple of days.
Jeru the Damaja (born Jeru Davis) aka D. Original Dirty Rotten Scoundrel was born and raised in the East New York section of Brooklyn where the everyday occurrences around him from an early age later became the source from which his rhymes flow. Jeru created and took on the persona of “the Damaja” (because he damages the mic) that is part conscious truth teller and part true to the streets Brooklyn hard rock. Jeru the Damaja hooked up with DJ Premiere and Guru, collectively known as Gangstarr, shortly after they moved to New York on the late 1980’s.
Jeru introduced his unique “hardcore conscious” style to hip-hop audiences on “I’m the Man” a track on Gangstarr’s 1992 Daily Operations album. In 1993 he cemented his place in the hip-hop world by releasing the now classic single “Come Clean” from his legendary album, The Sun Rises in the East. The Wrath of the Math was released two years later which included the hit singles “Ya Playin’ Yaself” and “Me or the Papes” and Jeru the Damaja was proclaimed the savior of hip-hop due to his honest and straight forward critique of the state of hip-hop music. In 2000 Jeru released Heroz 4 Hire completely autonomously, from the production of the album to its release on his independent label KnowSavage Records Jeru’s second independent album Divine Design on his new label Ashenafi Records featuring production by new producers Ed Dantez and Sabor and the new classics singles “WAR” and “Don’t Get it Twisted” featuring Lil’Dap from the Group Home.
Jeru’s third independent release Still Risin’ hit stores mid-2007. Taking his music to a new level by creating a style that is fusion of years of life experience translated to lyrical content set to rugged, real production. Still Risin was arefreshing appeal to intellect from a real life, everyone can relate to point of view.
Jeru has one of the most consistent tour schedules in hip hop and has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. In between tours Jeru has done joint projects with Grammy nominated UK group Groove Armada, DJ Cut Killa, French actor Doudou Masta , and DJ Honda from Japan. He also worked with platinum Polish group Slums Attack and received a platinum plaque for this collaboration. Jeru has recently added Photographic artist to his resume. Jeru’s had songs on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, True Crime: New York City and GTA IV video games, as well as collaborating with OG street skater Josh Kalis and DCshoes. Jeru was also named on of the 50 Greatest Emcees in Kool Mo Dee’s book “There Is a God On the Mic” and is looking forward to continuing that legacy in the future.
Through nearly twenty celebrated years in the music business Jeru has established himself as a multitalented, multifaceted artist and businessperson.