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Kung Fu, cars and the future of hip-hop



Gangstarr legend still touring and telling it like it is

Who: Jeru The Damaja

Where: Garfinkel’s

When: Sunday, Nov. 23

Tickets: $25

They call him The Damaja because Jeru Davis has always been able to do serious damage to the mic. It’s been that way since the early days in the burgeoning Brooklyn hip-hop scene, through his years with iconic rap trio Gangstarr in the late ’80s and early ’90s and continuing with his solo projects, the latest of which, Divine Design, was released this past September.

A hip-hop legend, he continues to record and tour, making his debut performance in Whistler this Sunday night at Garfinkel’s. Lining up to rhyme/spin with The Damaja are straight outta Enfield, Nova Scotia’s Classified, indie producer D.L. Incognito, Vancouver’s Langdon Auger, and locals Mat the Alien & DJ Rosco.

Any New York rap figure has an undeniable mystique. But when Pique caught up with The Damaja before he set out on tour, the untouchable rhyme-god crumbled away. In its place was a citizen of earth who strives to keep learning and writing, to speak the truth through conscious hip-hop grooves, to watch lots of kung fu movies, and to fix his own car.

Pique: What keeps you touring instead of just hiding out in the studio?

JERU THE DAMAJA: I love to do shows. To me, that’s the most important part of being an MC – interacting with the crowd. That’s what keeps me inspired to create the types of records I create. It makes it fun. It makes it worthwhile.

Pique: You’ve watched hip-hop change and you’ve been a part of the changes. Where do you think hip-hop is going?

JTD: I think hip-hop is going wherever people take it. Hip-Hop doesn’t really have a shape. It can be or do or go wherever people take it; the audience, the performers. The possibilities are endless.

Pique: Do you think the mainstream success of hip-hop has tried to give it a shape?

JTD: No, not really. Mainstream success contributes to its formlessness. You have people in Poland that are into hip-hop. Slovenia, Slovakia, places you’ve never even heard of. That just adds to its formlessness because you don’t know what they’re gonna do with it. You don’t know how they’re going to interpret hip-hop.

Pique: You’ve worked with people all over the world: Groove Armada in the U.K., Doudou Masta in France, DJ Honda in Japan , skateboard icon Chad Muska in Cali. Is this global versatility something you’ve developed or something you’ve had all along?